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Monday, April 22, 2013

On Leaving America - 23 April 2013

In my hometown

Well, actually Federal Way is not my home town, but after leaving San Francisco (also not my home town,) I lived in Federal Way for some twenty-four years. Federal Way does not have the best of reputations, though there are some very nice, and very expensive areas with beautiful homes. Driving through the main thoroughfare is like crosstown traffic through a series of strip malls, large and small businesses along Pacific Highway: filling stations, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, 3 star motels, hardware stores, and Macy’s. Auto repair shops, tire sales, pawnshops and mattress dealers that have displayed ‘going out of business’ sales for the last fifteen years.

Pac Highway runs parallel to an Interstate, I-5, that passes through Oregon and loses itself at the Mexican border, south of Los Angeles. A police car is always parked outside the local high school - for good reason. Shit happens in Federal Way. The town council makes a nonstop effort to renew it’s image.

Gun-play is not uncommon, every month or so . . . a drive-by, gang things, marital problems. Yesterday the incident posted below was on the Internet.

A gun battle near Seattle led to the shooting deaths of five individuals on Sunday night, according to local authorities. One of the victims was killed by police when he threatened officers responding to the violent scene.
The shooting occurred at Pinewood Apartments in Federal Way, located roughly 20 miles south of Seattle. Police received reports of gunfire at approximately 9:30 pm and arrived at the complex as shots were still being fired.

Pinewood Apartments are less than a kilometer from the quiet suburban neighborhood where we lived before the move to Sweden. It will be the subject of conversation there for a few days, then forgotten, a less than major event. This is a part of America and interesting to observe and think about from this distant point of view.

I love guns, always have. I grew up with guns. I hunted and did target shooting for fun. I could knock a tossed half dollar out of the sky when I was seventeen. I loved the mechanical aspect of weapons, their ingenious designs . . . aesthetics of pure function; the smell of gun oil and cordite - so American.

The right to bear arms is a massive right, an unusual and incredible freedom born out of a time when guns made life possible. Now they seem more disposed to the ending of same. I’ve had arguments about this here in Sweden and come to realize what an incredible freedom that really is, and realized a previously unfelt feelings for the ‘wild west’ nature of America, a wildness and freedom I confess to loving . . . and missing in this nation of prohibitions and laws - which make sense. I admit they make sense.

Americans will be arguing about gun laws long after I am gone from this planet. I can not imagine a solution. Thirty million guns, how will they take all those away? Those with the power to do so would seem to me as fearsome as the weapons themselves.

Those of you who follow my ramblings will remember my sadness in giving up weapons I hadn’t used in over twenty years, in order to make this move to Sweden. I still miss having them. If only we could outlaw madness, and hatred, and revenge. We live in difficult times, with no clear leaders and the greatest crimes, the ones that kill the most of us, remain unseen, like water moving under frozen rivers.

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