Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From nowhere

“You’re not from here, are you?” That’s what the woman asked me while I was pumping gas the other day. She and her husband were standing outside with me in the cold dark drizzle, fussing with the gasoline pump that was acting quite sluggish. We were chatting about the weather and wondering if the funky cold had thickened the gasoline to the consistency of molasses, making it move through the pump like molasses in January. However it’s just December, so technically it would be molasses in December.

“Well, yes, I am from here,” I replied, “I’ve lived here all my life.” The woman and her husband both chuckled and said that they were really surprised to hear that, for they were certain I was going to say that I was European. What? I was on my way to my French class—was I speaking in a pretentious French accent? Did I say “laissez-moi tranquille” (leave me alone)—the only truly useful phrase I know in French? I was wearing my usual unmatched drab-colored clothing—did that make me look European? I’ve never even been to Europe—how do I know what Europeans wear?

Perhaps it is rather boring to have lived in one place my entire life. I don’t want to be from here any longer. I should lie. I’m going to make up some sort of exotic story about having been kidnapped by gypsies when I was a baby. They raised me in a tinkers’ caravan in Ireland and I escaped from the tinkers when I was 12. I’ve been traveling the world ever since, trying to find my family. Then I could ask people if I looked familiar to them, do they know my parents, would they like to adopt me? Then I can be from somewhere.

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