I sing it with a broken soul voice.
I put the “m” on the front of “baby” like John Fogherty does, but it’s mostly lost to the wind coming in through the windows. Here landscape supposedly flashes past cars like it does everywhere else, but you wouldn’t know because the terrain is identical for miles: flat. Wide. Cotton, sometimes maize. A monocrop culture of people who might live in a city and teach at a university but who are only one generation removed from a family farm.
It’s three weeks after the puddle jumper landed with a bump on the runway a few miles north of here, and I alighted into a town I’ve known for eight years. My brother is driving in fast careening curves, my father is in the passenger seat, and I am content in the back, dreaming about the present. We’re singing “Suzie Q.” We’ve got some harmony going and the wind participates too.
I have tried to talk but found that people mostly don’t want to hear, so I stay quiet.
I have so much to say.
I stay quiet.
I’m more afraid of being home than I ever was of going abroad.
I have known what it is to be the only person you know in a country, and it is a fast addiction, a high I want again.
I have developed more intense relationships with people in days or weeks than I have with most people in the US town where I live in years.
I have talked about HIV/AIDS, about the American education system, about Bosnia, about virginity, about God, about what it means to be alive.
I have danced where I’m not supposed to, with people who didn’t think twice about doing the same.
I have swum.
I have seen a sunrise over a field of sunflowers.
I have fallen in love with this whole beautiful planet, which is the same as falling in love with a person.
It loves me back.
Here I stay quiet.
And that is the most terrifying thing I could have imagined, and did not foresee about coming back. If I must remain quiet for fear of offending, of seeming pretentious, of being laughed at, of boring my audience,
will I forget how to live?
And so, for this last entry, I want to speak.
I want to tell you to go barefoot.
I want to tell you to write love letters.
I want to tell you to accidentally-on-purpose leave your cell phone at home every once in awhile.
I want to tell you to sometimes forget about what time it is, and don’t look too hard for a clock.
I want to tell you to climb a mountain.
I want to tell you not to be afraid of being alone.
I want to tell you to listen hard to a person who loves her job, even if it’s something you would never do.
I want to tell you to listen hard to anyone who loves anything.
I want to tell you not to laugh when someone suggests doing something out of the ordinary, and even to do it.
Fall in love all over again with your parcel of this beautiful planet.
Even if it’s alone, do something extraordinary.
So now I’m home, in my favorite country in the world, singing Creedence Clearwater Revival at the top of my lungs with two people I love. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t care much. I am no place but here, and that’s the only place I’ll ever be.