Here I Go Again

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    Mar 28, 2012 6:22 PM GMT
    My latest blog post... Resuming the walk, after wintering in Alabama. (You'll find my blog at www.walklikeanamerican.com, but I also usually copy my posts and share them here, at the request of some fellow RJers.)

    Goodbye-Alabama-e1332893651502.jpg

    Here I Go Again

    Nothing like some hair metal to get you off your rear and back on the road. “I was born,” it seems, “to walk alone.” So “I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time,” and “here I go again on my own.”

    You need a sense of humor to undertake a task like mine. I don’t want to look like a crazy person, so I’m not actually head-banging down the road, but I’m rocking out at heart. I’ve been away from home too long, you see, and I’m ready to go back. I also can’t wait to see the rest of this beautiful country, and jump into the Pacific.

    I needed the break I took in Alabama, and I see it now even more than I did when I got here. The walk down from New York was a shock to my very core. The hours upon hours I spent alone forced me to do a soul-search that I never saw coming. Virtue, I believe, is being the best version of yourself that you can be. And looking back on the last year, I see that I have, indeed, become a better me. The thoughts I couldn’t escape, the realities I had to face, had left me disoriented.

    Family concerns—matters of the heart—weighed upon me as I tried to do my job of exploring the meaning of being American. In order to go on, I needed to get back my bearings. I needed to see how this changed man fit in my life, in this journey, in this project. I never imagined that it would be in the South where I would rediscover my voice. This land of surprises and sugar-coated roughness has taught me more about America than I ever imagined.

    I have learned, for example, that my journey, while unique in its own way, is quintessentially American. We are a nation of individuals who act like we’ve got it all figured out, but really, we’re just in the process.

    The South, for all its faults, is at least self-aware. I’ve heard racist remarks, and plenty of them—as a New Yorker, my eyes bugged out the first time I heard someone casually use the word “Oriental,” and when someone remarked about “all them Jews [we] have up there.” No one here pretends that there’s no racial tension, and yet I’ve seen more interracial couples here than anywhere else.

    What I’ve realized is that prejudice here is abstract and collective in an almost (I really hesitate to use the word) benign way. What I mean is that southerners will run off at the mouths about groups—about abstract “theys”—but when it comes to one-on-one interactions, the racism is superficial. A guy will rant about black people, and use the N-word, only to later call his best buddy, who happens to be black, and rant about something completely different. It’s an odd kind of colorblindness.

    In the South, people know where they stand even if they’re not entirely sure where they’re going. And that is where I find myself.

    ------
    Constantino Diaz-Duran is a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University. He is exploring what it means to be an American in the 21st century, walking from his home in New York City, to Los Angeles. Follow his progress on Facebook and Twitter.
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    Mar 28, 2012 6:42 PM GMT
    Do I need to marry you to keep you in one place?/icon_neutral.gif
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    Mar 28, 2012 7:34 PM GMT
    Uberr_Bizzaro_O saidDo I need to marry you to keep you in one place?/icon_neutral.gif


    Back up off of my man.

    Good luck Tino! Hurry to Arizona....
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    Mar 28, 2012 7:40 PM GMT
    ^^^Excuse me, mijitoicon_neutral.gif Did you say something?
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Mar 28, 2012 8:41 PM GMT
    Believe me, there are a lot of words more offensive than "oriental" that show up in the south.
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    Mar 28, 2012 9:34 PM GMT
    Safe travels!
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    Mar 28, 2012 9:39 PM GMT
    Haaretz saidSafe travels!

    You were actually nice!

    Safe travels, also!
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    Mar 28, 2012 10:59 PM GMT
    Uberr_Bizzaro_O saidDo I need to marry you to keep you in one place?/icon_neutral.gif

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    Mar 28, 2012 10:59 PM GMT
    Thanks, everyone for the well-wishes!
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    Mar 28, 2012 11:33 PM GMT
    hehe TINO!!!!

    Buen post. Y cheverísima la foto.

    Keep going, man.
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    Mar 29, 2012 3:26 AM GMT
    Safe travels my friend. And hpoe to see you in June.
  • austex85

    Posts: 572

    Mar 29, 2012 5:27 AM GMT
    so TX is next? icon_razz.gif
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    Mar 29, 2012 5:32 AM GMT
    Be safe and be well.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 29, 2012 5:41 AM GMT
    Bienvenidos al sur.
    Aproveitar a sua estadia.
    Es totalmente puta mierda.

    icon_biggrin.gif