November 27, 2012
I am going to tell you a little Thanksgiving parable, and I would like each of you to come up with the moral of the story.
We attended a big Thanksgiving celebration at the home of one of DH’s friends. I spent the first half of the meal at the kids’ table, as Burrito and Tamale would not let me out of their sight among all of these strangers. I prepared (vegetarian) plates for Burrito and Tamale, and then one of the matriarchs came around with a pitcher of apple cider for the kids. Burrito and Tamale don’t drink juice, so I gave them water instead. They ate their meals, then the other 7 kids scattered to watch movies and play with toys – all except for my kids. Tamale still had at least half an hour of eating to do, and Burrito wanted nothing to do with anyone but me, so the three of us moved to the adult table. I had managed to eat a bit by eaten at that point, but I hadn’t had anything to drink for hours. Next to my seat was a glass pitcher of apple cider, or so I thought…
“Hmm, this pitcher is very warm,” I thought. “I guess it is hot apple cider.”
I filled my glass and took a big gulp…
It was not apple cider. It was gravy.
I assume it is gross for anyone to drink gravy, but for a vegetarian? Yuck.
After she saw my face, the mother of the hostess, seated next to me, said “That is gravy, you know.”
“Yes, I figured that out.”
“I was going to say something, but then I wondered if maybe you meant to drink gravy.”
The moral of the story is…
November 15, 2012
The address of my new house is a very nice, normal address. The street name is a normal word. The house number feels like a nice number. Do I care? Kind of.
Out of nowhere, our otherwise very pragmatic realtor declared that our house number is good according to numerology. DH’s zen friend got excited that it is a good number according to feng shui. I don’t believe in either of those, but it just feels like a good number to me. I’ve lived in houses whose numbers were 5 digits, 4 digits, 3 digits, and 1 digit. In college, a friend whose parents’ house in a small town had a single digit house number teased me for living in a 5-digit house in a city; I teased him for living in the middle of nowhere. As an adult, I got my comeuppance when I moved to a street that had a single digit because there were literally 4 houses on the street. It was indeed in the middle of nowhere. My new house has a pleasant 3-digit number, in a reasonably populated part of the city. The number won’t get misheard by the pizza delivery guy like 15/50 or 17/70 (a couple of weeks ago, the delivery guy tried to deliver my food across the street to a house number that doesn’t exist because the phone guy wrote it down wrong). Although I often prefer odd numbers, this is a comforting even number. Round, but not too round.
The street name is even more relevant to my line of thought. Although my mother is now deceased, I’ve always been attuned to names that might be hard for her, since English wasn’t her first language. Some of my past street names gave her trouble, and my current (soon-to-be-former) street name would definitely have given her trouble; she would definitely have mispronounced it and probably have spelled it correctly but only with great effort. This new street has an understandable, straightforward name. In the neighborhood, there are 2 street names that I’m not sure how to pronounce, 3 that can easily be misspelled, and 7 that are flat-out ludicrous and fake-sounding. Another street a few blocks away is one letter different from Tamale’s real name. That doesn’t leave many acceptable street names in the neighborhood, so I lucked out. If a house had a bad number or weird name but was otherwise perfect, of course I’d still buy it. But, this address adds to the already overwhelming feeling that we’ve bought the perfect house.
Do you care about your house number or street name?
November 8, 2012
A month ago I referred to a snap decision I’d made but I didn’t say what it was, as I didn’t want to spill the beans until I knew for sure that it was happening. Now, it’s for sure, so I can tell you.
We are setting down roots! Let me explain…
Some people I know have been rooted in one place all their lives; some by choice and some by default. One of DH’s siblings, for example. All of the other siblings have lived in multiple cities (either within North America or in some cases all over the world), but this sister has lived in the same house all her life. When she went away to college, it was one hour from home. When she finished college, she moved back into her parents’ house. She is now going to grad school in her parents’ city, still living in her parents’ house for now. She is setting up long-term job prospects in that city. Her fiance is from the same city and has no interest in going anywhere else. When they have the money they will move out of their parents’ houses and live together, somewhere in the same city. I calculate it to be a 99.99% chance that they will live in that city for the rest of their lives. They’ll probably live in at least a couple of homes over the years as their incomes and situations change, but no way are they ever leaving that city.
As a kid, I lived all over the place. It was always in the same state, and for most of the years it was in the same region of the state, but over the course of my childhood I lived in a dozen different homes all over that region.
My mother moved every year or two (I can think of a couple of places she/we lived for 3 years, but I think that was the max) for her entire adult life. Oddly, a couple of months after I left for college, my mother moved into a house and stayed there for the next 17 years (and in case anyone remembers my post from a year and a half ago, Google Street View does still think she’s there). Only in my absence did she develop the stability I always yearned for. She only left that house because she was no longer able to live on her own. At the time of her death, she’d still tell you that she lived in that house, and that the assisted living home was just temporary.
