h     o      m      e

i'm sitting here in the octagonal gazebo,
one of the many special nooks of this town
ashland, oregon
where i first entered the world
in this incarnation.

my body is this community.
in all eight directions
i see familiarity:

ashland high school: tummy digesting my identity
siskiyou boulevard (south): arms reaching to the past
beach street: brain neurons shooting against the limitations
dirt alley: legs striding in the sunshine
iowa street: breasts growing with curiosity
sidewalk to railraod district: heart holding the love
siskiyou boulevard (north): main vein pulsing with the flow
morton avenue: feet finding new paths

my eyes follow all these body parts
returning back to the intersection
of movement and change
though it always seems the same.
i hear the soothing grumble woosh
of the cars' tires on the asphalt
and i swear i've seen every face
that walks by.

the weather feels like spring
with pungent mulchy grass
green and manicured
in this little triangle park
and there are still white tips
on the surrounding mountain peaks
but they're melting
since there are no clouds
to block the warm sunshine today.
a simple blue sky opens up above me.

right now
this town of mine feels empty
as the friends my age
are spread out across the country;
i think about wallis wilde-menozzi's
foreign analysis of italian culture
as she criticized the norm
of generation after generation
for staying in the same hometown.
she cited it as passive --
an easy way to avoid independent choices
and personal exploration.

in parma
families can be traced back
through the centuries
as everyone stays
to bloom where they were first planted.
the american norm is a contrast
moving out and away
from your family
a rite of passage
i feel the pressure to get out
(but do i feel it from the outside or inside?)
fewer and fewer high school friends
return to ashland
for summer and winter breaks.

soaking up italian culture
led me to question my previous assumptions
in order to re-embrace the idea that
ashland can always be my home.
yet wilde-menozzi's argument still
has resonance in some cells of my body
since it feels kind of stale here today
an odd emptiness.
is this a place
where i can refocus
and get back to a homebase
of inner guidance?
or does it lead me into
a smothering return
back to old habits
and patterned ways of thinking
that i've already outgrown?

perhaps i revert back to my earlier identities:
high school acquaintance
next door neighbor
family friend
the "Maya Seligman" everyone expects.
who am i?

i am ashland.

next (based on a journal entry
from wednesday, march 11, 1998
ashland, oregon
in triangle park)