Q. How Do You Find America?
A. I honestly don’t know any more. When I moved to Kansas City from Ireland 7 years ago [in 1999] as an illegal immigrant, everything then was new. That was the time to ask me how I found America. So let me go back in time and answer your question.
Q. It is several weeks after you have moved from Ireland to Kansas City. How do you find America? What’s going on there in Kansas City?
A. Having satisfactorily finished my medication and probably my career, I have taken to enjoying the small life I have built here. After sitting on my bed watching the lightning all night I jump up early, say half-7 or maybe 8. This is not early for the Midwest. I strut around my house, a small football bouncing off my limbs, whilst I wait for the kettle to boil.
Then I sit down on my couch waiting for the tea to draw, with the radio loudly playing on my knee as I look out the window at the trees across the road and the squirrels doing their stuff. Sometimes I put the radio on in a different room to the one I’m in so I can wonder if there’s somebody else in my house. There’s a lot of space in America.
I answer my groovy cordless phone and talk seductively on my wicker rocking chair. Then I walk out onto my porch proudly surveying my land whilst earnestly conversing away. Typically then I might sit on the porch, tea in hand and let my legs dangle over the growingly impressive pile of tea leaves. I am hoping to create a tea-leaf border around my porch. Cheaper than buying mulch. Much.
I spot a neighbour calling a missing dog and, fearful of an introduction, I retreat back in to my couch and let the radio throb in my lap like a memory. Anti-social I might be but my lawn looks better than theirs. It’s an important a part of the culture of suburbia. Hanging baskets, painted window shutters, some large flower pots, a mini trellis perhaps, a rockery over there, a touch of crazy paving here, a bamboo garden would be nice.
I could do so much. Melon seeds and seeds for sunflowers will be planted next month. And probably the carrots and turnips too. Gotta get into red peppers. So easy to grow here I believe. And yellow. Not sure about purple but want to grow them simply because it’s funny saying purple peppers. Say it again if you don’t believe me. Would probably require legal permission to come back and pick them though. Wonder if the immigration authorities consider harvesting of vegetables as a good reason to return.
After a disappointing week of no progress with employment or immigration, I go ahead and have an amazing weekend.
From lunch time Friday I go AWOL with a couple of friends for the day. A drive to relive a brief moment of my cross-country bicycle trip, a couple of bars, some great food, kids in the playground, beer in the shade (I get leaflets in my mailbox asking me if I have a shade problem in my garden), and then it’s the early hours.
Repeat process on Saturday only multiply kids. Stop off at another friend’s house to drop off beer and stay for countless hours. Big family, big porch. Lots of beer. Art on the walls. Fantastic food. Another decadent salad, and the outrage of eating so far beyond hunger. Even tea after the sun went down.
Bedtime you might think, like I. But what the heck a late drink in my local to introduce myself. Meet a girl who left her husband because she wasn’t ever attracted to him to the extent that they never just climbed up there on the washing machine and went for it. I say something about a microwave.
She says all she wants now is a lot of me-time. And a lot of money. Faced with such selflessness I tell her my legal woes. She says she’ll marry me to make me legal. She says she’ll do it for a lot of money. I say something about a microwave.
After 5 hours sleep I leap up and cut the grass before the thunderstorms and before the neighbours. God their gardens are starting to look shoddy. Forgetting that my mother won’t have got the letter I haven’t yet mailed where it outlines the sad series of predicaments I’m facing, I phone and try to convince her it isn’t all bad and that in fact I am having a great time. She tells me I’m not supposed to be having a great time; I’m supposed to be getting legal. I tell her well it isn’t that great a time, but I have been lent a microwave.
Such is being actually from Ireland in this town, that when I go to a bar it won’t take my money. Surely this can’t last. I have to remind myself that this is not a love song. I mean that this is not a vacation. Technically speaking a weekend should end there in the early hours of Sunday night/Monday morning but I still seem to be enjoying myself.
I dance all day Monday in between phonecalls about my future. News is bleak so I keep dancing. And then I have an epiphany. One even better than the one about the arrangement of the wires for plugging the phone in. It is to do with painting and careers. And things come into focus.
So before the final legal consultation I tell my friend. I can tell he is worried about the implications for his mortgage I’m paying for him. So I try to explain that I’m not unhappy, and to convince him I tell him about the dancing. I can tell he is still worried.
Speak with another attorney. The news isn’t great but unsolicited he does say it isn’t the end of the world. Outside the sky darkens and the world ends.
The attorney is clear on how I can sue my erstwhile employers, and/or get them into huge trouble with the authorities. I say I want to focus on myself and my immediate monetary problems. I never mention a microwave. The meeting with this $300 an hour man crystallizes everything. I am too well versed in immigration law.
So all I have to do from here on in is survive. It’s more complicated than that but not a whole lot. Starting to identify more and more with Geronimo. On the run from the American authorities whilst trying to live a free and peaceful life. I too am likely to pop in and out of international borders and am already considering the benefits of killing white people.
In short, I can afford to live (but not eat or drink) for another 4 months. If I make no income before then I’ll be returning to 1986. Apart from a fuller head of hair and my obvious good looks it doesn’t hold much attraction. I shall fight to stay longer. I shall kill white people.
For most of the weeks I have been here I have been sick - allergies mostly - it happens a lot to people who move to this part of the country, bombarded as it is by the elements from all 4 directions.
The months ahead shall not be easy - legally I cannot work for anyone until autumn at the earliest, and then subsequent only to being declared a cleansed person. But I knew that coming here and am prepared to give it a go. I mean, imagine being able to watch your own melons grow.