It’s nice being away for all the obvious reasons. A change in routine. An absence of deadlines and demands. New vistas. New foods. New experiences. But there was another unforeseen bonus these past weeks, in being a tourist in a hotel, living the vagabond life out of a suitcase. With rare exception, nothing on television was in English. Nightly, pressing the clicker, seeking a familiar language, we heard Spanish. Portuguese. Chinese. German. French. Russian… And yet, deprived of our lingua familia, it turned out not to be so bad.
With no English papers in the lobbies nor at news-stands. With no NBC or CNN or Fox or BBC we were blissfully detached from all the goings on back home. The disconnect was a joyous blessing. An unexpected treat. We were spared the rancor and the excruciating pain of D.C. politics. It was delightful and sadly nostalgic for those of us with long memories of better days when there were differences but respect. Passion but civility. Can’t remember the players, but one was a Democrat and the other a Republican. On the Senate floor they debated issues fiercely. It was hardscrabble from nine to five. Pounding gavels and calls to order. Sarcasm flung from one side of the aisle to the other. But when the five o’clock whistle blew, gloves came off and these antagonists went to a local watering hole to hoist a few while their wives schmoozed over Cosmos, planning a dinner party.
Today, there is no rhetorical shut down at days end. The hostility persists. The battleground is everywhere. At restaurants. At little league games. At super market check-out lines. Swords are always at the ready. We live in exhausting, ugly times and getting far away is necessary to preserve one’s equilibrium and sanity. So now we’re back. Unpacked. Laundry all done. Souvenirs organized and gifts distributed. I once again have the remote in my hand with hundreds of stations to choose from. I think, perhaps, I’ll start watching Telemundo. I won’t understand anything but at least I will be at peace.