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Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 28, 2012 by · No comments

Zlatko Anguelov


When the day is dull and boring, like today, I tend to imagine past travels or dwell on expectations for the future. The immediate expectation is the arrival of another part of our big family, from Milwaukee, WI. As if we’d taken a respite from the holidays, waiting for them to reach our house; the forecast is for snow showers in Wisconsin and Northern Iowa, thus, they will drive tonight instead of tomorrow.

A happy moment: a neighbor brought home-made pasta with meat-balled tomato sauce, and we had a delicious lunch.

Unexpectedly, in the afternoon a friend of mine posted on Facebook terrific pictures from Gibraltar, the Europa Point, and I was reminded, almost obsessed, with the thrill of traveling. Last year, exactly on January 1, we took off from San Sebastian toward Andalusia. We couldn’t reach Gibraltar during our one-week long trip, but we saw Cádiz at least. Southern Spain is gorgeous, and full of history. Gibraltar is a Spanglish place, a remnant of the long history of people merging in places far from their native lands. I would love to see it with my own eyes.

Traveling is a constant thrill. For one, when you live outside of your permanent residence, you are spared the duties of the house ownership. (I cannot say outside of home, because home for me is not a single place anymore.) Your senses are immersed in new places, new colors and smells, new architectural forms, new food, new encounters with old friends, new newness all the time, and you are in a constant state of anticipation of more of the variances of people’s lives.

We will be going to Aruba next week, and the image of the palm trees incessantly dancing on the ocean breeze excites me already. Once I saw the palm trees about ten years ago, they turned into being my favorite tree. We will be moving to England next summer, and already the image of the rainy lush island brings another type of excitement. It is the excitement that we will be coming back (or close) to Europe. We will be closer to our old friends. We will be able to easily go to Spain, visit San Sebastian, by far the most comfortable city I have lived in so far, travel across Western Europe, and enjoy life on the old continent – a life that is quite different from the American one.

We are going to be missing a lot of things American, to be sure. Friends! These will make us visit back. Efficiency! Irreplaceable, alas. Convenience! Impossible to match anywhere in the world, except perhaps in Japan. The feel of vast, endless space, including the spacious homes! A lost comfort.

We belong to America, however, and we own its freedom and its righteousness. We carry American passports and I cannot imagine us seizing to be part of its political body at any moment in the future. America is the country that made us free, in the full, responsible sense of the word. To me, that means it taught us to accept the complexity of the world, that the world is a place where give-and-take is the human rule and justice is the rule of law. Both co-exist in a country with institutions built to protect civil liberties and the dignity of the individual.

In this winter night, I again think – feel the presence – of my friends. I anticipate my future travels. And I’m full of gratitude to … well, does it really matter to whom or to what? Gratitude is, indeed, an overwhelming emotion springing from a life lived in full speed. In such a life you have struggled to shrug off the suffering, the destruction, the limitations, the stupidity, the poverty – and you remember those struggles as they always live scars – and you are grateful that you can enjoy love, wisdom, forgiveness, and beauty.

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