Adieu and not Au Revoir
My companion's sister is moving to France today. I don't know if anyone is still talking about moving abroad after the 2004 election, but if anyone else is actually doing it, they should be starting to do it about now. Pulling up all roots takes time, and that is exactly what Sister Claus is doing. Leaving never to return, for she will have no reason to. It is a separation from Mrs. Claus that will last until death, I strongly suspect, and so does she, which is why she has been crying her eyes out the past several days.
Sister Claus is actually a French citizen, and so accentlessly French fluent (though she was born in Philadelphia), that she will merge tracelessly into the Southern France where she is settling. Long ago she married a French lawyer, who became an American citizen in order to vote and make a commitment to his adopted country. France permits dual citizenship and the spouse of a French citizen also becomes one.
Sister Claus and her husband ran a small independent business in Los Angeles on the fringes of the entertainment industry. She liked to describe it as "bottom feeding". Over the past four years of recession and "recovery" their business has been steadily contracting. So they put their modest California bungalow up for sale at an enormous profit.
With this, even despite the declining dollar, they were able to buy a lovely Victorian townhouse in a small town in Cathar country. There is a castle on the local hill, and, of course, there is the grand tradition of French country good living. They also made enough money out of the deal to have plenty of seed capital to start a legal business (her husband is still barred over there).
In addition, they, like so many, have recoiled in disgust at a bare majority of voters who have refused to even acknowledge the costs (let alone weigh them) of the last four years on World cooperation, American liberty, and American prosperity and well-being. The force of the "free market" has combined with that disgust (as well as a certain degree of Francophobe hostility which came their way) to take Sister Claus and her husband away for good.
Mrs. Claus and I will remain. Mrs. Claus is totally disabled by rheumatoid arthritis. I am partially disabled by bi-polar disorder, the incredibly strong drugs needed to keep it at bay, and other contributing ills. We are trapped in America, even though I am still capable of 30 hours a week of part-time work, at, or barely above, minimum wage. Yes, trapped. I have only actually found 8-16 hours part-time, and even that much cut my Food Stamps by 2/3's in the last evaluation.
Everywhere we will live until we will die is a ghetto with no way out, save in the virtual world here--which is why we do without things in order to be on the Internet, for those of you who ask. The world outside our door is not nearly as nice a place as yours. Those with "full-time employment" simply do not understand.
There is no future for us but steadily increasing penury and contracting access to medical care as our needs for it expand. I'm not going to bore you with the facts and figures of what the proposed changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will do to us, but it's not pretty. You can read them elsewhere if you care.
Do you care? Honestly?
Mrs. Claus' mother, also in California, doesn't get it either. This is partially excused by advancing age and occasional TIA's. She and her husband voted for George Bush, "So the terrorists wouldn't bomb Hemet." And she often asks if we will ever be coming out to visit her. No amount of explaining by either Mrs. Claus or Sister Claus will penetrate the denial that, except for emotionally difficult phone calls, none of them will ever see or hear each other again, even to put flowers on a grave where they lie. All of them will die without blood family and alone save for spouse or companion, and that only if they are lucky. As will I.
Mrs. Claus is unaccustomed to not speaking her mind, sometimes in quite salty language, stemming, she tells me, from the years she dated a Philadelphia cop. So the restraint necessary when her mother is on the phone is galling, and usually provokes a further round of tears when she hangs up--the pressures of both love and anger are so great. She can be more frank to Sister Claus--but there love and anger are complemented by envy.
Now, go on, don't tell me that even you don't envy Sister Claus a little bit, what with that French fluency and all that good living.
Mrs. Claus spends many of her waking hours insulting Republicans, Evangelical Christians, and smarmy newscasters on the television, sometimes quite loudly. She would be doing what I am doing to relieve her feelings, but the pain of degenerative arthritis leaves her little opportunity to use the keyboard regularly. Sometimes even moving the mouse for any length of time is too much.
Often the oral ranting of nearly homicidal anger in Mrs. Claus becomes a burden for me. And though I try not to reject her, or hurt her, in consequence, I don't always succeed. I cannot carry my political and personal grudges 24/7, and, as I have remarked before, my extensive religious commitments (Mrs. Claus is also a Buddhist, but for less time, and has made fewer vows), constrain me from looking at even the worst of my adversaries as anything less than a human being destined to inevitable suffering because of their confusion.
But if anyone wants to know why so many people on blogs like Daily Kos can carry hatred and rage 24/7 they need look no further than the paragraphs above. Nobody hates totally without reasons.
Goodbye Sister Claus, whom I never met save for brief conversations on the phone. Hope you enjoy France from now until the end of your days.