9 Questions About Living Elsewhere

1. Where did you live and for how long?
Where don't people read aloud like this? If you drew this out you'd have a row of 'u's, right sides a little higher than their lefts. Marching along. It is earnest and serious but makes me sleepy. There are other letters.

2. What made you decide to go there?
E., she wears scarves and an updo; talks about aggression, evolution, and telephones. Keeps photos of Moscow train stations in her purse. As a student, she visited a new one each week. That's her favorite, robin-blue with arches, so waiting there feels like living inside an egg. E. explains this with her hands. After graduation, she traveled across Europe, and never saw anything else that beautiful.

3. Did you have to lie to enter the country?
At nineteen I met your dog, the sunlight in your car, thought it a lovely everything. Obviously it's not, but at nineteen it might be. Nineteen has pretty strange hopes. Next I learned, and wrote three stupidest pages about it. In a book, the only paper we had at the truckstop. Monks and ink and roses. Five blanks in back. It's still on my shelf. Now every time I move and you help, I worry you'll flip through and find it. Find another me. It would be awkward.

4. Were you/are you legal? Plan on becoming so?
Understand please, it's not that I wouldn't like X. Good Lord, I'd love it. I even loved wandering there, buying plastic flowers and candy that looked like fingers. Sneaking holy water. When you found me it was cold, and I flopped into your shoulder. Plus Y is there too, which makes me wonder. But I'd have to leave, you know? Before I got mean. Somehow this is linked to the "are you still interesting?" question.

5. How did you/do you make money? Did you go there with a job or have to find one?
In Seattle you learn trees, but in California it's fruit. My dead uncle, he tapped his teeth while thinking. Where do I learn that?

6. Was housing easy/difficult?
C. Pavese: "One needs a town, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. A town means not being alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the soil, there is something of yourself, that even when you're not there it stays and waits for you. But it isn't easy to be there and not be restless."

7. Was the language a problem?
As kids we played characters, made them orphans so they could do whatever they wanted. Fly, maybe, or drink pop. Everyone's mom was dead, but ours never said anything. At three o'clock we had a snack.

8. Favorite things/worst things about the place?
What happens to you if I leave? Wait! That sounds like it's about me, and it's not. Obviously you continue on. I guess I meant the space. When the routine stops, what happens to it? To the coffee, the cake?

9. Any good stories about it or advice for others following?
You won't know the sky until you leave. Fish don't know the water they're in, or that they're even in it. Nebraska's a long yawn, sometimes gray but mostly gold. After moving I started rowing. Mom looking tinier on the dock. Hands clasped like teeth. She'd never seen that much water before, but her whistle cut through the wind.


- Mairead Case