Friday, April 08, 2005

Borders and Spaces

Visiting Houston last weekend reminded me of the tension of a border. I don't mean the Mexican cuisine or Spanish language on top of English, we have that here in the mid-west, too, and we're far from a border. The influence is now part of US culture. And the influence is different everywhere. What I felt in Houston was the feeling of a borderland. The ocean, the legal border, it is all right there. A friend told me the border is a short bus ride away. Another country is over there. Do you know what is exciting about a border? Do you know what it means? A border is a geographic sign, it is a metaphor for travelling, for what could be, for choices about change or not. A border tells me that I have arrived somewhere. Yes, you have travelled as far south as you can go. You have achieved something. Sit and rest. There is a tension. It also tells me, you have gone this far, and now it is time to turn around and go home. Or I can keep pushing and go into another territoriy, but that is taking things to an extreme. The border tells me where I am. I brush up against it, and I feel its pressure. I like it, it feels reassuring, I know where I am, I am on this side of the border, and I know where I am not, which is in Mexico or the interior of the USA. I am somewhere special, I am on the border. I live on the edge but I know I am somewhere.
There are no borders in my midwestern city. I am far from Canada or Mexico or a body of water, or even anther state. I don't know where I am. When should I stop, why am I here, and what am I supposed to do here. The only sign is the sun, its shadow, and I only know where east and west are. I am in the middle of east and west. The shadow looks the same in Houston, too, but it doesn't mean the same, because I know I am somewhere, not in the middle of other places. The only reason the shadows and the sun give me for staying, they don't give me any. I have to make up roots here to resist the wind. In the border, I don't have to do that, because the border will prevent me from flying away. All the existential questions and answers are taken care of by the border. I like the assuredness of it. I can enjoy it. I know I am somewhere, a destination. I like borderlands. I lived in Croatia, a borderland, and I liked the cozyness of five countries and the ocean and rivers tucking me in to the place.