Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Sleepless Nights, by Elizabeth Hardwick

It is not true that it doesn't matter where you live, that you are in Hartford or Dallas merely yourself. Also it is not true that all are linked naturally to their regions. Many are flung down carelessly at birth and they experience the diminishment and sometime the pleasant truculence of their random misplacement. Americans who are Germans, Germans who are Frenchmen, like Heine perhaps.

The stain of place hangs on not as a birthright but as a sort of artifice, a bit of cosmetic. I place myself among the imports, those jarring and jarred pieces that sit in the closet among the matching china sets. I have no relations that I know of born outside the South and hardly any living outside it even today. Nevertheless, I am afraid of the country night and its honest slumbers, uneasy even in the daylight with "original settlers" and old American stock. The highway, the asphalt paths, the thieves, the contaminated skies like a suffocating cloak of mangy fur, the millions in their boroughs—that is truly home.

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