Sunday, November 7, 2010

A new Sunday and thoughts of "Home"

Today was an interesting day to be sure.
Church is like a big family. Especially when you used to belong to it as a child. Everyone you meet is like a distant cousin or an aunt you've only met a few times.
Today one of my "great uncles" couldn't get my husband's name right.
So now as a joke I'm going to call him Jeremy. Which is even funnier because Jeremy is actually my cousin's husband's name.
Hahahahahaha! I think it's funny anyways.

Another interesting thing about today is that it's Daylight Savings. Last night at midnight the clock magically reversed an hour in order to save daylight (don't ask my why, I've been told it's Benjamin Franklin's fault... something about saving candles. *shrugs*). So today has felt off for both me and my husband.
We just can't seem to get the time right. I'm sure it doesn't really help that we went from one timezone to another only a week before the time changed on us. lol

The final interesting thing about today is that I've been confronted with thoughts of home.
One of my best friends has a snowy background on her blog that reminds me of Germany. The picture fills me with feelings that I believe is normal for a person when thinking of home. My heart feels warm and my insides are at ease, there is a lightness to my breath and thoughts and a brightness to my face. To look at the picture makes me feel just plain good all over.
So I let my friend know about it.
In response she asked me to tell her about my home. At first I got all excited: "Yay! I get to share all of my happy!" and then I felt kind of panicked because I realized I don't just have one home. I did my best to give a short answer on her page, but I can't help but feel that isn't enough.
I've been thinking about it and I'd like to share my thoughts.

When I first came back the the United States of America I did not fit in. There was no one who thought the way I did, and even with my super powers of understanding that being a military brat has grown in me, I had a very hard time communicating how I felt and thought.
It was very frustrating to me when people would ask me where I was from. Because I had no easy answer. Did they want to know where I was going for the holiday break or did they want to know the last place I had lived? Not knowing what to say I'd rattle on about all the places I'd lived ending with where my family was from originally. The response was usually either nervous laughter or amazement that one person could actually exist in so many places in one lifetime.
The question of "where do you call home?" always made me upset. Home is not a plural word, it is singular. A person has one Home. Yeah sure, there are adds in the news paper for "Six homes under 250,000 dollars", but they're just using the word 'Home' out of context to hide the fact that they're trailer, mobile, or prefabricated houses.
With this line of thinking I became depressed because I felt that I would never be able to connect with the other students around me. Because I didn't have the one thing everyone else had: a Home. Later though, I came to the conclusion that everywhere I have felt happy and content is a place that I would call my 'home'. In reality I was very lucky and blessed by God to have more than one place that made me feel the way that others do when they think of their Home.

So I will tell you of my three homes. Originally there were only two, but as I was thinking I realized that I'd missed one very important place.

Home #1: My first Home, Colorado's Western Slope.
In the topmost west corner of Colorado is a town called Craig, it's a little south, down the mountain, from Steamboat Springs. Below Craig is another town called Grand Junction, it's in the valley at the base of the mountains to the south of Craig.
My father's family is from Grand Junction and my mother's family is from Craig. When I was a child I lived in Grand Junction and after we moved when I was 9 we visited every year for Christmas. It was home.
The sight of blue mountains with bald heads on the horizon that would light up red and gold as the sun set. Big thin Aspen trees, thick bodied cotton wood trees, ever greens, and weeping willows were the trees I climbed. Bees buzzing around in the orchard my grand parents had and in my grandmother's flower garden was a familiar sound. The grass was green and soft in the summer, brown and dead in the winter. Snow came at least once every winter and turned every hill into a slide. I love how it feels to have a warm body and a cold nose.

Home #2: Bitburg Germany.

