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Monday, October 15, 2012

On Leaving America - part 23

Only the garage left to clean up.

15 October 2012.
The time is passing so damn fast, there’s less and less of it to call our own each day. Still busy packing. My wife has more clothes than Queen Elizabeth, and gotten rid of a lot of them. I feel her pain. We’re both still getting rid of things. Some things we like a lot. Some things we’ve loved, and had with us for a long time. Bones of our fathers—to the Goodwill and Salvation Army . . . friends and relatives. So hard to letting go of what won’t travel. At the same time I feel lucky, on rare nights I force myself to watch the TV news I see towns devastated, bombed . . . and thousands killed and people homeless. Homeless and jobless here.

The moving guy came to estimate our cost for getting things to Sweden. His dollar guess is higher than my parents paid for their first home Southern Illinois suburban home. There will of course be Real estate fees, the selling costs, the listing fee alone—$9000. Moving is expensive. Those who have done this, know that. I did not. There’s  also hidden costs of leaving.

Friends of a lifetime:
It so crazy. Friends I haven’t seen in person these last fifty years, but we’re in touch—computers, e-mail once or twice a month. Some times a joke cartoon. Just something to say where still here, cyber beep, a ping. An old friend has just found me . . . roommate from my college days. It’s great. He lives in Indiana, some 2000 miles away. One of his relatives, a sister maybe, is a cop who’s job is finding people. As it happens he is also moving. Photographs and old friends keep on turning up, evoking thought and feeling . . . guilt, as if I’m leaving them behind, but leaving what? What is the difference if I am a thousand or six thousand miles away? And yet I feel it, and they feel it.

There is guilt for leaving U.S. when it’s going through such a hard time. It seems almost like running away, to escape, though that has never been the reason. Though a reason might be found.There’s so much talk about the shrinking middle class here, but the Middle class has never been so many, either here or anywhere. They own small businesses—have good jobs . . . doctors, dentists. . . . Far so many more are working class. Some of them think they’re middle class, and even vote middle class. My father defined himself as middle class. He was a welder—came home dirty. Two of my first childhood words were “Dirty daddy.”

Working class: The eighty-five percent of us who go to jobs we’re not in love with, and feel lucky to have them. Blue and white collar. Young men getting killed in places with names they can’t pronounce. Military/Industrial making a lot of money. Do you have a beach house or a mountain house? – Do you have a home? It’s worse in other places.
I don’t know the politics in Sweden, some kind of socialism I have not been able to fully understand as yet. Not knowing is the strength of man and beast, someone said. It might be nice to be totally unaware of what’s going on in the world, But that won’t happen. I’ll get world news on the English T.V. channels. ‘Shell’s Tar Sands Mine Threatens Boreal Forest.’ Car bombs and what the rerrorists are up too. Swedish news is mostly in the native tongue. Americans don’t care about a traffic jam in Stockholm or who the king spent time with this last weekend. Sweden has a royal family. Ancient customs . . . Maypoles and Midsummer solstice – equinox. This culture’s been around a long long time.

The Politics of Flags:
Since 9/11 there has been a thing with U.S. flags. If you were selling flags in 2001, you’ve made a profit these last year. Mine was made in China. Pins are also popular. No politician would dare to show up without a flag pin in his lapel. It would be the end of their career, a certainty. Makes me a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it shouldn’t. I thought I would see fewer flags in Sweden, but there seemed to be about the same. Swedish flags hung in so many yards and houses. I don’t remember seeing that in Germany when I was there. I think they got over it.
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It will be fun to communicate with the old roommate who so recently found me. We were twenty, having some very good times, and a some bad times . . . lost loves and car accents. It will be fun to reminisce, recall things, incidents— fast cars and alcohol, and women. It’s like sitting on the porch with him. This is what old folks do I guess. Trade stories and recall. Do you remember . . . ?
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