• a.m. baker

4. I Want To Leave This Place

Dear Joe,

You really cannot begin to fathom how much I want to leave this place. It has always been a place I like returning to, but it grows stagnant in its pretension quickly and I am 17 years overdue for going someplace else. I am a hostage to a city because I cannot leave my children and I cannot take them from their fathers.

You and the other father long for peace and tranquility in one place—he more so than you. He is grounded to a place and creates a spiritual connection to it. He does not spend frivolously, but he will invest in land and its intrinsic legacy.

You buy and sell land, but always your primary residence. Every residence becomes a husk of you. They do not speak stories of life and love, but tales of oblique destruction. They hold moments of animation in the words of your children as they remember a snippet of a life, carefree and joyous, and associate those memories with an ephemeral homestead because they did not understand that, while employed by one of the wealthiest men in the world, their father became, by necessity, a drifter at his core.

This is what I watch for with Sol, as remembers Daddy’s house, and Daddy’s other house, and the house Daddy lived in before that. These are all houses in his lifetime. None is a home because none has a soul, life, joy, light.

I wanted these things with you—you said you wanted them, too. Then you said you just didn’t want them with me, but that was a lie designed to hurt. The truth is, you don’t know how, so you destroy. You find it to be the greatest and most awesome task of your life—you want it, your loneliness craves it. When you reach that zenith point when all your wants, fears, and pleasure come together, you ris everything for a moment and gamble on love, family, and sex. But it is arduous, especially once your desire for new fruit comes to life—one feeds the other. The arduousness of the task and the loss of novelty of the tarnished object of that once keen desire.

It is far easier for you to live within yourself, to revel in having made children but to also be disappointed that they do not fulfill you more. You want a lover, someone to see you for a moment, and then, as you wish, to not see you and go away and return at your desire. You want your mother. You want the mother who would come to you when you called. You will always be the parent who comes at the slightest calling of his children because you can never get that lonely despair completely out of your heart. You want to be home, you want a home. You have not put together the basic truth that having a house does not make you home.

The same things that make a home drive you mad with redundancy and banality, foreign and repugnant the lack of excitement are to you. They are what fuel your restlessness.

What fuels my restlessness is the desire to know Other. It is why I like to travel and stay in strangers’ homes when I do. It is what makes traveling alone preferable to me, but it is also a way to enclose myself, which looks not a little like a metaphor for my relational life. I seek out Other alone because I know I missed something important and that forms the basis of my fear now that I am not good enough. I seek it out alone so that, should I learn something in a way humiliating to me, my lover, my friend will not bear witness to my ignorance, will not bear witness to me learning something I might have been supposed to have learned as a child, and I do not want to discuss my childhood. My pretend adult self is wise, knowing, and one with Other, so if I do not know something and my desired Other learns that I am not, then I am exposed and shamed.

No, this is too much a burden for anyone to bear. Perfection has always equaled isolation, and even introverts are social.

I want to leave this place because there is no accounting for the use or taxation of this po-dunk overgrown logging town, and the people do not speak the truth.

No, I am one of its people, and that is not the truth. If it were, why would I call this place home and long to return when I have been sated by my journey?

I want to leave this place because I cannot gain traction in connection in a meaningful way. I fear data and artificial intelligence. I fear our fragile connection to one another as a network of resources, knowledge, ability, and frailty is closing off faster than I can restore human connections and fear that all nuance and intuition will be lost to algorithms.

I want to study the endangered relationships of people and peoples who have only just begun to become plugged in but have already paid with the enormity of tidal fluctuations in their latitudinal bands.

Yes, this is closer, but it is still not at the heart.

I want to leave this place while I mourn the loss of failed love and mend my sad heart. I want to see myself walking a sunny street in a foreign-speaking country, to negotiate a bus or a fruit vendor/ I want to see myself through the pristine response of faces I have never met, and meet them with an exchange—of earnest human interaction as we work together, in tandem, in connection, to understand one another where we are and to be accept and be satisfied by that exchange.

