Matt Forney
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A Fugitive and a Vagabond in the Earth

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I am so fucking tired of Gotye.

The hubbub over “Somebody That I Used to Know” ended back in August, but the residents of this hick boomtown didn’t get the memo. I hear that fucking song five times a day here.

I hear it in the coffeeshop.

I hear it at the gym.

I hear it at the supermarket.

I hear it at the gas station.

I even hear it at fucking Taco John’s.

I feel decidedly out of place here. This town is full of mustachioed rednecks cruising around in their pickup trucks blaring classic country or nu-metal. A lot of people here are afflicted with the God virus; almost as many churches as bars. It’s a gigantic sausage fest; the only young, attractive girls are either prostitutes, strippers or underage.

If it weren’t for the fact that I’m guaranteed to get rich here, I’d have turned tail and run within hours of getting dropped off.

In a recent blog post, Spike Gomes describes himself as a “provincial”:

I am a failed cosmopolitan, lacking the wherewithal to transmute myself to different climes and languages, to insert myself into different social circles, to flourish in alien soils. I once sought to tell stories of my journeys, to be more than the resident of a middling town on a small island. In my youth I leaned towards distant suns, ones read about in books and in songs and movies. I saw myself going there and everywhere. I followed my dreams, not knowing the difference between them and ambitions. The thing about dreams is that you eventually wake up.

I don’t know if it’s possible to both fail at being cosmopolitan and provincial, but I’ve certainly tried.

My homeland is a wretched stretch of mud and clay in the backwoods of New York. All the prestige of being from the Capital of the World (at least when I’m talking to Midwestern rubes for whom Manhattan is the end-all-be-all of the Empire State), none of the practical benefits. I’ve been all over the state as well as parts of New England and Canada—Albany, Burlington, Ithaca, NYC, Montreal—and left each place feeling exactly the same way:

I don’t belong here.

When college rolled around, I was eager to escape Syracuse and my petit bourgeois peers, the morbid atmosphere of a town going nowhere. I spent my time as a kid playing video games, reading books by dead white men, and listening to obscure bands like Sonic Youth. I couldn’t pretend to care about college basketball or celebrity gossip or the other things everyone around me cared about. I couldn’t wait to get out and to a land I could truly call home.

  • Vermont was cool until I realized it was full of stuck-up, sanctimonious hippies.
  • I latched onto nearby Quebec in the embarrassing way Americans desperately identify with foreign cultures, only to discover that the place is nothing but Vegas by way of an Alabaman trailer park, the French-speaking being the last remnant of a long-dead civilization inherited by slobbering inbred retards.
  • I looked to Albany to free me from the hell of small-town America, and found only a bunch of nasty-minded middle-class mediocrities whose only concern was sleepwalking through another workweek so they could veg out in front of the boob tube.

I go to new places and leave wanting to burn them to the ground.

This trip is the furthest I’ve ever been from home. I’ve spent two weeks in Chicago, a month and a half in Madison, a long weekend in Des Moines, and a week in the Twin Cities. I loved each of them (except maybe Des Moines; were it not for FFY and Bronan being around, I’d have probably hated it), but I felt alienated in each one of them. Madison was the one place I felt like I might belong, provided I shut my mouth and just nodded along whenever one of the liberals started running their mouths.

I don’t fit in back home, don’t fit in with my family, and I’ll probably never fit in anywhere.

When you’re a rootless misanthrope, one place looks as good as the next. I’ll probably end up hating Portland as well and jumping ship to Brazil or Thailand, which will end with me angrily ranting about how much the place sucks as I seek a new land to wring clean like a sponge.

And so I sit in this hick boomtown on the far east side of the West, listening to Gotye being piped through the speakers, and wonder where I’m going next.

Read Next: Notes from the Road: Madison, Wisconsin is the Greatest City on Earth