I’ll be right back

The voyage makes the crew.Dr Thomas Hargrove was kidnapped by the Columbian rebel group FARC and held for ransom for eleven months. Almost from the moment he was taken, a group of people — his wife, his brother, his neighbor, his children, his neighbor’s children — galvanized around his rescue. Twice, ransom sums were raised and rendered. One day, for no clear reason, the FARC released him. He walked home to Calli. He walked in on his wife, who was on the phone with his brother. Walked in on the neighbor who was firing up the barbecue to cook some t-bone steaks she’d bought and put away for him — not because she expected him there, but because the ritual of preparing a meal for him consoled her.

Community is as much about who is excluded as it is about who is included.What he discovers: this team, this cell of negotiators who had convened to get him out, has never involved him directly. He learns that simply being the point of something doesn’t make you part of it. His therapist explains to him: they are like a platoon that has been through a battle on your behalf. There is a bond, but it doesn’t include you.

There's another way to look at it, you know.Further: What if the family had a friend, long lost to other pursuits, who turns up at a mid-level state department post — that is, some rank high enough to be proof against budget fluctuations, but not so high as to be vulnerable to a change in administrations — the bureaucratic tier, in other words, that endures long enough, develops relationships deep enough and wide enough to really Get Things Done. And what if this functionary reconnects with the family of the kidnapped man over this calamity? And say he also comes up against the same impression about community and connection, but from a different angle. It will be his experience that people always only talk together in the present. He will observe that even when they talk together about a shared past, it is not an old bond reviving, but something new being created — with odds no greater than new ones of establishing itself and persisting.

(Is that true, though?)

(It doesn’t have to be True; it just has to be true-in-this-case.)

2 thoughts on “I’ll be right back

  1. That is some heavy ass shit there vermonter!! It really is a potent symbol for most of us thinking beings. Abject loneliness indeed. To be simultaneously absent and present. Like Schrödinger’s cat. Present in one’s absence, and absent in one’s presence. Please stop me now …


  2. Huh? sounds like a neat story… So. We can rally about something that is not really the point? or something like that? I think it is cool that the neighbor was cooking him dinner but never expected him there to eat it and then he shows up. Must have been the best kind of shock.

    hi! and thanks for your thoughts – what strikes me here is the let down of being shut away, a captive, and returning, to find the people you are closest to have been fused into a team dedicated to your return, but that you are not (cannot be) part of that team — that’s what i meant by being the point of something but not really part of it. i think there is a really abject loneliness about that — something really extreme and striking.


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