Sunday, June 19, 2011

Road Report: Texarkana, the City that Lays It On the LIne

Foreground: Texas. Background: Arkansas
I'd never been to Texarkana. Wait. Which Texarkana am I talking about? Because there are two.

There's Texarkana, Texas.

There's Texarkana, Arkanasas.

Both are cities with populations between 30,000 and 40,000 people.

And they are separated by an invisible line. But invisibility is not an impediment to appreciating civic distinctions. City fathers long ago sought to make the invisible visible. They built a building and put up a sign.

All you have to do is drive downtown and you'll see the impressive combination Courthouse and Post Office built of stone. One half of this building is in Texas. One half is in Arkansas.

Naturally this has any passerby thinking to himself or herself "Photo-op!"

A person can stand here with a foot in each state.

This is what we did. But that wasn't all there was to it.

At that moment I felt very odd vibrations pass through my body. I reached out and touched the metal longitude/latitude sign. It seemed to be pulsing with electromagnetic energy...

Consider this: On the Arkansas side of the line I was sensing Hope, Arkansas which lies less than a hour down the highway. President William Jefferson Clinton was born there.

On the Texas side of the line I felt faint vibrations of President George W. Bush, born somewhat distantly in Midland, Texas.

Both men from these border states grew up and avoided the major danger to their health and welfare, the Vietnam War. Both were criticized for it, yet both men ended up living for 8 years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Did these two men from either side of the line have anything else in common? Well, each of them was likable in person with down-home, relatable personalities. Other than that, though.

Two sides of the line.

The yin and the yang.

Maybe this is why I felt so strange standing there doing my awkward straddle.

And it wasn't just political.

I felt other contraries.

Good and bad.

Light and darkness.

Merciful and pitiless.

Love and hate.

I don't like lines. I find it difficult to detect them. I'll think I'm standing in one place and discover that I'm just a few metaphorical inches removed. That slight shift is enough that I'm actually occupying another territory altogether.

For example, I think I have the smartest idea since that touchstone for my parents, sliced bread! No,turns out  my idea only feels original because it's so dumb  it's never even occurred to anyone before I came along.

Or I think there's a passionate angel whispering in my ear, but it's some devil of unalloyed selfishness.

But don't let this brief philosophical digression mislead anyone. I wasn't trying to discover whether Texas or Arkansas is the better state and then jump to that side of the line. A few minutes later we drove into Arkansas. After all, this is America. If all the red, white and blue flags I kept seeing flying in front of homes and businesses could have spoken words to go with their snapping in the wind, they might have intoned, "It's all good." Isn't that how one wants to feel about one's country?

What I worried about post-Texarkana wasn't the state of the nation, but the state of me. What I'd remembered back there in front of the Courthouse/Post Office is that there's always a line going through the middle of me. It can be a bit disturbing to carry the image futher--to start to visualize the little journeys I make back and forth across that line.

Thoughtful me, thoughtless me.

Gentle me, violent me.

Creative me, mediocre me.

Energetic me, slothful me.

Good me, bad me.

Maybe that's what impelled me a ways down the highway to throw the steering wheel to the right. We took the exit. We were headed to a place called "Hope." - V.W.



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