I Am

Aireys, Early 20sBy Tommy Airey

Note: this was homework assigned by Dr. Lily Mendoza to a beloved community of ethno-autobiographical faith resisters in Detroit, Michigan

I am Southern California branded, but DNA stranded in a blue-eyed tribal scandal, maybe Goth or Vandal—or even a Saxon and Celtic quarrel from long long long ago.

I am the wandering whiteness of Cain, against-the-grain Abraham resisting an abiding city, the peregrini pilgrimage, the wonder voyage, the sign of the cross, always in process.

I am the long trail of entitlement from English village, a privileged passage across the pond to the pillage of old sage brush land, irrigating apples by damming up rivers and shoving precious indigenous into a sliver of barren sand.

I am North Dakota railroad, South Wisconsin farm sold, Illinois coal miner, rob-the-cradle romance at a Wenatchee diner, lumber foreman, reservation drug store, general contractor for the aqueduct-manufactured masses, blasting off from a middle-of-nowhere fundamentalist Christian camp crisis.

I am the binger, the smoker, the two-beer-a-day broker, the 80-hour-work-week, the sports freak, the feelings packer, the heart-attacker, the moonshine, always crossing the fine line back-and-forth between resilience and denial.

I am the love child of suburban dwellers, advice dealers, legacy builders, conflict avoiders, the fixers, the formulas, focus on the family, fragility, personal responsibility, numb the pain, keep the insane pace, the no drama household, always oblivious to trauma outside our zip code.

I am the soul friend, the bend-over-backwards lender, the anti-institutional inspiration, the immanent, the intimate, the seeker of thin places in the most mundane spaces, the scribe, the roaster, the boaster in weakness, the craver of the unconventional, the polite society misbehaver.

I am the uninvited guest eating tangerines under the Sycamore on Trabuco Creek flowing into the Pacific shore erasing Acjachemon lore.

I was educated on Free State soil a century and a half after John Brown’s Bleeding Kansas revenge, listening to the River Kaw speaking through cicadas dancing around moss-covered Redbuds.

Today, I am a refugee on Huron banks giving thanks under the Ginkgo.

What’s next, I don’t know, all I can do is breathe, trust, keep learning and let go.

2 thoughts on “I Am

  1. Oscar (Oz) Cole-Arnal

    Hi Tom,

    You have a heart-warming knack of describing your life pilgrimage that not only brings us on board with you but, even more important, points to following Christ in the extraordinarily ordinary.

    Blessings Bro,

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