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27 July 2017


New Home

It’s 9:48, MDT here in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, ‘Merica, Earth. September. 20th. Sunny outside, Fall weather, rain tomorrow.

DK, I enjoyed your stream of consciousness comments, above. As usual you’re all over the place, but that’s how my mind works too, so it’s more comfortable to me perhaps. I’ve noticed that when I read your stuff sometimes it doesn’t seem to sink in right away, but maybe pops up later, in a different context or situation.

The concept of a Third Place, or Third Space is new for me. (I’m trying to catch up for the last lost 20-40 years). I’m seeing places I regularly go to in a new way this week. Especially my regular coffee shop, and a new one that just opened up nearer my new home. (What?, yes, see below.) Also my new gym location and cafes that I frequent. Even the library. Difference from the concept being that I don’t personally interact with hardly anyone there, because I’m just not much of a talker or social person with strangers. Same with social media. Throw some things on FB sometimes, or make plithy comments. So far pretty shallow and irrelevant. That needs to change.

So, yes, this week I put in an offer on a new house, it’s been accepted, we’re now under contract and in the process of closing. I’ll be moving within a month.

Big change for me. Yet, in some ways not so much. I could have gone anywhere. Costa Rica, France, back to Africa, a cabin in the mountains. Could have completely changed my lifestyle and personna. But after a year of reflection and self-examination living in this tiny apartment, isolated in this big nice complex, I decided to stay in Utah, in the same new for me area of Salt Lake valley. Panoramic view of the Wasatch Front from my new living room and upper bedroom. Still even closer to the mountains (4 minutes, and I’m up in Big Cottonwood Canyon). I drove up there yesterday.

That’s where ‘home’ is for me. That’s where I get my renewal, my strength, my joy. The rocks I’ve climbed, the mountains, the geology and time in stone. The overwhelming beauty. The solid security. My connection to the Universe. It will still all be ‘mine’, part of my world, where I belong. Grounded, even rooted perhaps, but not stuck.

I’ll still be close to one of my sons, family, grandchildren. That’s essential.

The kind of dwelling is a compromise. It’s a twin home townhome, with 3 floors, but a vertical layout. Lots of space. Room for people to come and visit and stay. (Including you). An obligatory red front door. A small yard, with grass and a tree, a patio and grill and firepit, a lawn to mow and flowers. Snow to shovel. So, I’ll revert somewhat to suburban living, on a cul de sac. Yet, it’s a reach towards the condo type of space that so many of my generations seem to be moving to. Room to hang my photos, places for my memorabilia.

It’s has a different feel from that suburban cultural desert I was living in, with that woman raising her kids in my house. I’m away from that now. Free. On my own, at last.

My World has expanded. From holed up, with a huge yard, walk to 7-11. Miniscule, only dreaming of travel abroad doing humanitarian goodness. To a geographic expansion. Lots of places within my immediate area now. My bar, my cafe, bagels and mexican and thai food. I’ll have neighbors, close, that this time I’ll try to interact with. Of course, the mountains right there. But now other suburban centers, and Salt Lake City within easy reach. Anywhere in Utah, all of the West, including the Pacific Coast. Freeways. Got my pop-up travel trailer now.

The SL International Airport. Anywhere in the world.

A psychological, emotional, intellectual, personality expansion too.

Because, while this will be Home, the place I come back to, the place I hunker down in for the winter; really this will be my Base Camp. Where I leave from to venture forth, to explore. I’m pretty much stuck on this planet for now, but there’s still so much of it that I haven’t explored. Places, peoples, cultures, ideas, beliefs, understandings. Friendships, love. Things I don’t know I don’t know that I need to know.

Third Spaces.

I’m meeting another son next week, traveling to Arizona. We’ll find California Condors, maybe Trogons from Mexico, and Blue-throated Hummingbirds who should be headed south to Latin America soon.

The world is indeed My Oyster.

I love that you found a place and shared this with us, Bruce. I can picture it, as you described it so clearly.

Seems you have found a groove, yes?

It comes in waves, doesn’t it? Insight?

The rest of the time *seems* like a ‘dip’* but it’s just incubating, processing, steering, reflecting. I think. I don’t know. I feel like we are on the same sine wave, though. I’ve just gotten past the inflection point… heading towards a sort of *decision* as you have, I think, too. Movement, in my case. I’m looking forward to sharing this as it comes into shape.

*Maybe because our culture obsesses on ‘getting it all perfect,’ or at least, pretending. But I’m okay with opting out of that thinking. It helps, being far, FAR away from people who for my whole life kept trying to get me to join that kind of game. Not my bag, though, as they used to say in Seattle. ‘Not my bag.’

