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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Home, Home on the.....

range, the plains, the mountain, the desert.

It's time to stay home for awhile. Or at least until Friday.

The past several weeks have been filled with travel. Long road trips. Three trips between Denver and Minneapolis. Quick flights. Minneapolis, Denver. Long flights. Denver, Las Vegas, Palm Springs. Short Drives. Aspen.

I've watched World Cup Soccer games in Denver, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Aspen. That's just weird.

It's not normal, not for me. It's just the way things have gone since the early part of May. Graduations. Kaia's move back to the Twin Cities. My brother's 50th birthday in Palm Springs. And a writing week in Aspen.

Not a bad life.

Meanwhile, the Poles have failed to elect a President, Isner and Mahut played the longest tennis match in history, the Polish women are still in it at Wimbledon, albeit not always in Polish 'uniforms,' and two Poles scored the first goals this morning for Germany in their crucial knock-out football match against England.

It's a funny thing. If you want to cheer for the Poles, you have to look for them. They have emigrated and play for Denmark (or Monte Carlo, depending upon if you count official or tax-purposed residence), Canada, Australia, Germany and, rarely, even the country of Poland itself.

So it goes. These days it is not for political purposes but economic ones that Poles continue to leave home. But Caroline Wozniacki is a perfect example of what has drained some of Poland's best talent in the past.

Caroline Wozniacki, she of the beautifully fashionable lavender outfit in last year's U.S. Open, is the daughter of two Polish atheletes. They left Poland in the 1980's, during a still-repressive political era and one in which they had few opportunities to shine. They found their way to Denmark. Where Caroline was born and raised. She speaks Danish and Polish fluently. She plays under a Danish flag, but within her beats a still partly Polish heart. She is so typical.

A diaspora, of sorts, of East Europeans have found their way around the world. Poland, meanwhile, could really use them. But doesn't make it easy for them to thrive. Regressive tax and other business regulations make it difficult for many. The long slog toward privatization of major business lumbers on. And labor / work opportunities are not always plentiful. It can be so difficult to begin one's own business that many give up.

Mind you, it is so much better than it was. But not yet enough.

So, as I'm back at home, suitcases put all the way away in the basement for now -- at least until Friday -- I can see Poles in action for teams around the world.

And, if National Book Award winner Colum McCann, a very cool and brilliant, delightful, humble, classy man, whom I met this week in Aspen, is right, we're all becoming "mongrels," people who belong to many places and nations at once.

Moving back and forth, with dual citizenship and multiple identities, we shrink the world even as we enlarge it. And that's not weird. It's just pretty dang cool. I'm home in so many places. And even when I'm standing in a slow queue to board an airplane, or bumping over the desert mountains (that really ought to become full of wind turbines!)in a tiny plane, or stopping at four a.m. at an Iowa truck stop, or lurching in rush hour traffic on Hwy 82 toward Aspen, or here again "in my room," on a lazy Sunday morning, I think that is amazing. Lucky. Blessed. And very very cool.

"Let the whole world spin."

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