When I was 14 we moved away from my home country. Being a homeschooled child I didn't have very many friends, but the friends I did have were very close to me. It was hard to move to a place where I could not understand everyone. What was more frustrating is when I could understand only half of what people were saying. We lived on the second floor of an old hotel called a Gasthaus. It was very hot in the summer because we had no air conditioning. Cows walked down the street to a pasture every day. My littlest brother was a baby, not even 2 years old yet. Being the oldest was hard because I was expected to learn everything to help everyone else. I went to highschool and learned German so that I could translate for my family. Once I could do that I started to feel more at ease.
I didn't understand everything, but I could understand enough that I could get to know people. We could come to an understanding using words I knew and they could teach me more words. I don't know when part of the German culture rubbed off on me, I think it may just come with learning another language, but it became my first New Home.
The food, warm and thick, filled with creme and spices. Like the people who were hearty, strong, polite, but never lied to you (well most of them didn't). Families lived together and helped each other. Cars were made to go fast and last a long time. Life there was tough for the Germans sometimes but they were tougher. Cathedrals of carved stone and colored glass were made to reflect the beauty that God had made and the possible beauty of heaven so that the worshipers could feel Awe. It was important to work together, to make concessions for others, to a point. You were never to lose yourself and you made your family name proud the best you could. There was also snow here. Unlike my first home though there were more open fields and trees I never learned the names of, but I loved over time. The sky wasn't blue in the winter it was white; whiter than the snow on the ground. The trees looked like black hands reaching up and lined with a sparkling layer of frost and snow. It was beautiful. Warm bread and cider and hot steamed Knodle filled with vanilla pudding and covered with strawberry sauce warmed your insides from the cold. Old stone roads that had been warn smooth by so many years were warm when the snow melted and almost soft to bare feet. I miss the stone, the carvings, and the laid back attitude that filled the spring air. I miss the butcher shops where one could pick out a goose that hung from the ceiling or a rabbit from the cooler. I miss Celery root and watercress and produce that came from the farm next door. Home made liqueur and the odd loving respect for the effects of alcohol. I miss the bike trails that wound through the farmland from dorf to dorf (village to village) and the smell of the bakeries as you passed. Gelato... oooh Gelato!
This is where I grew up, this is where I made myself into something even more unique than I already was, this is my home.

Home #3: Misawa Japan

I was already an adult in my mind when I moved to Japan. Though my heart was jumping for joy like a child's when we arrived. I chose my dream over college. Since I was 8 years old I had wanted to visit Japan. I loved the images that were printed in brilliant colors in the books I read about Japanese festivals and traditions. Though my postmodern upbringing made me disagree with some of the customs I still found them strangely beautiful.
The harmony of man to nature and machine was something new for me. I wasn't used to the idea of having a sacred tree or mountain alongside a frighteningly advanced kind of technology. My Japanese cell phone that I bought 3 years ago was more advanced than the phone I currently own, and the Japanese phone cost half as much. I fell in love with the pastries and the cheap food. The way the entire store would greet the ringing of the bell attached to the door. I'd never liked fruit very much but in Misawa it was cheap and so very delicious. I love the sight of Kanji, it's like art instead of words. I loved my Japanese coworkers, I knew I could count on them to do their job and let me know when I wasn't doing something right. Masako made me laugh when she would tease my dad after she got to know him.
I miss Sakura's, the soft pink snow that drifted from the trees in April and May. The knots of roots the poked through impossible black earth from ginko trees that had yellow leaves like fans. Racing my siblings up a stupid amount of temple steps. Pericura (photobooths) and video games inside the mall, dance dance revolution contests with my friends. Japanese McDonalds is SOOOO much tastier. I liked finding all the new and interesting things in the 100yen stores. Japanese music gave me a peaceful feeling or made me laugh.Art in Japan is so much softer and flows like water instead of standing like iron. Kimono's, fans, kokeshi dolls, t-shirts with bad English phrases on them, all of it was like being in a picture book for me. It was the place I'd always wanted to be... and the best part is that there was snow.
It was here that I came to an appreciation of my body I hadn't had before. Being free to go to an Onsen and soak with other women and see their unique shapes made me feel more like a woman. I could look in the mirror without thinking that I was ugly or flat chested or masculine armed. When I looked I saw a woman with a tall nose and long legs who's neck was still pretty even with her wide shoulders. I may not have been able to master Japanese like I had German, but the little bit I did opened my mind to a different way of thinking. A respect for the earth and it's creatures beyond what I'd known before. A belief and a surrender to a destiny larger than the self. The need to give back to the community even if it runs the person to their knees. The honor of the family and high expectations of the children. The sacredness of being Japanese and keeping out too much influence from other sources. So different from what I'd experienced before. This was the last home I've had.

Other thoughts:
Maybe it's just the snow that makes me feel at home. The chilly feeling in your nose and ears. Scratchy scarfs around the neck and gloves that don't quite keep the fingers warm. Warm drinks and blankets with people I can share my feelings with. Maybe it's the sight of my life's breath hanging in the air allowing me to see that: Yes I am alive and a part of this great big beautiful world that I believe was created by something larger grander and more powerful than anything else.
A God who saw fit to make me inside my mother and let me see, feel, taste, touch what and who he made. Because I have a feeling deep inside that he likes to see me smile.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this posting!

    Mastering foreign languages is impossible for anyone else, sadly. That's very a different field for many people.

    But I do love HOW you love your foreign cultures. I got to know how you look at everything to bring your insight. My culture is very deep and beautiful for me to read this posing. I love it. I also am interested in getting to know German culture. Germany is the place I want to go in the future.

    I haven't seen Sakura trees for years. I will look forward to seeing it next sp. And I know you also want to see them too. So I will take pictures of the trees to post on fb.