In my last blog, “Vote Early; Vote Often”, I commented on the upcoming elections here in El Salvador and made some comparisons and contrasts to the campaign in progress in a country near you. I do keep up on the news from the States and follow with interest the statements of the hopefuls of the opposition party. But I find my interest waning rapidly.
I’m old enough to realize that the world does turn and changes are inevitable. I can honestly say I accept that you can’t go home again. But the current crop of men and women dedicated to the betterment of their elite class and the demise of the America that I grew up in (or at least naively believed I grew up in) has left me with one hope for my native land. That is that President Obama is reelected in November.
Casting politics temporarily aside as democracy’s bad joke on the Enlightenment philosophers who spawned her, I’d like to reflect upon how easy it is for any expatriate to stop looking backward except for an occasional reflection and to move ahead as a member of his new community.
I have devoted much physical, mental and emotional energy, as well as time on baseball, country music, and education. I have been a Dodgers fan since 1941 when Mickey Owen dropped that third strike against the Yankees in the World Series. I have sung and played the music of my favorite country stars for fun and for money and enjoyed it more than almost anything. I am bonded to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey with a passion and pride that explodes and burns whenever I read about its alumni, famous or not-so-famous, its contributions to science, medicine, communications, entertainment, leadership, and so many other areas, and to its sports successes.
I have a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap and an L.A. Dodgers shirt that sports a “14” for my hero Gil Hodges under my name. I cherish photos I have of yours truly, the Kountry King, with country legends of the past, autographs, and some wonderful memories. Almost all my tee-shirts, running gear, and two caps read “Rutgers” or have the Scarlet Knight logo. I even close the credits on my videos with “El Caballero Escarlata”. Seeing that the Haier Shooting Stars winners at NBA All-Star Weekend included Rutgers basketball great, Cappie Pondexter brought tears of joy to my eyes…as meaningless as that event was to my life.
When I translated my initial emotions to my Spanish-speaking wife and saw the “Yeah, so what!” look on her face, I realized that there’s no way she can relate to some of the things I’ve told her out of my excitement. And when I think about them a second time, they mean less and less to me.
I’m quite aware that my neighbors don’t know who Johnny Cash or Buck Owens were and can’t come any closer to the music I love than Mexican norteño. The kids here occasionally play softball but the outfielders don’t throw the ball to the shortstop, they kick it in. The adults have no clue as to how much education I’ve crammed into my skull nor would they be impressed by the many diplomas I used to hang on my walls back in the U.S. of A. My entire life as an American, other than my coming here as a missionary and staying, is nothing they can relate to from personal experience or from their reading. (Hah! What reading?) What that has taught me is that although I am a product in process of all my past experiences, in and of themselves they are not important to anyone. They have also grown less and less important to me.
So rather than worrying that a Santorum or Gingrich might be elected president in the next election, I laugh at their blather and thank God I’m in El Salvador with its own but much simpler craziness. Nowadays I find I can only name three or four current Dodgers and I don’t bother to check their web page to see how spring training is coming along. After sixty years I don’t care. The Dodgers standings or Kemp’s potential for a triple crown are not important as they once would have been. There’s hardly anyone alive whose music I used to sing. Those that are still capable of holding a microphone have voices barely recognizable without electronic enhancement, so I don’t listen to what they call country music anymore. I only periodically check Rutgers’ women’s basketball rankings. I used to treasure anytime I could watch them play on TV or I’d listen to them on the Internet. Not important anymore.
Life in El Refugio is simple like it used to be in Stelton so many years ago. My church has its little problems that those involved turn into crises at the drop of a rational suggestion. I find myself withdrawing from the debates. If they’re happy stopping progress before it gains momentum, who am I to spoil their brand of conservatism? Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m retired. I can handle being at home with Margarita in the morning, walking the kids to school, reading the news and mail on the computer, writing my blogs and posting my videos on YouTube, enjoying the love and company of my dog, snuggling Adriana on the recliner in front of Nickelodeon, and enjoying Margarita’s cooking. I’m really at home here. And yes, I do wear a sombrero.
As an expatriate, I only get to vote for the president and vice-president, a senator and the congressman from the state and district in which I’m registered. I really have no interest in the latter two only in that they support my choice for president. By 2016, I may not even care who runs for the presidency. With all the material things and services that I lack here, I’m definitely more content now than I’ve ever been. Thank you, Lord!