For college, I made a point of moving as far away as possible. After that, I had no expectation that I’d stay in one city. The nature of my job is such that almost everybody in my field moves to a new city at least once or twice, and often more. DH and I were willing nomads, eager to have new experiences. Move 3000 miles? Sure! Move 2000 miles in a different direction? Absolutely. Move 3000 miles in yet another direction? Fine. Move another 2000 miles? Okay, but maybe I’ll finally stay this time…
Soon, I will make my last move — if not for the rest of my life, then hopefully for many, many years. We bought a house and, for the first time ever, we plan to stay. Oddly, one of the most permanent choices we will ever make was a snap decision.
My friends in the adoption world talk about Forever Families. A similar phrase keeps floating around my mind: Forever House. As someone who has never had one, “Forever House” sounds just wonderful.
When they go off to college, my children will have a real hometown. (I always had to refer to a region of a state, not a city. At least I had that; I know some people who have no “hometown” and either provide a list of cities or say “everywhere” or “nowhere.”) Burrito and Tamale were born in one state and spent their first two years in another state, but from age 2 to 18 they will, I hope, live in the same city. From age 3 to age 18, they will live in one house.
After that, I want them to feel free to go where life takes them. I want to tell them:
Don’t feel the need to stay tethered to this place; follow your dreams, follow your whims, follow the wind. I’d be glad to have you nearby, but I also prefer that you try some other cities first. You know where to find me: in our Forever House.
Except, uh, Burrito and Tamale, that once you go off to college, your father and I will probably go on many extended trips all over the world. So, kids, you’re always welcome to come home, but you should call first, in case I happen to be in Barcelona or Melbourne or the Galapagos or something. I may have roots now, but there’s a big marvelous world out there. You can’t expect me to stay in the same city all the time.
How deep are your roots? How deep do you want them to be?
November 1, 2012
Welcome to the November Intelligentsia.
#37: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#32: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#30: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#29: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#19: St. Elsewhere
#17: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#14: Ana from Ana Begins
#14: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#12: Sara from Aryanhwy
and new Intelligentsia member Mina from Kmina’s Blog
34 years ago yesterday, I dressed up as a ballerina and went trick or treating. I clearly remember being inside the house of my next door neighbors, a kindly elderly dentist and his kindly elderly wife; she told me that she had saved a caramel apple just for me. (Can you believe there was a time when people made treats themselves?) I felt so special. I clearly remember going to the other next door neighbor’s house, tripping and falling on their front walk. I felt embarrassed, even though there was no one there except my mother. I vaguely remember going to the neighbor two doors down, with the teenage daughter who babysat me sometimes.
I also clearly remember going shopping for 3rd birthday presents, though I don’t know if that happened just before or just after Halloween, so I’m not sure which is my very earliest memory.
I have a cluster of other memories from right around that time. Some are mundane, like changing the channel on the TV to Sesame Street. Some say something strange about 3-year-old me, like the time I told my father, “I love you more than I love Mommy,” and then a few minutes later telling my mother, “I love you more than I love Daddy.” I remember that so clearly. I was sitting on the stairs with my mother playing a game where she made sound effects when I touched her nose. In the middle of the game, I professed my love. I remember a lot about that day, but I do not remember why I was being so manipulative.
I remember getting a Mickey Mouse phone for my birthday. I clearly remember playing a game where I kept calling my dad using my brand new Mickey Mouse phone with the second phone line. I’d keep calling him and say hello then hang up and call again. At one point, I must have dialed wrong, because I said, “Daddy?” and the guy on the phone was not my daddy. What’s surprising now about this memory is that a few days after my 3rd birthday I not only knew my numbers but could remember and accurately (most of the time, at least) dial a 7-digit phone number. Burrito and Tamale know some of their letters but don’t know any numbers, and they certainly don’t know any phone numbers. My mother was much more adept than I am at working on rote memorization, and she probably spent hours drilling me on that phone number. I can still recite that phone number and that address (we moved away when I was 4 1/2) more easily than almost any other address or phone number from the rest of my life.
Burrito and Tamale are now exactly a month older than I was on that Halloween. Their memories have become so amazing in the past few weeks; they bring up things that happened months ago, or out of nowhere they say something that I casually mentioned weeks ago. Every day they seem to understand and to remember more and more. At any time, something that they experience may become a permanent memory. It oddly feels like my actions and words matter more now than they did before. I’ve always tried to give them the best possible set of life experiences, but now I also feel an odd pressure to give them the best possible set of memories.
What is your earliest memory?