a detour to emptiness


I came to the Great Plains looking for history and all I found was failure. It’s so windy here I can hardly stand. I can hardly see. All around me the Saskatchewan prairie grass bends and shivers, to the right, to the left, right, left, looking like it’s trying to find its sea legs. The clouds storm over the gray expanse of sky. The prairie is indifferent. It has looked the same for many years to many people, promising abundance and delivering the opposite. I came to find the town of Hoffer, but it’s not exactly clear where Hoffer begins, where I was before, or exactly where I am now. When I ask my family where the farm was, they say Hoffer, but sometimes Oungre, and Sonnenfeld, and around Hoffer, and also around Oungre. All I can see is grass and sky. In the tale of modern North America, the East was for recreating the old, the West was for creating the new, but the Plains just kicked your ass. Even the desert was more inviting than this. The desert calls to the music makers and dreamers of dreams, swimming pools, and movie stars. When the pioneers of yore offered their identities to the desert, it filled the void with romance. You went to the prairies, on the other hand, if you were trying to prove yourself, work hard. On the Prairie, you sacrificed your identity not for romance but for purpose. On the Prairie, pioneering wasn’t a path, the temporary road to eventual success, it was a lifestyle; identity was at one with the land.

more from Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set here.