Had written a giant note here. Deleted it, feeling like I might be oversharing. Things about the village, about sharing… That was the idea, when this thread came into concept. ‘Work, family and relationships… let’s talk about it! Let’s share!’ Hmmm. Never imagined there would be a development on my own side, about my own family… about things that are going on ‘home,’ but it’s not ‘home’ anymore… I haven’t been there for 4 years, nor have I seen or contacted most people. It’s just… effort. To contact them. To try to connect. There were the odd 2 people who passed through Phnom Penh, from ‘home,’ but one was Seattle-home-friend-of-friend I’d met at a party, then one or two more parties, that kind of loose thing and I was like, ‘Why are you going to visit us from hong kong just because Akira’s your FB friend, and???’ But it was good, in a way, to remember a certain home. Then there was the other visitor, closer to ‘home home,’ from NC. NC is home, sort of. Also a friend of a friend, but more contact in more times than usual… we saw one another weekly, at our friends’ dinner meetup. A weekly thing, that was soo comfy, but it was the thing keeping me from venturing forwards, I see that clearly now. If that dinner party hadn’t been there, every week, for that sense of community, which, you know, it is just… propinquity… then I would have left a year earlier. I’m sure of it. Then again, toting around a small child changes it all. Four. K was 4 when we left. That was a good age; maybe I had it planned, in my heart. I guess going is always on the agenda. Now, there’s a development, I said that… ‘a development.’ Someone may die soon. We don’t know. It’s all in the air, in the unknown. Meantime stress is getting in the bloodstream now, is affecting my day to day. My sleep. Am I supposed to skip over all the getting to know you again steps, the respect and trust making steps? The boundary setting ones? Or am I supposed to just show up at home home, because that’s what home is about? Not sure. Will ponder. Thanks for listening. Phew, feels strange to pour this out. But… Hm. I should learn tai chi, like Bruce. Be able to manage the setbacks, the inevitable things to come… Or not… But someone will die, some of us, in our family, before the others, and we just don’t know how the dice will land, and it’s weird because no one thought it might be a little person. But it might. This is heart wrenching on many levels, complicated by the fact that *we don’t talk*. Dysfunctional? I think yes. Have I been glossing over this all this while, writing here instead about departures, arrivals, about the journeys, about creativity and self reflection, and ignoring the ‘family of origin’ question, on purpose? The news came in mid-May. I guess maybe I was trying not to get too close to this question… who am i, relative to you… what is my responsibility, my social responsibility, to this village, this one that I was born into… even though I didn’t feel good in it…

The millennials write a lot about ‘family.’ I see it when they post pictures of their workmates and say stuff like ‘family’. And i think, you know, that’s just not the same as real family. Your job, you can quit.


BH: MZ, glad to get a chance to meet you and chat just a bit, even if not face to face, and perhaps only one-sided.

I like very much seeing the Berlin of today through your much younger and different perspective eyes.

Memories of days, spaces, time never to come again. Berlin, October 1962. Passing through, coming home from France, a francophile who dislikes Germans. But picked up a volkswagon bug, have some time, took a detour, no one knows I’m here, not supposed to be here. Free, freedom from constraints. Want to see a bit more of Europe before starting a life of adulthood.

It’s not summer, it’s Fall, gray and dreary, bit of drizzle, weather like Geneva, but atmosphere more somber. Buildings, old and gray; so are the people. Still the Cold War. West Berlin is bustling, stores crowded, people working, determined. It’s not France, but seems normal. I’m alone, ever the observer. Little interaction.

Drive into West Berlin. Get a cheap hotel room. Wander the streets. Climb the steps up the crude observation towers to look across the Wall. Grimly serious soldiers with machine guns on the other side too. The Wall’s construction seems sloppy, seems hastily thrown up to me, the former hod carrier. But, it’s thick, and high, and topped with barbed wire, and cuts right thru the middle of town and buildings and streets. Bunches of fading flowers at the base of the wall on our side. In memorium. Where people died trying to get across. People my age, with families. Concrete visual proof of the stark reality of the dangerous world I live in.

Next day I take an official tour bus into East Berlin. Cute little communist female guide giving the propaganda spiel. Sounds like the communist stuff I read in France. But the reality here is stark and striking. The contrast between west and east is obvious. Reconstruction is far behind here. Bombed out churches (“left to show the destruction of American bombers”), sprays of bullet holes in many buildings, little new construction, fewer people on the streets, fewer stores and evidence of economic activity. No sense of joie de vivre here. Grim, frightening.

Driving out, going through the West Berlin check points across the autobahn to West Germany, the vopos give me a really hard time. Turns out, Kennedy and Khrushchev are having a nuclear faceoff over Cuba while I’m there, so maybe that’s why.

Glad to be back in West Germany. Freedom. Like waking from a bad dream.

1962, so long ago. Three marriages, 2 families, lots of jobs later. My world has changed.

So, MZ, people are flocking to Berlin now? Including you. Why?? What’s it like there now? Should I add it to the list of places I want to travel to?

I love your description and analysis. You’ve already answered my question for yourself. It’s a lovely picture. Full of hope. But what about my needs? I’ve got the freedom now, if not the money. Not at all a digital entrepreneur. Speak French, not German.

Should I go to Berlin, instead of say Costa Rica to help poor people and look at birds? Or southern France to drink wine? Or back to Africa, where they really could use a helping hand?

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