Saturday, April 03, 2010

Oh, to be 20 and full of choices

This from the grandson of European immigrants (my parents) who came to America in search of a better life:

[7:39:15 AM] Aleks: im really happy here. im not the slightest bit home sick or burnt out or anything, its really strange. i love it here so much right now and the ease in which i assimilate around europe i still just want to stay.


And that grandfather’s response when I told him how much Aleks likes living in Prague:

I'm so glad he feels the way he does.  Encourage it.  He's lapping up the whole newness of things.  Prague was at the crossroads of Europe centuries before Columbus was born, he's feeling that in his bones, and it's too exciting to feel homesick.  So great that he's even learning the language.  I have the feeling this trip will be very instrumental in the direction  his life will take.  Try not to talk him into being homesick just to please you.

What Aleks needs is fall in love with a girl who keeps him in Europe for a while. (Just kidding!!)

My parents immigrated to America from Germany in 1953.  At that time America had such promise and Germany was reeling from a lost war and lost identity.  Because of their bold choice to leave everything they knew behind, their children were raised in prosperous country during a time when opportunities were endless and hope and optimism permeated absolutely everyone and everything.  (Hell, we grew up in Berkeley in the 60’s, so hope and optimism lived in our bones!)

But things are different in America now. Instead of the land of opportunity, we live in what seems to be the land of dashed dreams and gridlocked politics.  Without getting all political on you, I’ll just say that I am appalled that it took us so long to pass legislation that takes care of ALL Americans and I’m floored that anyone (anyone!) would vote against a bill that gives every Americans what seems to me to be a simple and fundamental right: health care.  We’ve become greedy and egotistical and grouchy and I think that if we continue down this road (in spite of having a great president who wants to bring about positive change for all but is constantly road-blocked for the sole sake of road-blocking), the glory years for America will be very, very short-lived in historical terms, barely half a century. 

So when Aleks talks of returning to his roots in Europe, he tugs hard on my heart strings because I’d be so sad if he moved so far away -- but at the same time I know that he must feel some of the same feelings that my dad felt in 1953 – the country of my birth is confused and weak; maybe there’s a better future for me somewhere else

Call me unpatriotic (though you’d be wrong), but quite honestly if I were twenty right now, I might very well be thinking the exact same thing.

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Home's Jewels said...

The plus side is that it would give you and Tom an additional excuse to go visit Europe which I know you love (as if you really needed an excuse - lol). I wholeheartedly endorse traveling at a young age. What a great experience and opportunity.

Goofball said...

it's time for him to dream and to pursue his dreams wherever they lead him

Jean said...

Chris and I have often had that same discussion, but he has a great job and I am doing important work with my foundation, and we live in such a beautiful place, that it would be hard to pull up tent stakes and move to Europe. But it still crosses my mind from time to time.

If we are able to adopt Jake, I am concerned about the state of our schools more than anything else. I think he might be better off going to a school in another country where they put more value on education. That saddens me because I was fortunate growing up to have access to great public schools and now it looks like I will have to look to private schools or home schooling to make sure he gets a good education.

AstroYoga said...

Living in Rome for four months as a senior in college changed my life for sure. I never drank coffee or wine, but by the time I got back, I drank both (but learned why Europeans make fun of American coffee). I learned what it was like to shop in a fresh produce market for my produce and how amazing fresh tomatoes are.

What a great opportunity he has!

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