“Geese from Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson Pages: 4 (1390 words) Published: November 24, 2008
“Travel is a Fool’s Paradise” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Traveling is a rite of passage for some younger people. Many consider these times rewarding to the psyche of a young adult, as experiences in other lands broaden their senses. College students embark on sabbaticals to spend time in the real world. Others temporarily replant themselves, to experience other places, cultures, and languages, and in doing so to find out more about themselves. And there are that select few who use relocation as a form of escape from their tumultuous lives, because as they say, “the grass is always greener…” Some never return home. Whatever your reason for these journeys, it should be understood that going outside one’s comfort zone can test your mettle, and good judgement and wit are crucial in surviving in a foreign land, where language, culture, and even racism are an issue. A few wrong steps and you may find yourself a few shingles short of a roof over your head. It is that last category of drifters who define “Geese,” where Dina and four other ex-patriots find themselves sharing a one room flat in Japan. These misfortunate individuals are escaping from themselves, and through misplaced pride, ill preparation, and execution find themselves on the brink of self-annihilation, finally regressing into their own futileness.

The story begins with Dina, a girl from a hardscrabble section of Baltimore with “boarded-up row houses the city had promised to renovate,” (210) relating to her reasons for moving to Japan. Aside from high yield economic opportunities that don’t exist in her neighborhood, she pines for a “loveliness” that Japan will offer through its ceremonious bowing, sashimi delicacies, calligraphy, and architecture. (211) Really what she is seeking is a respite from her former environment, where the creed is “Never advertise your poverty. Dress immaculately. Always smell good, not just clean.” (224) Once in Japan Dina soon finds herself in a community of people, also...
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