Posted by: patenttranslator | October 25, 2018

So I Did It Again!

So I Did It Again!

After 35 years in America, I decided that it was time to move on, which is to say move again to another country – this time to the country where I was born 66 years ago.

Prior to arriving to San Francisco where I did not know a single soul, I spent over a year working and waiting in West Germany for a US immigrant visa. 37 years ago, it was possible for refugees from communist countries to immigrate to United States, they just had to find a sponsor in United States, apply for a visa and go through the procedure. So I did that because I’ve always wanted to see America and live there, ever since I was a teenager.

The catch was that people like me could never return to their country – not even for a visit – because the communist government considered people who failed to obediently return to their designated spot behind watch towers and barbed wire traitors and criminals.

Like most people, I thought that the iron curtain would still be there for another half a century. I felt that I had to do something about it, so I chose emigration, a fairly common form of protest back then and after a year and a half, I arrived to San Francisco.

America has been good to this immigrant, and I will always be grateful to this huge country that is so different from any other country that I have lived in or been to – a country that still has space for me and took me in when I needed it most, a country where people treated me like everybody else, just like they have been treating for a few centuries millions of other immigrants with a funny accent, a plan and a determination to make it, no matter what. I can only hope this is a tradition that will continue for a few more centuries.

My plan eventually worked and I was able to start a successful, highly specialized, small translation business that still exists, even though I am officially retired now and live on a different continent. Just yesterday I gave a quote for a fairly substantial translation project, and today I was given green light by the customer and started working on it.

After 33 years of a tempestuous and ultimately tenuous marriage, now that the children don’t need us anymore, it was time for me and my wife to get a divorce so that each of us could go their own way. My wife (ex-wife now) will be returning to Japan soon, and I too have returned to where I came from.

After living for many years in a big American house (huge by European standards), with four bathrooms, nine rooms and a big two-car garage, I now live in a small studio and for the first time in almost 30 years, I don’t even have a car. What I now have instead of a car is an ID for seniors, which I can use to ride the buses and trams in the town of České Budějovice for free and buses and trains in the entire country for 75% off the full cost of the bus or train fare.

I remember that in early eighties, buses, trams and cable cars used to cost a nickel for senior citizens in San Francisco. I wonder how much they are now. Given how things have changed after the arrival of high-tech companies a couple of decades to the city that I loved so much for so long, I am sure they are not a nickel anymore.

From what I read in newspapers and see on Internet, the greed of high-tech companies like Apple and Facebook turned San Francisco from one of the most livable cities into one of the most unlivable cities in America. At least I still got to live there when people who were not necessarily rich were able to enjoy the parks, the ocean, the galleries, the many restaurants and the incredible nature surrounding San Francisco.

Do I miss my spacious, comfortable American house in Virginia? You bet I do, a little bit, anyway. Even more than the house I miss the squirrels, birds and turtles who were coming to our backyard looking for food as we were feeding and watching them from our kitchen. My wife picked fitting names for the little creatures: the hungriest squirrel was Chuppee, and the hungriest cardinal was named Pete. Their offspring got their name too, up to third generation. It was a real ZOO there! I also miss the eerily primeval smell of mud and water at the pier not far from our house, the dozens of crabs scampering about on the mud when the tide was going out at an incredible speed, sideways as if they lived in a different world, where directions, dimensions, colors and smells are very different from those that humans know from their world …. which they do.

I even miss the violent subtropical storms with pouring rain, thunder and lightning that sometime knocked out the power for hours so that we had to switch to candles, as if we were suddenly going back in time some two hundred years.

I definitely do not miss the humidity and the hurricanes though, especially the days and weeks when we had to follow the track of a hurricane on TV news, trying to figure out how close to us or how far from us the next hurricane would land. And once a hurricane landed far enough, another one was forming already again somewhere in the ocean.

The house was much too big for us once the children moved out and the dogs died, one after another, which was more than ten years ago …. and I definitely do not miss the bills that come with having a big house like that.

So after 18 years in California and 17 years in Dixie, I am back on may native, South Bohemian soil where I saw the light of this world for the first time.

Things have changed so much during the years when I lived in other countries … Germany, Japan and United States, that I feel very much again like an immigrant in a strange, unfamiliar country.

In other words … the great adventure continues.

