Border Crossings

Crossing borders can be uncertain. You might find a used condom under a bed in a hotel on the Ethiopia/Kenya border, or you might not almost be let into Syria because you put ‘news assistant’ on the customs form (thank you, stranger, who somehow convinced the custom officials to let me in after an hour of discussion. The official ripped up the form and instructed me to put “secretary” on it instead).

Or, it might be reaching your hands to the windshield and yelling “First to Missouri!” or “First to Washington!” in triumph as the car passes over an invisible line.

There are liminal periods and transitioning places and collaboration around borders too, such as the town Kanorado on the edge of Kansas and Colorado, or Calexico near California and Mexico.

We all know borders are arbitrary, constructed to create order over open lands and along rivers.

Our internal borders are arbitrary too, ones that we build from our past to identify ourselves and categorize our lives.

But, they are there for a reason. Perhaps it is so we can cross them.

Just Today, Just Now

My name is Kimberly Jane Bowker. I am 31-years-old. This is who I am:

Sitting on top of big-ass sand dune, on a log, my feet stuck into the sand and jean cuffs rolled up. Lake Michigan stretches before me – a lake that looks like an ocean.

I climbed the dune under clouds. Light beams through holes onto the water

A woman in a vacant parking lot below feeds bags of cheap white bread to seagulls. The grey gulls flock around her, their voices contending to be noticed.

It’s like the people who feed pigeons at Trafalgar Square.

I want to feed them too. To be in the middle of it, to be in that.

I descend the sand dune in deep strides, and ask if I can join her.

She hands me half loaves of the bread. I tear the slices into pieces and throw them. Some are thrown closer – to the patient and quiet gulls – and then high to the ones who are flying and who catch the crumbs mid-air.

The woman feeding the seagulls wears a shiny necklace, black slacks, and a nice purple shirt. Her thoughts do not come out conventionally: the policemen are damn assholes. They took her car. She wants to sell antiques. The man she married (whom she shouldn’t have married), cut her head. That’s shit.

I don’t know why she feeds the seagulls. She didn’t tell me, or maybe she did and I didn’t hear.

But I am here. Someone, just now. Here, in the middle of it. With someone else.