Manizales del Alma
As this cycle around the sun approaches its apex (of course, something similar happens every day, every hour and every minute) an incoherent mix of conflicting emotions assails me. Not really abnormal per se, just perhaps a bit more intense than usual.
It’s been a brutal year civically and politically in the United States. All civility has been seemingly discarded, tolerance gone, hyperbole, hypocrisy and dishonesty reigning. Much more so than usually, or perhaps just more visibly. It’s been a disappointing year in Colombia too. The peace so many longed for, for so long, has been virtually attained but once within reach, is being seemingly discarded by too many. How stupid is that? Paradise within reach but the “Lords of War” again ascendant, or seemingly so. Unfortunately, as usual. The media, seemingly as untrustworthy as it’s ever been, makes it as hard to tell what the truth is in Colombia as it is in the United States, as it is in Europe.
But that’s all on the macro level.
On the micro level where individuals interact quotidianly things seem very different and hope survives. It’s been a year of many new friendships, of undeserved recognition of which I try to make myself worthy. My children and two granddaughters are far away but doing well, a new grandchild on the way. My Citadel and EMA classmates seem as special and unique as ever, tolerant in our diversity, examples for all who know them, a high standard to try and live up to. I found a softball group in Manizales and two teams now exist where formerly there were none, more may be on the way, trivial but important, at least to me. I recall my old softball buddies in the “States” and wonder how they are. Most players on my current team are young black men from the coast, many with families, young men I can help mentor to bring out the best in them, helping develop wise and ethical leaders, something always in such short demand. And I now have pretty steady tennis buddies here, most American expats. Sports have been good to me in many, many ways, teaching me values I treasure as well as a few skills, keeping me healthier than the years I’ve lived would normally account for.
“Expat”, what a complex concept for me, first a Colombian expat in the United States then a United States expat in Colombia. I’ve lived in so many places I grew to love and call home that now, wherever I am there are too many other places for which I yearn, New York and Charleston, Fort Lauderdale and Ocala, Charlotte and Hendersonville, even the various Miamis. So many people I miss so profoundly, something that I expect ought never to change; the consequence of having to confess, as Pablo Neruda did long ago, that I have lived a very full life.
A melancholy day as so often happens in Decembers, the start of several weeks of reflections and regrets but also of joyful memories and gratitude; even space for a platitude or ten.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.