2015, Archives, July 2015, The MFA Years

David Morgan O’Connor Introduction (University of New Mexico ’18)

Migration, emigration, re-immigration, what-have-you…

I enter the immigration line at Lax. US-Resident or Visitor? First decision on terra firma. Guess which line is longer. I am somewhere in between, always.

Lunch, an arepa in Bogota. No breakfast just a 5am tearfilled taxidoor good-bye in Rio de Janeiro with a magical woman. who I am crazy for and crazy to leave. How many times does true love knock on your door, enter and cook salmon with potatoes with no questions asked only warm bliss and pure connection sprinkled with kisses… in this fleeting life? Not many. Not this good.

A sweet child, visas, jobs, families, money, practicalities keep her from following and me from staying. If I think about this stuff too long, I will turn around, buy a return ticket. Nobody needs an MFA to write anyway, pure vanity, yet there is time and community and new tricks to learn and new thoughts and time.

I am waiting behind the yellow line. Officer Khan calls out NEXT.

-I would like to apply for a TN visa please.

-A TN?

-Yes sir, got an opportunity in Albuquerque.

-What cooking meth?

-No sir, I am a writer.

No jokes at the border, ever.

-Yo Vinny, what the hell’s a TN visa?

-Some NAFTA thingy, send him to Secondary Inspection.

-Follow me.

Four hours later, the universal stamp-pound, that bureaucratic thump of approval, that final spring-brand brings glory to my exhausted jet-pummeled bones. I got three years.

Crossing L.A., I cross-examine the Russian taxidriver about how to buy a car. This is the month of gathering information, decisions, phone, bank, clothes, shoes, new computer, write, buckle down for poverty. I have everything I own in my pocket and those two big black bags. I am in the arms of old friends, happily installed in their granny-cottage, pinot noir and laughter. I love California. This catching-up feels so damned good.

We get groceries in Whole Foods. I warn my buddy, the hard-drive fan is whirling, overload, short-circuit, fuses are sparking, blinking inner alarms, jesus orange cheddar how I missed you, Brazil nuts are cheaper, coconuts are cheaper, sustainable, organic, everything labeled and perfect. Sorry man, I’m gonna wait in the car, sorry.

I play soccer with his son. Why do you stick your tongue in your teeth when you laugh? He shows his Lego, his archery skills, his King Arthur armor, we cycle the block. It is so nice to speak English, nuances return, subtexts, speed and wit.

I hit Koreatown for BBQ. Nine bucks for all this. How I miss multiculturalism and kimchi. There is NPR and tea. There are parking maids and meters. There are new streaming taxes and iCloud taxes and spear-phishing attacks by terrorists. Donald Trump. Racism. The rules are firm in America. Taking a look at the freeways, wide and clean, in comparison, highs become ninety and this is Morning Eclectic. Learn Fahrenheit. I buy an 1982 Mercedes that runs off recycled vegetable oil. It has 288 457 miles and I add another 800 crossing the desert.

In Northern Arizona I talk to a ranger about bears and snow and cars. He calls me the braver man.  Bravery is the ultimate stupidity I think. Talk radio turns smiles into grasslands.

I worry about the space of Albuquerque after Rio de Janeiro.

After the July 4th chaos in L.A, I cleaned my ears with two cotton swabs for the first time in years. I change my language and text preference. My head is hollow and ready to listen. My heart opens to America.

Image: Luke Ma

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