A Personal Update

October 9, 2021 at 2:47 am Leave a comment

I’ve been down most of the year. I also nearly don’t write for around a year every time I move, ever since I became a poet at 9 (a teacher was going to type up a volume of poetry and never returned it; my adopted mother was furious and I took it as a compliment, and then we were on our way to Japan).

I don’t know why, except for a thing analogous to {German] “zeitgeist” although rather than ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ of time it would be that of place. It didn’t happen with the (more or less) yearly trip down to Medford, Oregon from Oak Harbor, Washington at school break for summer and back up before school started again. “Medford” (actually Phoenix) was a ranch fairly high above the valley floor, atop a small hill (and which had a glen), 40 acres, temperatures of up to 110 Fahrenheit common in those dusty summers, two Labrador Retrievers, no other children to play with (which was almost totally welcome), my drunk stepfather wobbling around the outskirts and my [biological] mother vacillating between lust and hatred toward him–something it took me many years to understand. Oak Harbor was the place that to me was always chilly. It was also close to Seattle; lots of tv and radio stations, and on Whidbey Island. My adopted father worked at the naval station. The Dutch farmers pretty well hated that because before (with right of eminent domain) the government grabbed it, it was the most productive land in the world. Then between the temperature and the humidity (and whatever forests tend to do to the experiential atmosphere at ground level) there was a nearly magical quality to the place, most particularly at sunset and often at sunrise. Oregon is much different. It was Oregon Territory which was forced to become a state. The clay is apparent. Phoenix is in the Rogue Valley, and, no, Martha, there were no “Rogue Indians”. Rather a great many of the first settlers here had one thumb. I’ll let you look that up if you don’t know what it means, but it’s a definite indication that the person with the missing thumb was caught at something. When I was a kid the massive presence of the KKK was open; now it’s somewhat hidden. [Look up 1953, KKK, Grants Pass Oregon.] Hell’s Angel types are pretty common. You don’t mess with the police. The Sundowner law is still in effect, apparently. Oregon was and is economically depressed, especially Southern Oregon. The original settlers tend to have Southern accents.

Oak Harbor meant I was a strict Christian.

Phoenix more or less meant I was whoever the fuck I wanted to be.

Now I live in Medford (3 miles from Phoenix). I’ve spent 50 years in the Rogue Valley, basically, after having arrived here at 2.

Entry filed under: social psychology. Tags: .


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