Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just as I had finished listing the reasons why women are inherently more intelligent than men, hubby sitting subdued on the side of the tub flossing and I preparing for bed, my wedding ring slipped from my fingers and Cling! down the water pipe it went!

A little female cry - and an indulgent smirk from my bemused tutee.

The Russian made quick work of saving my lost coin, but not before suggesting I stop tempting fate with words words words!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The people I love are like flowers, clumped together in the little banged up pot that is my life.

One just happens to be German, married to a native here in Switzerland, and we marvel over our differences that seem so oddly familiar!

Every fall we drive down to visit her and her family along the lakefront. We go to the pumpkin patch and buy pumpkins, we take pictures of the fabulous colors, we drink coffee and eat German dessert, and our husbands laugh at us speaking French together, our common tongue. Sometimes a German word will slip in and I'll nod. At other times a string of English.

And it is what it is ... a hodgepodge friendship in my little banged up pot.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Too much work last week had my mind fried. words. words. words. Whenever that happens, I wait till hubby gets home (I will affectionately refer to him as the Russian, though sadly he is not), grab my purse and head out to our local brocante. This is where I glean!

Look what I found upon my last getaway! A set of silver spoons from another lifetime. They were literally black, fitted into a turquoise-lined box, when I picked them up. And the Russian looked doubtful when I walked in the door, fully regenerated and beaming. That night I placed them in a mug in the center of the table, and waited to see what I would see. Ah, the delight of this sweet family that never fails to oooh and aaaah over my recent finds...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The batmobile, or love on wheels.
I live overseas in cultural exile. Anyone who has been at least 15 years abroad and who is married to a person of a different culture will know what I mean by a cultural exile, no matter how happy they are. If you haven't and you aren't, well it might be a stretch. But there is this nauseous feeling that creeps up on you after so many years (or for some rather quickly into the game) that just won't go away. It is a gnawing, knotting sort of pull that no travel meds or ginger pills will cure.
I've been away long enough to know not to generalize; not everyone catches the same bug. But I fell victim to it some time ago and believe me when I say it is no picnic. There are no cafés lovely enough to ease the homesick heart. Ex-patriots will often exhibit a sort of bilious expression, masked of course to the world by a content and adventurous exterior, and only members of the pack will pick up the scent; but it is unmistakable among our ranks.
It was exactly one year and a half ago that I felt the first Niagratic pangs. 9 years had gone by since I had been "back home", and I was gearing up for a great time. I had a dream vacation packed full of excitement planned out for this family of six. And it was a dream vacation. Full of family and old friends and, more unexpectedly, tears. Tears to rival the Falls.
I remember walking through the door of my parent's house after all those years. I stood in silence and looked around, feeling dazed. It was not the feeling I had been expecting. I remember feeling the crush of my father's hug, and looking up to see a knowing glint in his eye. He took a step over to the kitchen counter, picked up his cell phone and the car keys to his new red car and held them out to me. "Here. It's your car. Have a good time, sweetheart."
Have a good time, sweetheart? I've been back twice since, and every time he goes through the same ritual; he gives me my freedom in the batmobile and a verizon line. The car is even equipped with a credit card for gas - just in case.
Early in the mornings during my stay, I get up and try to sneak out of the house before anyone is up to take the freedomobile for a spin. I like to drive around the neighborhood and stop at my favorite bridge deep in the forest of yesterday. I like to have my coffee there, and linger in the grocery store where they play Dan Fogelburg and James Taylor. I like to buy something, and have the bagboy bag my groceries (a non-existent commodity where I live).
It is a different world; it is the real world; it is the world that once was, given back to me in car keys and a kiss.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Does it seem possible to you? The snow has just finished melting into the ground, the tiny blades of green grass have only begun to pierce the unfrozen soil, and yet the crickets are singing outside my window. Summer crickets, of all things. Bells peal through the valley as rain falls softly, not pelting and cold; a promise of newness comes.

I have a friend who lives far away from me. Oceans in fact. For years we were separated - time and circumstance had made us strangers. But she is one of those friends with whom after a 10 year absence you pick up mid-sentence, right where you left off. You just sigh and say, "Anyway..."

Those ten years had brought ups and downs, like years will do for anyone. But when I found her again, I was at a place in my life when the frozen rains had been beating down a little too long, and I needed her cricket song. She is spring to me; and I have learned that friends, my true friends, bring to my life the promise of a newness to come.

Hello to whoever is out there, and I hope someone is. I am a woman who lives in a house with her husband and raises four children day in and day out, for better or the inevitable worse. It is a happy life, and a wild ride. I am also a language professional, and this is the place where I hope to let my professionalism drop to the floor like a bathrobe and stand naked in the wind of free words and daring thought.

My eldest daughter once asked me "mommy, won't you come outside and play?" It was long ago, 10 years at least, and I stood at the kitchen window leaning out on the cold concrete ledge, my hands and head whirling with all the things I was doing at that very minute, and said carelessly, "In a minute!"

She stopped twirling and began to skip away, calling as she went "Which minute?".

She never stopped for an answer. But I have been asking myself her question ever since. It comes back to me time and again as the days disappear behind me and the door slams shut in the wake of their retreat.

"Which minute is that?"

Come and play awhile.