[excerpt of novel i wrote as series of spontaneous posts at twitter over several months in 2009.]
New project yesterday: a small drywall patch in a house over in Tangletown. I think the homeowners were Jewish. There was a plastic bowl on the front porch–must’ve been a water bowl for a cat–that had a Star of David. Also something about the guy, Frank. He wanted to hang upstairs while I was up on the ladder tearing out the drywall. A lot of guys do this actually. Usually they’re tinkerers, amateur carpenters. Or they’re just interested in how their house is built. But Frank was different: he just seemed to want to talk to somebody. He had an office downstairs. Never asked him what he did. I was busy running up and down getting more tools. There were pictures up and down the stairway, those kind where you pay some pro to pose you and your family doing all different things. We did one like that when I was 13. Right after my Bar Mitzvah. I remember the photographer asked us to bring our basketballs, bats. Frank said they had three kids, 4, 2, and 10 months. But all of them were out. Preschool, daycare. In the stroller with mom. A rain-snow mix was coming down outside. Each time I came in I’d wipe my boots on the doormat. The patch was up in the baby’s bedroom. There was a crib in there. I covered it in a plastic sheet so it didn’t get dusty. Later I finished and came downstairs. The mom had come home. She was short and heavy. She looked away, wouldn’t meet my eyes. Frank was different now too. Cooler. They had something cooking on the stove. I got out of there.
Got interviewed at The Accidental Expats. Here was one of the questions / answers:
Can you describe the process behind deciding to travel/ become an expat?
As far as traveling, for me it’s never a rational process. I’m not even the biggest fan of “traveling,” per se, it’s really a form of suffering. I just like exploring new terrain (and the culture, cuisine, music, language that reflects it), especially in the Americas. For the most part I’ve never had enough money to travel in any other way besides total dirt-bagging along coastal areas in Latin America where it’s uber cheap and I can camp out and surf.
I never thought of “becoming an expat” in those explicit terms and still don’t; for me I think of it as just moving to Argentina. This was definitely a conscious and rational decision though, something that my wife and I felt like was a good plan for raising our family.We recognized certain elements of this place when we visited for the first time in 2005. Although there’s a great little town and a slowly developing tourist infrastructure, it has a very strong agrarian economy (it’s the center of fine fruit production in all of Argentina). This means that the place itself, what makes it unique, its land usage and the underlying economic system is all much more sustainable than other places in Argentina (or the US for that matter).
We also recognized an unusually well-educated population exists here, a result of waves of middle class urbanites who came from Buenos Aires during the 70’s. finally, we recognized that this is a place where we could raise our daughter very freely and in a culture where we both feel very at ease.
So all of this said, it was a very rational, thought-at process as far as deciding to move here, but it’s worth noting that the original visit here seemed just like a total random flow. Still, we felt so strongly about the place that when we first saw it in 2005 we bought a small plot of land here with the intention of coming back one day and building a cabin. That’s our goal over the next year.
Trisha Miller over at Travel Writers’ Exchange interviewed me earlier this week for this podcast.