I feel like I need to write this down. I haven't felt a particular need to write anything else down here in a long while, and at points I've thought of simply retiring from blogging altogether. But this I need to write down.
It's clear I'm leaving Boston for Seattle within a year or two. Dead clear. And I hate it, I hate the fact that I worked so long to get back to a place that I thought (and still think) will survive apocalypse and, even better, Republicanism. So the reason I need to write this down is so that if I regret this decision later, as I do, that it's written out exactly why it is that I'm making the jump.
It's because I'm afraid of 2012. Or, more specifically, what 2012 will do to 2013. I'm more specifically afraid of the 2012 election.
Let's push the worst case scenario at the moment that still keeps the US as a democracy (which I think is a reasonable assumption). The Republicans win fairly big in 2012. People have short memories, the economy's still pretty much in the tank, everything the Republicans say still sound pretty appealing, particularly because they're repeated so often. So, sure, give it back to them, why not, the Democrats seem to not be doing anything important.
I've been reading Molly Ivins' Bill of Wrongs
, and it starts to occur to me that really there aren't any standards anymore. Free speech has been a polite illusion for a long time. The advent of the taser (and the other more creative methods for countering those G20 protests) are making protest increasingly difficult - and even then, the media has no interest in covering it, when the Tea Party is so much more conveniently interesting. The massive Iraq War protests aren't that far behind us. No one has really truly condemned the torture or the torturers. The wiretapping wasn't illegal, Guantanamo still exists, etc. etc. None of the advances of the Bush II era have really been significantly rolled back as far as I can tell, outside of something of a drawdown in Iraq. Stopped, perhaps. Paused.
So what's stopping anyone from using all these lovely tools again? Of going to war with Iran or whomever? Of calling Americans terrorists and stirring the fear pot yet again? When do people start becoming enemies of the state?
And yet here on the other end of the coin we're already, in 2010, being led by people who stare coldly at 10 percent unemployment, shrug, and refuse to extend any helping hand. This is at a "good time" in American governance. This is when we're supposed to be led by the political party that gives a shit about the poor. I am well aware of the obstructionism, but shit isn't happening. And I can't reasonably expect it will get better.
I've already seen what happens when you get older in the modern American workforce. My father was fired 2 years from a full pension, just as his company did to every other worker who reached the same level (and wasn't French). And yes, he sued, but he got a settlement, not the same thing at all. And people refused to hire him for more than a year. And this was during the "good times". Or at least 2006. And during the beginning throes of this chaos, his company cut his wages 10% and gave their CEOs a 5% raise. I get the feeling all around that this is the new normal.
So, I should expect a few things. 1) That pretty much I'm going to have to settle in one place and stick around pretty much permanently. 2) That I can't expect government to extend a helping hand if something goes wrong. 3) That I can and will be laid off arbitrarily, as "for cause" is something of a laughable thing. 4) That my salary is never going to be like my parents', and likewise my savings are probably not going to be either.
This isn't even going into predictions of apocalypse. I don't see apocalypse happening, anyway. I look at the Roman Empire and see 300, 400 years of slow descent until collapse. I have to imagine that the United States will keep going, in some fashion, for at least another hundred. Perhaps the time-acceleration of the Internet Age will reduce this. Perhaps we'll see the singularity. I don't honestly know. (If we do see the singularity, I suspect it will be for the rich only, ne?)
So, either I keep myself in Boston in The One Stable Job With Benefits Left, or I go to live with my friends and my loves and try to enjoy whatever time I can on this Earth. My dad made that choice decades ago, you know. He admitted to me that he pretty much hates everyone now and doesn't want to speak with anyone ever again. He told me that the job should go above everything else, but look at what that did to him. He can't even retire at this point, because they can't sell the house. He says that he's afraid of leaving work, because he can't imagine doing anything but smoking pot all day by himself.
No. I was going to do just that, you know, because I frankly didn't think anyone else gave a shit about me and I didn't feel like doing anything in return. Because I was looking for a comfortable existence, not a wonderful one. Something that would allow me a little bit for myself, even if it compromised who I was. That was the mistake I made in 2000, too.
I wanted to be a shaman, you know. I wanted to be a counselor, a helper, That Person. A scientist, a global warming activist, a lawyer, someone who f-ing could make a difference. I gave up when I found that for some I couldn't reach them even if I tried. I couldn't save the world, and I couldn't help the few lives I tried to touch. I made a fetish of giving up. I can't allow myself to make that mistake again. And the best I can hope for is that if things go south, there will be people there to catch me. (And maybe people I can catch in return.) That option has been foreclosed in Boston. So if that's your decision, it has to be mine. And it needs to be made soon, because in January 2013, there might well be a Point of No Return. And I don't want to be stuck in Boston when it happens.
And perhaps, just perhaps, I'll get the only thing I ever really wanted. A family.