Sometimes, when we’re desperate and sad, we’ll go crazy at some party or on the sidewalk, we’ll drink too much or get too excited and make a scene that is so abrupt it will make us happy again. But it is best when it happens with hundreds of us, thousands of us, all together, no longer just crazy and sad but also joyous, rebellious, and free. This is best.

7th January 2013

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The sidewalks in the Redevelopment were wooden, to give the effect of 1850.
Quintana was walking ahead of us.
The lawn pinafore, the big hat, the wooden sidewalk, the shimmer of the heat.
My father’s great-grandfather had owned a saloon on Front Street.
I was about to explain this to Quintana - the saloon, the wooden sidewalk, the generations of cousins who had waked just as she was walking down just this street on days just this hot - when I stopped. Quintana was adopted. Any ghosts on this wooden sidewalk were not in fact Quintana’s responsibility. This wooden sidewalk did not in fact represent anywhere Quintana was from. Quintana’s only attachments on this wooden sidewalk were right now, here, me and my mother.
In fact I had no more attachment to this wooden sidewalk than Quintana did: it was no more than a theme, a decorative effect.
It was only Quintana who was real.

Later it seemed to me that this had been the moment when all of it - the crossing, the redemption, the abandoned rosewood chests, the lost flatware, the rivers I had written to replace the rivers I had left, the twelve generations of circuit riders and county sheriffs and Indian fighters and country lawyers and Bible readers, the two hundred years of clearings in Virginia and Kentucky and Tennessee and then the break, the dream of America, the entire enchantment under which I had lived my life - began to seem remote.

— Joan Didion, Where I Was From

Tagged: Joan DidionWhere I Was FromCaliforniaAmericamyths

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