Wednesday, July 21, 2010


by Madeleine Kando

The funny thing about traveling is that you see things from a different perspective when you come home. I know my husband will be faithfully waiting there to pick me up at Boston’s Logan Airport to drive me home.

Is he going to look different? Will I look different to him, after our two week separation? It is as if I have borrowed someone else’s glasses for the first few minutes of our reunification. He looks… well, actually he looks terrific. I forgot how handsome he really is, my husband. Yes, I know, he has grey sideburns, his hips aren’t as narrow as they used to be. But I see him now through the eyes of the other tired passengers who watch us embrace, watch us walk off to the parking lot arm in arm, like new-found lovers.

Yes, it’s nice to go away. You come back with a fresh look on things.

When we first step out of the terminal, depending on which season it is, I get hit with a blast of humid, suffocatingly hot air. Either that, or a snow blizzard. I almost prefer the blizzard. It’s so… New England, you know.

In August, the humidity and heat of the summer has sucked every last drop of moisture and life out of the city of Boston. You can hear the heat hum in your ears, like a furnace. The asphalt on the road is melting and it feels like I am walking on marshmallows. When we get to the car, we have to turn on the air-conditioner for a few minutes, before we get in. It would be like walking into an oven.

As we drive home, I am suddenly aware of how abysmal the road conditions are. Only a few hours ago, I was driving on the Dutch highway system on my way to Schiphol airport. Not a single pothole, bump, scratch or blemish. How can Holland afford such a perfect road system?

How can America put up with such a rundown infrastructure? Isn’t America supposedly the richest country in the World?

How important to the health of a nation is its infrastructure? Just as a body’s circulatory system, nervous system and skeletal system is vital to one’s health, so too is the nation’s infrastructure vital to the healthy functioning of society.

I know you can repair tires, you can bury the dead after a bridge falls down, you can privatize law enforcement to replace a police force. If you have a car you can drive to the nearest forest instead of the park so that your dog can poo. But is that a good way to live?

These are the thoughts that race through my head as we drive home, trying to avoid bumps and unrepaired cracks. But, as usual, after a few days, I look at things with resignation and apathy. Gone are the borrowed glasses.

It’s sad to admit that I look forward to my next trip to Holland just so I can enjoy roads without potholes. So I don’t hold my breath every time I have to cross a bridge. Still, a little voice in me always asks the same question as I read about our activities in far-away, exotic places, like Afghanistan and Iraq: ‘Why aren’t we taking care of our own backyard instead?’ leave comment here