He's a quiet, almost stoic man who has given up much to be here. At one point, many distant years ago, he led a full, almost priveleged life. A prestigous vocation, a family, respect of his peers. When the central government collapsed, the republic was unalterably fractured, and the funding that had been his reality, vanished almost overnight. For years his work had been supported by a system that pumped money into his field for the glory of the motherland. Research was supported and valued only in the way that other symbols of national pride were supported and valued. None of that mattered, there would be no going back to what he had grown used to. He was ultimately forced to emigrate to the United States to continue his work. The only catch was that he could only leave his homeland if he went alone. This requirement was non-negotiable, a dark remnant of the old system.
Today he maintains a small apartment near his work place. I often see him wandering along the sidewalk always at a slow but deliberate pace, his head in the clouds, lost in his own thoughts. He tends to keep to himself, spending long hours alone in his office. Never a day goes by when he does not report to work. If you say hello to him, he will flash a big and courteous smile, before drifting away again. Nobody gets too close to him, it just seems to be understood. I wonder how he views his life today. I wonder if he accepts the sacrifices he has made with regrets or with peace. I wonder what he ponders as he ambles along the road of life and if he spends more time looking forward than looking back.