A sort of life

The story of a deportation

RICHMOND, Va. — I wish I had other peoples’ problems. They seem so clear. So easy to ease those peoples’ affections. Here’s where you are. Here’s where you want to be. What more do you need?

When it comes to the self, things aren’t so clear. That I can assure you. This time of year don’t help much either. I don’t know what to say, really. We’ve all got a raw deal with that one. What, with the light and the daylight savings and all that screwy stuff.

Some people cope with a spiral bound pad and a pencil. Some take narcotics or drink. Some lay it all out to a friend or pen pal. Those are the tried and true methodologies I keep hearing about anyway.

Myself, I’m not much like most people. Never have been — and unless something changes in my re-assimilation to the United States state of mind — never will be either. It’s a shame frankly, because it means I don’t have a home. I’ve got no hometown. No place to go under to weather the storm. I don’t have an umbrella.

I suppose Washington is as good a home as any. Except I never really lived in the District. My time in “Washington” was spent in Burke and Alexandria and Springfield and Centreville and Vienna.

Oh, I moved back to Washington plenty of times. Just never the same part. And you don’t have to be a rocket man to know that each little place has things a little different.

Actually, Richmond is the only place I’ve moved to twice and in nearly the same spot. I live about one mile now from where I used to live in 2001. That’s never happened anywhere else.

I lived in Vienna, Austria twice, but once was in a pseudo-compound and the other time I lived in the city. A few stops on the 38 tram to Schottentor in fact.

Then there was my many other excursions abroad. None of those made too remarkable an imprint on my mind. They were just stops on the path, you know?

And now all that is over. My passport was revoked nearly a year ago, and I’m now just a normal Joe. Except that I’m not.

I’ve got all this history, all this that is a part of my life, and I can’t access it anymore. I’m cut off. Sure, I could still travel. But I’d be a tourist. I wouldn’t have the license to live. And that’s before we talk about the cash, anyway.

And so I’m here. My comrades, they’re out there somewhere and I’m here. And I’m suppose to wean? I’m suppose to find satisfaction?

No. Nothing against Richmond. I love the place. No knocks. But I can’t feel too homely in a place I can understand what people are saying to me. You’ve got to understand that I grew up walking around in cities painted in different tongues. That’s home to me. My whole identity is wrapped in that. And now that’s gone. My identity, that’s not gone. But it’s misplaced in this atmosphere, that’s for sure.

How do you relate to people who don’t have that? When I was living in Australia, I didn’t have one good, tight Australian friend. No. I had Polish and Kenyan and Indian. I could go on. The Australian’s were good for drinks. But where’s the sustained satisfaction in that?

And that’s sort of where I am now. Except now there’s no Polish or Kenyan or Indian around to mess around town with. There’s a lot of drinks, and that’s about it. And so yes, we could talk about being lonely. But not about that guy who can’t look people in the eye type of lonely. No, that’s not my problem.

My problem is that I’m not alone. I’ve got all these people around me — could be hundreds of people — and there’s people that are good for what they provide, but they don’t provide the stuff I need to thrive. It’s barely enough to survive even. I need vitamins and minerals and essential fibers.

And so I’m like a lonely guy, but it’s really more like a hunger than a loneliness. It’s a strange mixture of the two. It’s not like when you want a girl on Valentine’s, or being the only guy not getting laid in high school. There’s no looking at your friends kids and wishing you had one too.

It’s not that.

I imagine my affliction is more like what one goes through at age 35 or 40. It’s the big, “What’s next?” The washed up, you can’t go back and what’s ahead ain’t too bright either. But we’re not talking about the future here. We’re talking about what I’m going to do tomorrow.

And that my friends, is the general anxiety of this place. It’s not the conduit, a way of beginning all my relationships with people. No. What it is my friends, is the acid in the stomach. It’s what’s always there all the time. And that is why this time of year sucks for me.

For you, well that’s a different story all together. I’m sure of it.

“The story of a deportation” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Bleeding burgundy and gold

Bleeding burgundy and gold

Dan Brenner beams after surviving a punch to the nose by an angry Philadelphia fan at FedExField in Landover, Md. on December 12, 2004. Washington lost the game 17-14.