It’s Saturday afternoon. After checking off on my weekend chore list, I finally parked my butt in my comfy chair which I turned around to face the big living room window. With a warm coffee mug nestled in my hands and the classic Xmas songs whispering in the background, I entered a transformed view of the back yard christened with first snow of the season. In the midst of getting lost in the looping Gif of falling flakes, it dawned on me that snow has power to beautify everything, even my neighbor’s normally unsightly shed.
I hear kids yelling and wife just got home and abruptly, I’m ding-dong back to reality.
Today, my son excitedly told me a girl’s private is called china.
Today, my 7 year old asked me what a wedgie was.
So I showed him.
On a fine Spring day, with new house keys jiggling in my hand, my wife and I stepped out of the settlement office. After dutifully signing endless documents with robotic fervor, the contract was finalized and we were more than ready to get out and head to our new house. We put the pedal to the metal and pulled into the driveway of our new house in no time. Up until this moment, we were in a mind set of utility, characterized by the legal and financial process of buying a house. But the very moment we stepped out of the car, the realization that we now belong to this house and the neighborhood hit us with feelings of excitement, hope, and uncertainty.
Fast forward to ten months later, I’m sitting in my dining room tinkering with and trying to restore a Mid Century Modern lighting fixture original to homes like ours. As I hold this object from the 50’s and start cleaning, my mind starts to wander to the lifestyle of former inhabitants of this house. What were they like? Did they enjoy living in this house and the neighborhood? What were their hopes and aspirations?
I can imagine theirs probably were not far off from mine at the core. Basically we all want a little piece of safe and nourishing haven where we can come home and relax after a hard day of work and where our children can grow up happily and reach their full potential. We also want a place to be responsive to our changing needs as we grow older.
So far, our house and the neighborhood meet our family’s needs and we are happy to call this place our home. And that feeling of uncertainty we had when we first moved in has dissipated in the course of numerous community events, backyard BBQs, house renovations, and settling kids into new schools and activities.
I still have a long list of house work and places to explore around the neighborhood. But I feel that, mentally, I am gradually beginning to take ownership of our home and our community.
A corpulent red cardinal abruptly came into my visual realm and swiftly landed on a springy tree branch, causing it to test its limits of elasticity.
Both fed by abundance of food and optimism, they engage in swaying dance of Spring.
Then just as abruptly, the red ball of a bird fluttered out of my sight, leaving the branch waving farewell and fall back to its daydreams of hunter green summer.
“You won’t believe what I found at the creek.” My wife exclaimed after returning from her neighborhood walk. In her unfolding hand, I saw what must be at least a thousand year old projectile point, wholesome and perfectly preserved. When I held it carefully in my hand, the train of suburban doldrums derailed and my thoughts wandered wildly about the lifestyle of the person who made it and used it and about my residential subdivision eons ago. I can’t quite wrap my head around it since there seems to be a huge disconnect between me and that stone age person. But as I gently caress this object in my hand, I do feel a presence of many lives lived here continuously for countless generations and a desire to connect with them.
For first time in my kid’s 7 years of life, the dreaded F word came out of his mouth at the dinner table.
A dead silence ensued.
I was at least relieved to know that he didn’t know what it meant. As I was trying to figure out how to deal with it, I recall my own experience with it when I was a teenager in a foreign country struggling to learn English.
It was one of very first words that I acquired while trying to mimic and fit in. I can still remember the impact of that word on people’s faces as I uttered casually. They expressed shock and confusion, but eventually smiled and forgave me.
It has come a full circle; now it’s my turn to smile and forgive as my kid gets bigger and inevitably acquire more choice words.
Could it be a trace of yogurt or lime from yesterday’s Turkish leftovers? It’s allowing me once again to bridge and revisit, through the back door, a rich culinary experience of culture so exotic and familiar at the same time. Once again i have thrown myself into a molten puddle from which i emerge as a more malleable and transformed world citizen.
Loading up the van trying to remember everything from dog food, toilet paper, tooth brushes, swimming suits, phone chargers, snacks, to camping gear. Wife says “Did you check the engine oil and the tire air pressure?”
Getting the house ready for vacancy : thermostat, watering the plants, paying bills, trash out, lights off, security lights on,…
And finally pulling out of the driveway,
Wife says “Honey, did you turn the oven off?”
Family huddles and shouts out “Let’s have a great trip!”
Barely 15 minutes into the trip, one of the kids says “Could you stop? I have to go potty.”