Tuesday, July 14, 2009


We have a new neighbor, a retired American guy who has chosen this place like many who seem to be choosing this place as their new home. Feeling neighborly I invited him to dinner, remembering my first weeks of lostness and oh my god what the hell have we done. A major news flash I haven't yet mentioned is that I now have a working oven, not one we bought but one that was traded out of another house, my jedi patience paid off. So friends, I'd like to proclaim loudly: I can bake things. I can cook without using the top of my stove.

Not that I'm much of a baker. But still. And I had a precious tub of ricotta, one I found the same day I made my vegetable discovery so I figured no better way to break in the oven than to make a lasagna. Anyways, this is all rather boorish so let's get back to the new guy.

One of the things I've been startled to find here is that some of the expats I am meeting, (generally the older ones) have actually left America because of their disgust with the increasing liberalization of our nation. They have nearly exactly the opposite politics as I do which is often a conversation stopper and one I cannot reconcile in my head but hey, to each his own.

So when our neighbor came over, beers had been cracked and conversation started he began telling us about the things he's bringing down, from a big TV to a fancy BBQ. As he looked around at our sparseness he issued an invitation to come over anytime and watch TV to which I said well TV isn't really important to us but yes occasionally I'd love to watch CNN and was going to finish the sentence with when Obama is giving a speech when he interrupted me midway with ah so you like the Communist News Network and so I of course my sentence was left dangling with J smirking in the background. Being unsurprised at this point I started to laugh, look at us, neighbor, you can't imagine we'd be anything else, and since it's safe to say our politics are at opposite sides of the fence we should probably agree to disagree up front and he laughed and nodded and I couldn't help adding but I generally prefer baking lasagna for socialists and there was a bit less laughing that time (I never quite know when to stop) and the conversation moved on.

Over the course of a reasonably pleasant non-political evening I was struck by the mirror our neighborly neo-con held up for me. Newly here, he was trying to make this place like the place he is used to, a place this will never be. He wants the bugs gone and the electronics in. He wants it to be orderly and he wants it to be cool. I had different wants but I had wants all the same, the skittish what the hell have I done sort of thoughts that leave you with nothing else to do but try and find what you left. I didn't realize it until after he left, this thing he's doing that I did and everyone probably does and how it's just something he'll have to reconcile or he won't be able to stay.

And I was happy in realizing that while I'm nowhere near assimilated I am coping much better, I have stopped freaking out about bugs and am growing used to the heat. I find marvel in the rickety bits and find absolute glory in the length of the sky. I am calmer here.

Because when you strip away all the distractions, the TV and the restaurants the commerce and the convenience the hustle and flow you are left with more time to think about who you want to be and how you might find ways to find stillness in the rush. It's all a part of why we came but I lost that for awhile because one can lose herself when she's feeling lost and now I'm finding I'm slightly more found and no matter what comes next this place is starting to change me in ways that I suppose I expected but like a new coat you have no idea how it will fit until it's actually on.

And on a totally unrelated note: No Baby Yet!

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Anonymous said...

I was thinking the other day about how, when you're out of your place you connect with people from 'home' that you really have nothing in common with. These could be people you would never interact with if you passed them walking down a city street. But when you're so far away, well, it's a different story. I can see you're encountering that a lot.

And I'm not sure I would know when to stop, either. ;)

flutter said...

maybe there are lessons in these....

Kyla said...

Dude, your neighbor and my mom would be fast friends. Except for the agree to disagree part, she's not down with that. EVER.

Did I miss something? What is this about babies?

kgirl said...

Bwahahahahaha! I too, enjoy taking things one sarcastic comment too far. Good luck with your neighbour. How the hell did he end up in your neck of the jungle?

Oh, The Joys said...

This makes me miss you... and love you.


Bon said...

i'm glad you were good with what you found in that mirror, glad it showed you the stillness you're starting to find.

but yeh, it's weird to go so far away and find some of the attitudes you most hoped to leave behind next door, isn't it? except the cool thing about being away is sometimes you can talk through them in ways you never would at home, entrenched in your own communities and not needing each other at all.

bgirl said...

interesting...love your thoughts though on not knowing how things fit until you try them on.