Thursday, January 22, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 99:
pieces of home

innybidy who has ever tuck out frum his home cuntry to live sumwhars else, even fer a lil while, is almos bound to be larnin sum thangs ye woodnt eggspeck. fer instunts, i had been readin books by folk frum europe lack crazy, flossofy n german literchur in particlar. frum all that readin i gut this noshun in my hed that i had more in common with folk in europe than in amurka. i gut to thankin thay wuz minny a thang bout my own cuntry i dint lack in 1979: (1) disco music, (2) fedrul debt up to a whoppin $845 billyuns, (3) jimmy carters neutron bomb, (4) kramer vs. kramer, (5) crimson tide beatin the vols ever year, (6) gas-guzzlin cars that made folk in germany laff at us n hate us, n most of all, (7) publicans usin the southern stratgy, witch i had voted fer nixon n then wonted to keep on bein a publican but jes couldnt stumach whut ye had to pertend ye bleeved to doot. couldnt vote fer carter nor fer ford neethur, so i gut into a habit of wastin my vote fer a few years, includin wastin it on john anderson in 1980 on a counta seemed lack he wuz thonly one who could see whut our dependents on oil wuz makin us do.

tiz shameful to member, but i reckon i figgerd since i wuz readin folk lack kant n nietzshe n friedrich dürrenmatt n even the bible auf deutsch n listnin to nuthin but mosly german classicull musick, then mayhap i had a europeen sole or mayhap i wuz more a citizen of the worl than of amurka.

it dint take but about two weeks in germany to set me strate on lots of thangs. fer one, everwhar i went, folk knew i wuz amurkin befor i opened my mouth, jes by how i dressed n walked n ackted. n seem lack everbidy had one rong idee or a nuthern bout amurka, witch twuz one thang whenever i wuz crit-sizin it but a verr differnt thang when sumbidy who hadnt never been thar gut into the ack. much as i wonted to thank i wuz more part of worl cultchur or even europeen cultchur, whut i wuz findin out wuz jes how amurkin i really wuz. fack is, i gut to lackin lots of thangs i hadnt hardly noticed bout my cuntry.

fer in stunts, in west germany, far as i could tell, everthang wuz under cuntrol, witch thay wuz this german sayin that went 'ordung muß sein,' witch that means ye gut to have order no matter whut. ye dint have no stray cats nor stray folks nor nuthin lack that. ever inch of ground wuz accounted fer n bein used. thay wuz this joke amungst sum of them german student communists that whenever the revolushun wuz to cum to west germany, when it cum time to storm the hauptbahnhof n take over the trains, everbidy wood buy thar ticket furst.

they wuz happy to have a nashnul po-leece registrayshun of all the folk. ye couldnt be anonymus, no how, no way. everbidy had to be counted n accounted fer. they dint thank nuthin of nobidy havin guns or inny rites to have em. ifn ye read bout sumbidy gittin shot, ye could bet twuz sum amurkin soljer pullin the trigger on a counta dint nobidy else have guns that shot bullets. ifn ye wuz homeless, ye couldnt even find a lonely corner to lie down in, witch thank goodness we wuznt. they wuz no open meadows that wuznt in a park, no forest that dint have concrete paths runnin thru it. even yer graveyards had fences round em n tho they wuz sum of the mos beeyootiful places ye could find, ye had to pass by a guard to git in.

fack is, thay wuznt hardly room a nuff to turn around n after a while, i gut to whar i kindly lacked how emily could make such a disorderly mess of our lil apartment on a counta twuz lack amurka: loose, messy, free. i woodnt add mitt that to her, but twuz sumthin nice bout cummin outta yer perfeck german streets to a place whar ye couldnt see the floor fer discarded cloze n papers n books n ash trays n cigrette butts n yew name it.

corse, whut ye miss bout home is the folks moren mos innythang n twuz way too eggspensive to thank bout makin fone calls. that meant ye wuz at the mercy of the mail.

me n emily gut to whar we woodnt leave out fer skool of a mornin till the mail had dun cum. ifn thay wuznt nuthin in it frum home, we wuz a lil deepressed all day. as ye mite know, they gut way too minny holidays in west germany n we couldnt hardly figger when one wuz a cummin up agin, so thay wuz days when we wuz sad that it jes dint cum n we dint know why till twuz almos too late to go out.

