Progress, regress

I went to MSH today and felt much like when I am in Holland: I am from there but have become an alien simply by being absent for a while. I did see some people who I have known for over 20 years and it was nice to see them but everyone is busy (‘very busy’) with stuff I know nothing about. I felt strangely out of place.

The big project that is supposed to give people like me work has still not been awarded and I wonder whether it ever will. I saw some writing on the wall and decided I better re-activate my looking for secure employment elsewhere – it is not an easy decision and somewhat out of my comfort zone, but one has to be practical about such matters and there is a whiff of excitement that comes with the idea.

I had carefully prepared my lunch, a salad from Axel’s lobster (his fifth caught since I got home) plus the beets and a salad made from the red cabbage from our garden but I forgot to put it in the car. So I had to go to Trader Joe and buy myself lunch. In the meantime Axel and Joe ate mine.

While at TJ I bought a sea salt-caramel-dark chocolate bar and ate it on the spot. A colleague at MSH, a no-nonsense public health physician, told me he read of a longitudinal study that concluded that people who ate chocolate everyday were healthier than those who did not. He and I didn’t even ask for the credentials of the researchers and used the study’s conclusion as sufficient justification to go out and buy (then eat) chocolate.

In the afternoon I visited MP and her Afghan son who decided that my farewell speech was appropriately poetic and he concluded I had learned Dari well. This was the second Afghan I impressed with my (written) finals, my farewell speech at work. But when he asked me how to say something in Dari I stumbled – I am quickly getting out of practice in spite of my good intentions.

Pia lives nearby and was my next visit. We talked about futures while sipping tea and watching the still wet but clean kitchen and living room floor dry in the late afternoon sun, very slowly. Some ideas are hatching, slowly, about what comes next. I realize that some things need an incubation period.

In the evening Axel and I, still cleaning out cabinets, re-discovered a portfolio with letters and newspaper cuttings from 1772, 1806 and 1845 from various and sundry people about matters of estate and other serious things – parts of the estate of the Cabots that were left in the house when Axel’s parents bought it in the early 50s after Cabot had left with his Mexican bride for warmer climes.

The 1772 newspaper (the Essex`Gazette) advertised the sale of a ‘29 year old negro’ by a widow in Newbury-port [sic] and the arrival of goods from India. It also had a series of ‘anecdotes’ written by someone who knew King George (the one who went crazy) and his consort, princess Charlotte whom he adored – a difficult piece to read as all the s’es are written as ‘f’s and images from a time very long ago. Amazing to be reading all this now, sitting in a place lit up and connected in ways they couldn’t have dreamed about then.

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