Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting Away From It All

Diane and I spent Christmas and New Year's in Europe, specifically, in the Netherlands. For eighteen days we did not have to listen to pundits talking about, reporters reporting about, or candidates complaining about Donald Trump. It was heaven. It reminded me that, as critical as the choice of America's next political leader is, there are more important things by far: family trumps Trump. That being said, the question we were asked most often by our Dutch relatives was, “Is Trump for real?” Still, on balance, the majority of our time away from the politics of the United States, the circus, really, was filled with revelations, hugs and good food that had nothing to do with big tents and blow-hards. It was a voyage of discovery. I learned things about my sister I did not know. I learned about feelings inside me I thought I had suppressed. I learned once again – a review course – that people actually, and surprisingly, love me very much, though I did not learn or figure out quite why. I learned about modern realism in art. I watched David Bowie's “Lazarus” video, then learned that he had died. I learned that conservatism and reactionary politics are not the same thing but could easily be mistaken for interchangeable. It is a matter of image. The Dutch have their own right-wing sociopath in Geert Wilders, whose views sound an awful lot like the Donald's, and who endorses Trump's candidacy. You just can't get away from it. But you can, for a while. In a theater in Houten, we were able to travel to a galaxy far, far away with 3D specs and a nice drink in hand. It was the most comfortable wild ride I ever experienced I discovered, in another corner of the world but still in Holland, a really good bear called “Forbidden Fruit.” Belgian White. We even got to Paris this trip. Well, the airport. Past all the shops, running to catch our connection. In all, the main thing I learned and always try to remember is this: one on one, people are usually pretty damned nice, even in uniform, even in France.

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