after i gut out of the hospitull, thay wuz a slew of letters fer me. turnt out that the verr day i went in, my bruther eli tride to kill hisself. emily dint wonta git me upset while i wuz in the hospitull, so she kep em fer me to read whenever i cum out. turnt out the v-a had give eli his munthly medicine in a liquid form in sted of the usual lil bottles of pills. that meant twernt much of a trick to drank up the hole munths supply all at one time, n thats jes whut he dun. furst letter sed he wuz in a coma n secunt one splained how he wuz awake but wuznt able to do nuthin n the docters had dun tole mama she wuz a'gonna half to ackcept that her sun wood be lack a vegtabull fer the res of his life.

lord knows i wonted to call home n find out more, but whut could i say? we couldnt pay fer no fone call frum west germany n ifn we could, i reckond all we wood git is the sound of mama a'crine on the fone. so i went thru feelin verr deepressed n guilty fer sum reason on a counta i knew part of whut made eli sad wuz how he wood compar his life with mine n the hole fambly wuz eggcited bout me bein in europe n all. tiz sumthin ye live with all the time ifn ye have a sick siblin lack i eli.

in a few daze we gut a nuther letter n mama rote bout how the docters sed twuznt possbull n mayhap twuz a murkle, but eli wuz cummin back, furst barely able to talk n then havin no memry but barely able to stop talkin n then gittin his memries back till he tole em he wonted to go home. so they let him go.

in the same mail with that letter wuz a letter frum alfred a. knopf along with the manuscript fer crap notes that i sent em. it had been rejeckted n that meant i felt lack i had been rejeckted.

twuz a moment whar i wunderd whut i wuz a'doin with my life. i dint much lack the classes i wuz takin. dint much lack the germans, ceptin fer frieda muller n her sister erika, dint much lack bein stuck in such a cold n awful place. i gut to whar i couldnt hardly sleep n one evenin i tole emily i had to take a walk.

i gut up n put on plenty of cloze on a counta twuz gittin on tords october n the weather wuz turnin verr cold. i walked all the way to sachsenhausen n back. i thought bout how i wuz readin books bout the novel on a counta thats whut emily wuz a'studyin n whut i wonted to do. i had been readin one book of essays colleckted by malcolm bradbury bout the modern british novel n fer sum reason it gut me riled up. seemed lack ever essay in that book wuz arguin that yer novel only matterd ifn twuz a'doin the novel in a new way. twuz as if ritin a novel the ole fashund way, with a good plot n strateford narrativ wuznt good a nuff. ye had to do thangs lack git yer novel printed as loose sheets n put all in a box n ast folks to shuffle em befor they read em.

thang wuz, i had cum to west germany to study flossofy, but thonly reason i wuz wontin to study flossofy wuz so i wood be able to rite better. twuznt no way to make a livin n i knew i had to find a compromize with life sos i could keep gittin the means to pay fer food n shelter n everthang else ye need to keep the body n sole glued together. so that meant gittin a job that wood pay a nuff, witch twernt sumthin i wood git with flossofy. sides that, now that i had dun read bout elis trubles, seem lack i wonted to git back home moren innythang only thay wuznt no turnin back, witch that mean finishin the year furst.

but when i gut to cunsidderin goin back home, the questchun cum up of whut wuz i a'gone do to pay the bills? emily wuz halfway thru her masters, so we had to git back to utk to let her finish, witch that wood take a year. i dint wonta wurk with no computers no more n fack wuz, i dint know how to do much else to make money. i wonted to rite, but ye cant plan on makin money thataway.

so i figgerd i wood go fer a masters my ownself, only i wood quit goin after flossofy n git to studyin literchur. i dint tell emily rite away on a counta i figgerd she wood wonta go home that mint. i kep goin to my classes n gittin reddy to give a presentayshun to that linguistisch und philisophie class. but my hart wernt in it.

bout a week later, i gut a letter frum eli his ownself. he splained how he had figgerd twuz time to die but god musta had sumthin else fer him to do. turnt out he had been in the hospitull the same 12 days i wuz in, witch he figgerd he wuz a'goin to the europe of the sole while i wuz visitin the europe of the earth, that he wuz studyin the spirtchul worl n i wuz a'studyin the physcull. how i wished i could be home n see him agin.

fack wuz, i wished i could be home, period, but i wuz too stubburn to add mitt it. so i rote a bunch of letters to everbidy i could thank of, even weird walter, in hopes that sumbidy wood send sum back. emily dun the same. n we waited on the mail everday, no matter whut, on a counta them letters wuz pieces of home, thonly thangs that fit the empty in our harts.

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