Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back "Home"

I was once in the audience when Jesse Jackson came campaigning. A good number in the audience were college students from far and wide, and Jackson had the task of not only getting them locally registered to vote, but also to come out in person to the mid-winter caucus. He tried to get the students to think of themselves as "locals" by saying something like "where you put your head the last three nights - That's home!" The audience laughed, but I thought he had made a good point. In fact, it made me a bit irritated when people I knew, mostly from church, who were local homeowners and voters would talk of "going home", usually to a state a thousand or more miles away.
We've just marked three years in California. It's so vast and complex that we'll never "get" it all, but we have no plans to leave. Having said all that, it's not possible to disassociate completely from the place that was our home for 30 plus years - Iowa. And anyone paying attention has noticed that the good folks of Iowa not only took a hammering in winter, but have lately also suffered from floods far beyond anything they've had in memory.
I suppose it will take them years to sort out and calculate all the damage to roads, homes, bridges, crops, pastures, city buildings, civic records and another thousand ways to collectively and individually suffer. And, to a lesser extent, some businesses like carpet cleaners and auto detailers will be in a position to reap a gigantic windfall from this disaster. The president went there, and has plans to go back, so the political angle will certainly be exploited if possible.
A thousand city blocks were submerged, with the city offices of Cedar Rapids among the first to go, situated as they are on an Island in the Cedar River. I saw it all like most of you - from
media like CNN and the BBC. I had been in Cedar Rapids during the '93 flood, but as one of our daughters, a sandbagging veteran, put it, "THIS flood kicks that other flood's butt!"
To tell the truth, if I were picking disasters, floods would be preferable to drought, which I also experienced, in 1988, when every lawn turned brown, the heat made tennis all but impossible, and crops simply failed. The earthquakes I've felt here have been more like those motel
vibrating beds than the disaster that everyone forecasts, though I know that could change.
Regardless, it's all 2nd hand now. They need me out of the way of relief and cleanup, and so I'm reduced to gawking like everyone else. Who was that guy who said "You can't go home again"? I guess he had a pretty good point, too.


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