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Responses

  1. Dear Mad Patent Translator – Over the years, I have quietly enjoyed reading your blog posts and found the insights you have gained from your experience as a translator (as well as from life in general – as in your current post) interesting and thought-provoking. I hope you will continue to share your experience as an immigrant to your native country – I will be a most willing reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wishing you the very best of luck as you try to adapt to a (in many ways) new country, Steve. Do keep us posted!

    Like

  3. Thank you so much! I will definitely keep you posted via my silly bog!

    Like

  4. So you finally did it, Steve! Congratulations, and all the best in your new (old) home 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really, really enjoy your blog, I bookmark them and save them if I can’t read it straight away. I admire your decision to make the change, back into your country which is a completely new place but still in your heart to bring back the memories of your early years. What else to wish you, but the strength and health to be able to face the change and please keep us updated because you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing all these feelings and thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Alice. I really, really enjoy reading comments like yours!

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  7. Steve: Jan and I are so very sorry that we didn’t have a chance to say goodbye (or bon voyage) before you left. Please know that you have a very special place in our heart (as our very first Czech-English-French-Japanese-speaking friend), and that if you decide to return at any time to Chesapeake, you have a place to stay. As for us, our Central Europe vacation is now in the beginning stages of being planned…geez, do we know anyone in the Czech Republic???

    Stay in touch, my friend…all the best.

    Like

  8. Thank you so much, Chris.

    I miss you guys too! Too bad you were away during the last shindig, it was sad and incomplete without you.

    Now you know that there is one destination that you might want to give a try on your next vacation in Central Europe. It’s like a little Prague without the hordes of tourists, you have a friend there, and it’s also on your way to Austria.

    Hope to see you again some day soon.

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  9. That’s big news, hope settling back has been a smooth process, that takes courage! Once we have lived in different countries there are always bits of us spread around, there are always things we miss… All the very best! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you!

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  11. Ah yes, the bitter-sweet taste of leaving and arriving, missing and appreciating the people and things one left behind, welcoming and appreciating the new faces and things… who could have put it better than you did, Steve? I wish you luck in your new surroundings! CB is a good place, as far as I know it, and with the Senior pass at least you are movable as long as you don’t have a car. Looking forward to meeting the man behind the blog, some day!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Volkmar.

    Even without a car, I am only about two hours away from Prague.

    Like

  13. Please keep up your blog. Enjoy your new/old home.

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  14. Thank you.

    I intend to keep writing, although I might have almost exhausted the topic of the “translation industry.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. *Almost* exhausted?? Have fun in Czech! I bet you’ll pick up the language in no time…

    Like

  16. Kudos to you, Steve, for making such a big move. May your courage be rewarded with great riches of experience, friendship and fulfilment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Rob! These are the real riches indeed.

      Like

  17. V Českých Budějovicích? I knew it, when you wrote about the digital nomads.

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    • Nebo by měl být v Českém Krumlově? We did the same thing!

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  18. Cesky Krumlov is too small and it now has so many tourists that it has been turned into a tourist trap.

    Praha is kind of too big for me now, and it has even more tourists.

    Ceske Budejovice is just the right size from me, it is not very well known so you mostly see locals around you rather than tourists, and it is only 30 minutes by bus from Cesky Krumlov or Austria and 2 hours by bus or train from Praha.

    It’s a good compromise.

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    • Es wäre ganz schön, wenn ich ein Mal nach Českých Budějovic kommen könnte, um mit dir ein oder zwei Gläser echtes Budweiser plus einen Becher “Becher” auch zum Schluss geniessen zu können.

      My eldest daughter, eine Lufthansa-Flugbegleiterin, is getting married in Passau sometime next year.. Let me see, if it would be comfortable and convenient for you when I come over for a glass of real Budweiser and a final Becher Becherovka just like that, when my health allows me?

      I promise you not to land in Police Station during this visit like I did during my first visit in Praha.

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      • I would love that. Please let me know what month you are coming. Passau is right on the Czech border and Ceske Budejovice is not too far.

        I will try my best to explain to Czecg police that you are not a danger to yourself or other people, should it be necessary.

        Best regards, etc.

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      • Steve, thanks. The date is still unsettled. But she will notify me in time. Then, I’ll let you know right away. I know where Budweis is and a ride to your town wouldn’t be hard for me to take.

        Great would be it. When we meet to talk about our random lifes and the random instances on the ways.

        Thank you and keep on healthy!
        WL

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      • OK. Let me know when you know the date.

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