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Ruby Slippers and Dreams That Missed

Posted by MrNatch3L on Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ruby Slippers Well, I done clicked my heels 3 times and repeated Dorothy's "no place like home" over and over, and here I am back among kith and kin in dark dank St. Petersburg after 3 months in exile, just in time for the holidays. About dank dark St. Petersburg, the immortal words of Bugs Bunny come to mind: "This is my home (such as it is)." About the holidays, well, this year it's going to be a case of "such as they are".

My recent exile in France (see previous blog) was quite an experience... some a bit harrowing, some so valuable as to maybe make the harrowing part worth it. Since I left back in mind-September, the rot in the world economy finally got the better of everything, I lost half my job (an vast improvement on past downturns, when I lost my whole job - life is improving), my native country had a historic presidential election (the first one in which I biked 2.5 kilometers thru sheep and cow pastures to mail a ballot from a tiny village post office in central France), I passed another birthday, the wild geese flew south... but perhaps the most important thing for me was that I was able to make peace with a very bitter disappointment.

How often in life do you get to go back to the scene of a major upheaval in your life and come back realizing that, despite what you felt at the time, everything has in fact worked out for the best? That's what happened in this case. Through something of a miracle, I was able to spend 3 months in the house that I had once dreamed of making home. When I was forced to sell it after yet another layoff (kids - become programmers, not technical writers - the writers are the first thing they get rid of when the wind blows the wrong way), it was one of the bitterest disappointments of my life. And I had never entirely been able to shed all of the bitterness of that not working out despite years of hard work giving my best, and treading conservatively with the finances. Well, I spent 3 months there, walking and biking through some of the nicest country I know of, breathing the pristine air, popping in to the bakery, general store, and the tiny bar of the nearest village (when the need for espresso became overpowering), and watching the change of seasons. In the end, not without a degree of wistfulness to be sure, I understood that had the place worked out, it would have amounted to running away and immersing myself in isolation and burying myself away from people. The place is so remote that integrating into any kind of community would be very difficult, and really, I can see now, it would not have been the right thing do do. We would probably have ended up selling anyway, and possibly not doing so well on the sale. It's quite clear that things actually did work out for the best despite some interim stress. I find now that I am truly able to leave all bitterness behind, and that gives me more with which to face whatever comes next.

Which by the looks of things ain't gonna be exactly a picnic! Whatever happens in 2009, folks, just remember that banjo will get you thru times of no money better than money will get you thru times of no banjo.

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