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Monday, October 1, 2012

On Leaving America - Part 20

Still Packing

October already. How can it possibly be October already. Days come flying by. I thought it would take a week or two to pack. Been at it seven days a week for two months now, but the end’s in sight . . . sort of. I’d say we’re 80%. At last I’m cleaning up my office, trying to clear the desk, digging up papers I hadn’t looked at for years, and more old photographs. I try to take it easy Mondays, but there are always decisions, thing that m be done . . . like getting rid of things, trying to sell things, giving things to friends.
            It’s good to give things to good friends. It’s either them or Goodwill, and Craig’s list of course. Sold a film camera I loved for years . . . traveled around the world with, Asia, South America, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal. knew that camera like a part of my body. Haven’t used it for three years. Who wants a film camera in this digital world. I tried to give the thing away but couldn’t find a taker. Beautiful piece of equipment:  Canon A-1. still good for another decade easy .  .  . made useless by time. But I got lucky, some guy going to a cinematography school bought it. There were filters, also lenses that will not fit a new Canon Digital camera. Odd how often that happens.  Probably around $4000 worth of gear . . . now useless. But this guy was delighted to have it and I was delighted to sell it to him for $200. Wife and I aren’t into yard sales. And it’s not so  easy giving things away. I traded a really nice drill press for two hours of Mexican labor—yard work. I’ve used that drill press once or twice a month for this and that . . . for years.
            But it’s a good thing, all this moving, in a way—a cleansing. Hundreds of small things go to Goodwill, eleven trips there so far. Amazing the mountains of stuff that accumulate there in a single day. Piles of TVs, furniture, desks and tables—useable stuff, not new but in excellent condition. Stuff people in third world counties would be delighted to own. Tons of clothing comes in every day as things go out of style. My wife has donated a lot of very expensive clothes purchased in Europe. Fifteen years old, some of them. Once again, something of quality made to last—but out of style. I have a like-new Sony video camera that uses tapes. In perfect condition almost useless. You can do the same thing with a cell phone now. Beauty changes. So damn hard this getting rid of things.
            The most frightening imaginable state of existence: An old folks home . . . some kind of care facility. Where nothing is yours . . . nothing is personal, at best a lamp, a few framed photographs. If you’ve reached sixty (my congratulations!) chances are you’ve visited a friend or relative in one of these. People just passing time, most doing fairly well with it. They have each other to talk to, or not and card games—TV. Esthetic isolation. The horror!
            I think it was James Thurber who said he wanted to die by being bitten by a blue mamba inside the Taj Mahal.  Burroughs said something about checking out face down next to a urinal in the mens' room of  third rate saloon. Benares, (Varanasi) India would be my choice. To be sitting on the ghats, those stone steps, watching the Ganges pass by . . . temple bells tolling. Boats gliding on the river—ancient oarsmen. The odd wandering goat, or bullock. Life passing by . . . and death. A vulture or two float overhead, keeping an eye on things. There used to be sheltered stone areas where people could wait to die. I think users had to move to another spot every week or so, to make sure they weren’t faking their impending death.
            Those waiting were all men when I was there.  Men totally without possessions. People gave them food of coins. The rags they wore did not have pockets.

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