An inborn dread, a sort of latent panic familiar to my line, preceded me. This inherent conviction that things must go wrong will not be loosed by any device of socialization, rebellion, or medication. Ironically, this same fixedness in the breast of its unfortunate host makes it perfectly portable, and impervious to geography–maybe this is why my people have propelled themselves across all parts of the globe, as if in flight from this dread; maybe this is why now we seem determined to self-dissipate as a race. We can run but we can’t hide.
Even this curious adaptation works as if it has its own ambition and designs, treating us as the means to our own end. A long line of dull, placid farmers crossed the Atlantic to become dull, placid American farmers, settling in square-head country in the perennially freezing dead-center of the continent, where we felt at home. At some point we were displaced from land to city, and, characteristically unaware, set upon a modest decline from modest heights. We are being deselected.
The pioneers came west drawn by horses on wooden wheels over wild country. Years later it was rubber on asphalt, a trail of noxious fumes, and little fortitude required. A group bound by no comparable shared act of passage, by nothing in particular. I am of this family.
The last leg of our white trash odyssey was the motor journey into the American West, merging along the way with the Okies and the wetbacks, with the disillusioned alongside the delusional, the failed and the ambitious, those on the lamb and them on the make, all holding in common a crisis of options; to California.