I want to wonder about the people I see, their lives, whether they have children, whether the children have parents, what they do for work, how young the children are before they go to the streets to work selling candy or trinkets. And if we happen upon each other another time on the street or on a bus, we remember, smile, and shake hands or give a light hug if appropriate We may walk a while. They may show me parts of their city that are the most majestic, breathtaking, have special meaning to them, is the view their city is known for. We may spend the next 20 years in intermittent contact, framed only by the week or two of daily walks and mimed or pidgin conversations, bridged with lots of eye contact, hand gestures, and blind trust and openness. Sometimes the foreigner is a he, and sometimes he falls in love with me, so he always wonders what it would be like to hold me, know the smell of my hair and sweat and skin, and carry that created memory in his senses far longer than he would in Technicolor.

Yes, all of this, but this is not the answer.

I want to leave this place because I want to be free to be the me I think I see when it is through someone else’s eyes. I want to be the me you saw through your eyes I want to know I am that me even when you said I no longer was. I always was; I still am. But I cannot find that me. I feel you jamming my signal. I need to get far, far away from you so that the signal won’t be jammed and I will be able to sit in the awareness that you will not come after me—you are not that lover. You are not that Man. You are not that friend.

I want to go away from this place so I can be free of the knowledge that I gave you so much power over me.


I want to go away from this place as I own how much power I gave you over me.


I want to go away from this place as I mourn the loss of dreams.




Loving you was the most vulnerable thing I ever did, and I did not do it all the way.

I want to go away because what my record keeps skipping on is that I was not perfect. I do not get to be a victim, some poor other girl in the wake of your destruction.

I want to go away from this place because I feel me jamming my signal and claiming it is you.

I want to go away because although every one of our friends bore witness to our path of destructive chaos, we did not. I was not wise. I am not knowing. I was not one with Other. I feel exposed. Humiliated. Husked. Spent. I want to hide. I want to recharge. I want to laugh and be frivolous.

I want to remember to learn some Other outside of myself. I want a bigger representation of the human experience because this myopic tunnel where I have resided feels claustrophobic and yet I realize it is my own mind and heart binding me.

I am bound by the narrative of “if only.” It is clearly not working.

I am bound by the mythos of the Big Bad Wolf.

Really, Little Red, how many times ya’ gonna run the same scenario before you accept that you took the role of empty dither-headed little victim of a perpetrator instead of owning yourself as co-conspirator? There was something in it for you that you cannot run away from, but you will play it over and over until you turn around, exactly in the spot where you stand, and look at it, face it, own it, re-design it.

No one else can do it, and it doesn’t matter where you are because it lives in the seat of my being. So it doesn’t really matter where I am because wherever that is, I will still be me, I will be enlightened or not, I will be exactly as I am wherever I exactly am in any given moment. As long as I choose not to be, being anywhere but here will seem like a good idea.

It is running away from myself. Running away from now. Afraid of what or who I will see if I slow down long enough to see the Boogie Man chasing me, terrified when I recognize that it is me, in collusion with myself over the denial of Shadow.

I want to leave this place behind that has me passive on a ride. I want to move the internal landscape around, like rearranging the furniture. My couch seems to be blocking the door to the viscera, as well as all the exits, creating an impossible scenario where I have become jaundiced and peristaltic. Somewhere along my learning—definitely formative—I learned to block the exits and the bathroom in the internal landscape.

Well, duh. That’s silly. Really could have avoided some unsavory choleric scenes in our living spaces had the access points been accessible.

[Just moving the couch.


Oh, much better.]

It is my responsibility to keep access open interiorly, It was never yours. It was you, however, that led me finally to do the inspection where I came up with this mish-mash plan, like finally going under the crawl space to define those scritching noises that one previously had not wanted to identify, and then finding that dealing with them and sealing things properly is not so bad and not nearly as scary as it was in the fantasy of the nightmare imagination.

Sorry about our house. Even tragedy has a way of teaching us something as we move forward.

The view from this vantage is much better, at once revealing that the view was not the problem—it was the outlook. The view would surely change my visual perception but the outlook is the place from which that vista could be viewed.

Only in this experience would I be sitting here now considering these landscapes and internal rhythms. Only in re-considering the landscapes is the narrative allowed to fluctuate. Fluctuation is the absolute polar juxtaposition of stagnation. The gauge did tell me that something was in flux. It was stagnation. It wanted something, and it was not going to be resolved by external movement. It only became un-stagnated through internal movement. Sticking it out for my children—not leaving them and not taking them from their fathers—gave me the fortitude to make this distinction. I am grateful that I have the ability to put them first.


#dearjoe #outlooknottheview #escher #geographic #pullageographic #peristalsis #book #epistles #letters #dignity #integrity #veritas


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