22 October 2007

Gone Daddy Gone

"...But I have learned some things. I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesterdays are buried deep -- leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance. The cloud clears as you enter it. I have learned this, but like everyone, I learned it late."
--Beryl Markham, "West With The Night"

MALMO--It is almost warm sitting in the afternoon October sun on the raised patio of O'Leary's Sports Bar. I had hoped to find a place showing the baseball games back in The States, to see if maybe The Indians might finally get the pennant. But Swedes seem about as interested in baseball as they are in sending troops to the Middle East and other American pastimes. So no, there was only the other football on the televisions. I had half hoped to walk into a room of rowdy American expats in baseball gear, whip out my new Cleveland ballcap and plant myself among them like just another one of the guys, cheering on our abandoned home-teams way over here in Scandylandia. I had to laugh at myself a bit, searching out televised sports and the men who watch them is an entirely new activity for me but I know that sooner or later I'll want to sit down with a fellow American -- preferably one who appreciates the blondes but not the socialism -- and disect my new home over beer and boneless buffalo herring bites.

The last year has been an exhausting one. There was Sweden ten or so months ago and a long, hard and lonely Ohio winter of which I remember little. It was more snow, more Ohio and a lot of time spent with my best friend Jake after the death of his father, of designing a sapphire ring for a certain Swedish lass and preparing to go back to El Salvador to work on a documentary film for S.A.R.A. (Sharing America's Resources Abroad). I was prepared to go to Salvador in February but the grant money hadn't come through yet and, truth be told, I had a horrible feeling of dread about the trip. It was the same feeling of dread and doom I had had a few years before prior to a trip to Guatemala. On the morning I was to leave for that trip my alarm had never gone off. I rebooked the flight for the next day and felt fine. So, I didn't go to El Salvador in February and feelings of doom aside it was much better in many ways that I went in June and July, leaving a week after Lena visited the States during a beautiful Ohio Spring. And El Salvador was a good trip, at least that in nothing bad happened (more posts about it later) and since my return from Central America my life has consisted of packing up my things, giving things away, filing papers and negatives and saying an endless round of goodbyes. The date of October 10 seemed to hang out there in the future, never getting any closer even if the calander seemed to indicate that it was. A week before that I flew to Phoenix, Arizona for my 20th High School reunion (another story to be sure). Before leaving for there I ran into my friend Andy Strader late one night at the Wal Mart and he asked what I was doing. I told him and he replied, "You never stay still for a second, do you Andrew?"

And the time passed like it always does and then it really was last goodbyes, some hopefull and others, well, I probably won't see you again. Jake drove me to the airport and before we left we had lunch with my mother and then stopped at Seattle's for a coffee to go. Shelly Wilson, one of the owners, asked where we were off to. "Going to Cleveland," I replied, being intentionally vague. But she asked what we were doing in Cleveland and I told her and she bought me a last Guinness which I gulped down on the patio. Another friend, Jamie Miller, stopped in and asked when I was leaving for Sweden.
"Now," I replied."
He laughed, "Really?"
"Yes, now, really, right now."
"Well goodbye, goodluck."

Dr. Jake drove me north and in that last hour claimed to have figured me out psychologically after having observed me for the last six years. He gave me his diagnosis and I couldn't argue, he was right, I am mildly obsessive compulsive, ordering my world in the details of packing and minute planning and perfect equipment, ordering my world by sectioning it into perfect little photographic rectangles and neat descriptions and stories. We approached the airport and Jake cued up Warren Zevon's "My Ride's Here." I shrugged into my old leather jacket, slipped on my wraparound RayBans, centered my new hat, checked the time on my orange face Doxa watch. We stopped at the curb. Iifted on the Lowepro pack filled with Nikons and Leicas and Panasonics, slung the leather satchel containing two Mac laptops over one shoulder and paid the porter to wheel in his cart containing an olive Army deployment pack, a Columbia pack with an old NorthFace Recon pack strapped to it and a Zero Haliburton suitcase. Other than a few boxes I had mailed I had reduced my possesions to a managable amount, what I could take on a plane. Jake took a picture of me with his phone. We hugged, slapped backs, "Take care of yourself you sonofabitch." And like that I was gone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You still owe me $300 for that psych session....i'll bill ya..and no, i don't accept herring...oh, and i think we would all enjoy a bit more detail concerning your equipment/clothing/bags..like what type of paper do you use to wipe your...lens??....J

7:26 AM  

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