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Leaving the States ain't as easy as it looks

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Message Mark Drolette
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Passing rice fields and orchards on my way out of Sacramento, I flashed back to five years prior, when my then-wife and I were traveling that same stretch of I-5, right around the time Bush attacked Iraq. Our impossible-to-miss bumper sticker, its big, black letters set against a screaming yellow background, proclaimed: “NO WAR ON IRAQ.”

We were stared at. We were flipped off. Some yahoo leaning out his window spat at us something unintelligible but assuredly inane. (You know, sorta like what you’d hear at a Bush press conference.)

It was a lonely feeling, opposing the war then. One almost had to whisper to ascertain if others likewise reviled the surefire fiasco-in-the-making, since, the week of the invasion, eighty percent of Americans drooled over “shock-and-awe.”

So now, as I head north again, this time to start my new life in Costa Rica (yes, I know Central America’s the other direction; I’m visiting family near Seattle first; sheesh!), two-thirds of Americans say they’re against the war.

But as a famous reptile once said: "So?" Our opinions matter not. Admittedly, ruling class trivialization of the desires of the great unwashed is nothing new. However, whereas Marie Antoinette took an entire four words to sum up her contempt for her benighted subjects, Dick Cheney named that ‘tude in but one.

Give the creature his due. His monosyllabic dismissal of what the American citizenry (now) thinks of his and his imperialism-loving buddies’ stinking war succinctly expresses the neocon mindset. Like any in-charge bunch, they’re wholly impressed with themselves: they’re the ones with the smarts, they’re the ones with the balls, they’re the forward thinkers before whom we rabble should gratefully prostrate ourselves for being saved from silly ideas, like, say, giving peace a chance.

It’s almost too much for me to bear. Sorry: it is too much for me to bear. Thus, my decision in May 2005 to flee and now -- finally -- after a methodical three-year process, I bid good riddance to living under a fascistic government as surreally soulless as it is innately insane.

Friends say, “You must be excited!”

Not really. Tired is more like it. It’s been a lot of grinding. I assume excited comes later.

Really, though, what I mainly am is sad. Sad I felt compelled to leave my native country after it became painfully clear my opinion (read: “vote”) made zero impact on the whole rotten shebang.

What renders me most melancholy, however, arises from the most personal: While I am powerless over what Bushco does, it is entirely my choice to leave those dearest to me. Being the fine stunted adult I am, I find accepting sole responsibility for causing pain (especially mine) rather distasteful.

I am willingly leaving many friends, most of whom I may never see again.

I am deliberately leaving my hometown, a lovely place I like very much.

I am intentionally leaving my girlfriend, a woman with whom I’ve shared a relationship so unexpectedly delicious, I’ve been careful not to ruin it by proposing. (I’ve had three marriages. And three divorces. Conclusion: It was time for Plan B.) She plans to visit me but -- will we drift apart? Living 3,000 miles from one another can have that effect.

An excruciating parting blow came on March 11, when I had to say farewell to my beloved golden retriever, Doctor, forever. He’d fended off skin tumors for years, but they’d finally gone inside and done their hideous work. Now my beautiful boy is going with me to Costa Rica -- in a box. Already, I’m planning a summer return to Sacramento to take his surviving older sister, Carolina, who continues living with my ex, for more walkies.

Some things I can’t say goodbye to for good just yet.

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Mark Drolette is a writer who lives in Sacramento, California.
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