John T. Anderson
4A2 Ridgeview Terrace, Apt 5B
Barlamon, (Hapdorn Province) 5B003
6 Fifthmonth 17829
Well, it has been about a week since Melissa left here in a hurry for Halakan. I really envy her. Halakan is the oldest country on Homeland, and I hear that they have some extremely impressive museums. I’d really like to go to Fomin on vacation, but I’ve been very busy right here.
Incidentally, Lanni gave me a copy of some of Melissa’s letters to you. They are very touching, but I think if you read too many of them you might get tooth decay. (No offense; Melissa’s become a good friend.)
The trees are gone—the ones that were marked with the yellow ribbons, the ones that I wrote to you before. They had to be removed because the were diseased. The government office vanished on time as promised, and so did the trees.
This was the result:
- The exit driveway is going to be widened to two lanes.
- Because of the impact on the Thorgelfaynese tree census, a grove of saplings is being planted in the back of the building to shelter the recreation area. This will keep the Duchy from falling behind on its treaty obligations. (This treaty exists to guarantee air quality and oxygen production for the atmosphere.)
- There was a study of the wind patterns caused by the removal of the trees and their effect on neighboring buildings, plants, pedestrians and traffic. A decorative wall will be built, with the bricks laid in an open pattern so that the breeze can blow through it. The area, smaller because of the widened driveway, will be lavishly landscaped with vines on the wall and bushes and flowers around it.
This is a very satisfactory solution, so far as I am concerned, but now it turns out it will not affect me much personally! My friend Panu Maksimak and I have decided to buy a house together, so I will be moving out of my apartment pretty soon. We’ve signed the papers on a very nice five hundred twenty-eight year-old two-story house in downtown Hapdorn. It is a detached house, and even though the yard is large enough to landscape, it’s small enough to be easily maintained. The whole house was completely rewired a century ago (so we won’t have too many problems there), but even though it’s relatively recent construction, there will there will be some fixing up to do.
However, this happy state of affairs did not come easily for me.
Panu was my first good friend in Thorgelfayne, and our friendship has grown closer with time. It only took about a year for us to realize that we could live a lot better if we pooled our resources and bought a house in town.
So we set out to find one. Every Seventhday morning, Panu would come to visit, equipped with the real estate section of the Hapdorn Daily News. We’d spread it out all over my living room floor and search out the right one: this one’s too small, this one’s too expensive; this one’s too far from the University where I work or too far from the observatory where Panu works. We spent two of the three days of each weekend pouring over the newspaper on Seventhday and then looking at houses on Eighthday. Then we’d have to make an offer, fill out forms—you know the rigmarole.
Finally, we found one that we both liked and could afford, and the seller accepted our offer. But we did not get the first house we wanted because I mishandled the situation. I was overwhelmed by it all, and in a fit of pessimism, I simply failed to deliver my credit report and employment verification on time.
I apologized profusely to Panu; and noble soul that he is, he reassured me and forgave me.
“I am very sorry,” I moaned, “I have to admit that I do this ever so often.” I braced myself for a soulful confession, “I guess I just suffer from low self-esteem.”
I buried my face in my hands. I was truly ashamed of myself.
“Well, I’m not surprised!” came Panu’s inappropriately cheery retort, “Everybody has low self-esteem. Why, I’ve never bought a house before; and believe me, co-owning a residence with an alien from outer space really makes me nervous. You might say that I have ‘low self-esteem’ since I don’t have a very high opinion of my ability to handle this situation. The reason you have low self-esteem right now is clear: it’s the only rational viewpoint you can take!”
Needless to say, this remark was a real eyebrow-raiser. “Just what do you mean by that?”
And I thought all Homelanders were nice!
“I just mean that you have accurately assessed your faults and flaws, and that causes your low opinion of yourself,” he answered. “In other words, it just means that you have an accurate picture of yourself. Of course you don’t have faith in your ability to purchase a house in a new country on a new planet with a member of another sentient species. Anyone who did, would be insane!”
I turned that thought over in my mind.
“Anyway, people who have high opinions of themselves are usually obnoxious bores that no one can stand,” he continued as an afterthought.
I conceded the point, but I asked what he was driving at.
“You are wasting too much time ‘esteeming yourself’ when you’ve got better things to do. You’re too wrapped up in yourself. Just think about other people for a change. Then you’ll have no problem.”
Somehow that should have been an insult, but it didn’t quite feel like one. It turned out he was right! And the second time we got the house!
Fenap θorgelma, Ken-eoma,