where the writers are
Lands as Relationships
Oct. 28, 2009: Me at the computer

I was born in LA county in 1960 and feel NO connection there. None. Even the ocean is changed. I do like the salt air smell and the eucalyptus trees. It is like being an adoptee who occasionally visits a biological parent who has both terminal cancer and Alzheimer's. You came from them originally, but there is no mutual recognition on any meaningful level and only sadness and alienation.

I moved to Montana when I was 5, and it is here I have my identity. This is where I know the light, the patterns of weather, the smells of the woods, and the spirits. For me, Montana is like the mother who adopts you when you were a small child and cared for you. Most of my family is still here (and to be clear, they ARE biological family, I am not adopted). It is where I feel I am "home." I haven't had much luck in making any kind of living here. I fit the land well enough, and have had most of my Otherworld experiences here. But in a way, "you can't go home again" once you have left. I love the land, but the towns and I don't jibe. My "medicine" is not at its strongest here. There is no place I would rather be when it comes to the Land and my family, but if I stay here, I will always be on the edge of starvation and hopelessness...but that is I guess what I have chosen. It's like living in your parents' basement as a grown child.

When I went to Iowa, it was visiting a great grandparent's house. I did some amazing things there. I felt I was "in my jurisdiction." Because of my tribal connection to it as a homeland and hundreds of generations of spirits of ancestors there, well, enough said. But my family isn't there, and the land has been ripped and denuded and drained and transformed. Like at a great-grandparent's home, you learn deep things about yourself and your past you can't learn any other way. But it isn't YOUR home.

Alaska, New Mexico, and other places I've lived and worked have been like having really cool passionate affairs with girlfriends, times that were valuable and fun, but they didn't last and they weren't permanent.

Hawaii was like a marriage to a love that was not meant to be. There I felt true love, I helped do some wonderful things. I learned totally new things in a land that had nothing to do with my own biological past, but it was my wife's homeland so through her, I had the connection. The aloha shared with me (ha= the breath, alo = share with) by the Hawaiian people, the struggle to fight development, and the preservation of sacred lands. These gave birth and sustenance to beautiful things. I will always love it, but we came together in love to bear a child (in this case the legal preservation and perpetual protection of sacred tracts of land, in particular Waimea on O'ahu) and then that was all it was supposed to be. The end almost killed me...and so I returned home to Montana, to my parents' basement to recover.

Recover. Re-cover. To pull a blanket up over oneself. It is much easier to recover when you are 20. 30 is still doable. 40 was pushing it. I don't have any juice left now that I am almost 50. I am no longer dead, but not yet alive either.

But I don't think I'll be leaving home ever again. Maybe I can eventually leave my basement sanctuary. But it will only be to paint the house and garden a little until the cold winters of old age finally take me away to the Otherworld.