Friday, October 18, 2013
Matt Forney Can't Go Home Again
I think there is a general consensus that Matt Forney is a Terrible Person, no?
After reading one of his recent posts, it's also clear that he is a Complete Wuss.
In "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within," he recounts a terrifying experience in which, while visiting a convenience store in upstate New York, he is forced to interact with a black guy. Forney knows the black guy is "a bum" because he is "clad in a plaid shirt and dirty jeans." Forney assumes he is being "hustled" because he is "dressed like a rich guy." (Now I've seen at least three pictures of Forney, and in none of them does he look like someone who has more than two nickels to rub together. If this guy was indeed targeting Forney in order to menace him, it is more likely because he sensed Forney's fear, which made him seem vulnerable.)
Forney reports that his old Rochester neighborhood is becoming gentrified, whilst the "sprawling ghetto" surrounding it is being invaded by "scum" "emboldened" to "terrorize" nice [white?] neighborhoods.
As far as I know, Forney has only lived in three states: New York, North Dakota, and Oregon (and the latter two quite briefly). However, based on this vast experience, he can declare that the entire nation is quickly morphing into one huge coast-to-coast Portland. [Sigh! If only!]
Forney feels himself to be a stranger in a strange land... "like a soldier [!] returning home from a war to find the same people doing the same things, still going nowhere in life..."
The reader wonders how a few months tasting the music scene and railing about fat girls in Portland equates to a tour of combat, but the part of "still going nowhere in life" would seem consistent with Forney's own lack of direction.
Forney muses, "While I'm a success in my personal life [again, I really need some photographic evidence here], there's one urge I'll never be able to fulfill: the desire to belong."
I'm such a softie that I find Forney's claim of "personal success" heart-breakingly delusional.
Anyway, having had this epiphany -- that he will never belong anywhere -- Forney announces he will be undertaking a second hitch-hiking trip, even though "the optimism, the joy of discovery is gone" (since he already knows the whole country is actually just Portland after all).
It's not simple curiosity or desire to visit "California, the Grand Canyon, the South and whatnot [sic]... " that sends ol' Forney down that ribbon of highway, but rather "a compulsion to insert myself into stressful, life-threatening situations... because I'm a junkie searching for an adrenaline high."
(BTW, unless Forney is planning to bungie-jump into the Grand Canyon, I can assure him that a visit to our national treasure is actually a pretty low-risk venture. I was there a few months ago, along with about a dozen other seniors in various stages of decrepitude.)
Then Forney adds, "And because if you feel like an outsider no matter where you are, one place is as good as the next."
Oh really? Cuz that's not been true in my experience. For example, having lived in both Italy and Saudi Arabia, I can attest that I found Italy to be a much better place to be an "outsider" in. Just take my word on this.
Forney caps this post by musing, "If you romanticize this kind of thing [?], I'm pretty sure you're missing the point." Of course, romanticizing his own lack of direction, his inability to connect with people, to establish or even maintain relationships, is exactly what he is doing here.
Now why do I call Matt Forney a wuss? Well, I'll have you know that I myself was rather an adventurous traveler back in the day. For example, when I was twenty-two -- younger than the intrepid MF himself -- I traveled solo from Kabul to Istanbul on buses and third class trains. ("Midnight Express," anyone?) And I was a girl. Sure, there were some tense moments, which made for great "stories" later, but I can proudly declare that I never "lost" my "bearings" the way Forney did when he was approached by a black man on a busy street in Rochester in broad daylight.