Today I retired again. Moving forward.
Good evening. My name is Tim Tendick, and I used to be an English teacher.
Last days are an odd thing. Every gesture and act, even silly small ones for saps like me, is noted with the slight smile of finality. Last car rental. Last coffee at the favorite cafe. Last tram ride, train ride, bike ride down the middle of empty streets with soft air wrapping my face. Last goodbye to good people I met.
By now I know the odds of ever seeing these faces again is slight, although on the other side of the coin I’ve revisited ones I’d never thought to see again.
But the face I am moving towards seeing again is another of my own. The traveler me.
I have enjoyed being sedentary. I discovered that I like living abroad as much as I’d hoped I would. That Belgiumis a great country, endlessly interesting and brilliantly fucked up, just like everything else humans do.
When I got back from NepalI took off my sandals, put on my normal shoes, and it felt weird. When it got cold here, the Belgian Winter my sometime mistress, I put on my boots, and it felt weird. Now the boots feel normal, the solid clock of the heel on cobblestones or in train cars is background noise. So it’s time to change again, back to the sandals of a traveler, and it’ll feel weird…at first.
But it’s nothing retrograde, it’s all forward. (After all, the Nepal sandals were imitation Teva’s and fell apart on my feet after two months.) But where will that forward motion take me?
First back to America. Back to my country. My country? This was on the cover of the daily newspaper that floats around trains here.
This is what people are seeing of America. I can’t tell which is the salient sign of insanity here. Is it the “Don’t believe the liberal media” sign clutched in her claw? The Gingrich sticker slapped on her frickin forehead? No, I think it is the fanatical light of idiotic certainty blazing from her frightened eyes that look out at an ineffably mysterious world and instead of bowing in abject love of the Beauty, instead seek the loudest jackass in the room to tell her How It Is. She needs a simple explanation. She needs an enemy. She needs a scapegoat and blinders to shrink the world down to something she can claim to understand, and can then dismiss.
My country? Do I have to?
But asking that question is exactly why I need to go back. She is not America. Part of it, sure, but that fearful need to bleach the world down to black and white is a human trait, not an American one…hopefully.
I need to see real Americans, not the ones on TV. I need to see my friends and family. I need open spaces, absence of pavement, presence of growing things, and TREES glorious TREES! Morning mist on the divine Pacific Ocean, the waves that don’t notice me but will lovingly kill me anyway if I let them.
I need to leave home. I need to go home. Then I need to rediscover that Home is inside myself, and that inside encompasses the whole world. Even the fanatics I guess.