Today the real source of my homesickness has dawned on me. Each new move, each big change, reminds me that there’s no chance of going home again.
This is probably because the home I imagine does not really exist. It’s a place where I’m sitting on the porch talking politics with my grandparents on a summer night. (“This war is all about getting oil for the Bush family,” said my grandfather about the 1990 Gulf War, so it’s probably best he isn’t alive to see today’s debacle.) It’s our farm, where we would pick blackberries in June and my grandmother would make them into pies and jams. It’s Christmas with all of my familiy together, everyone happy and stuffed with dressing and turkey.
All of that happened while I was growing up, but those events came only in transient moments. Home itself is transient. Whatever physical space or even relationship you create just won’t last. So you have to take whatever bits of it you can with you.
Home is where you make it. Home is here.
But I’m still homesick.
It is time to confess that living apart from The Fred is getting to me. We met in Chicago this past weekend, on my family’s annual trip there, and I could hardly bear it to watch him walk away at O’Hare.
“But why,” you ask, “have you and your parents been gathering in Chicago every third weekend in September since 1990?” Well, I’m glad you asked. My stepfather goes there for a toy soldier show, which draws hundreds of collectors, and my mother and I . . . . well, we shop. Not on Michigan Avenue, usually, which is a bit out of our price range, but at Woodfield Mall.
And Fred goes to the Art Institute. In case you are wondering, cab fare from Schaumburg, where the show is, to the Art Institute is $65. Each way. But as my mother and I easily spend that much at Woodfield, it’s a small price to pay to make Fred happy.
“And what about the food in Chicago?” you ask.
Well, we are in the burbs. And the burbs are pretty much the same everywhere. We had dinner at Houlihan’s and lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. No gourmet meals there. But they were joyful gatherings nonetheless, because I was with the people I love.
And that’s what food is really all about.
Fred and I had our second conjugal visit last weekend. He had kindly bought prosciutto and cantaloupe for me for our lunch snack on Sunday, and he sliced the cantaloupe himself and took the prosciutto out of its wrapper. I was very proud of him.
As we were cleaning up and he was throwing out the cantaloupe seeds, he asked, “Could we roast those? Like pumpkin seeds?”
I laughed and laughed. “Cantaloupe is a melon!” I squealed. “Like watermelon! You don’t eat roasted watermelon seeds.”
I laughed some more. I even laughed as I started to post this.
And then I looked on the Internet and found that apparently you CAN buy roasted watermelon seeds and that cantaloupe is actually a squash. And this Indian dish, Gond ke Laddu Laddoo Ladoo, uses seeds from cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin, but since it’s intended for nursing mothers to help their babies’ brains get bigger, I have my doubts about whether or not it’s something I’d want to eat.
I was also proud of Fred when he was approved by the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta for ordination on Saturday. He stood in front of the few brave souls who’d toughed it out to the end and thanked them for their friendship and support, and couldn’t go on because he got choked up. Of course everyone thought it was great. When it was all over he said to me, “I couldn’t believe I got so choked up”–this from the man who cried for about two solid hours during our wedding.
He is truly wonderful.
Dear Liberal Friends,
You are the best, kindest people in the world. I share your politics and welcome your kind and gentle presence in my life. I too want to put an end to global warming, see George W. Bush exiled to Iraq where he can enjoy the fruits of his own experiments in “democracy,” and make the world a happier, better place for all.
But if I see just one more of you in Birkenstocks and a fanny pack, you’re on the next plane to Baghdad.
Perhaps it’s not fair to single you out. After all, there are those fundamentalist women wearing those dreadful floral prints and sporting 1980s perms topped off with those bangs that can only be described as The Claw. And those teenage boys whose pants have fallen down so low they can barely walk and who haven’t yet realized that style went out sometime in the last century.
You, however, are intelligent people who keep up with the news. You are educated. And I am quite sure that you are well aware that the 1960s ended, oh, about 37 years ago. So please, put away the bahtiks, the tie dyes, the shapeless tops, the shorts at special events, the floor-length floral skirts you bought at an arts festival in 1974, and for the love of God, you balding men, cut those scraggy gray ponytails OFF.
If you don’t, I’m calling What Not to Wear and siccing Stacy and Clinton on the entire city of Chapel Hill.
Poor Fred. During our last visit, a quick perusal of the fridge reveal the following:
Piminento cheese salad (store bought)
Chicken salad (store bought)
Hot dogs and bratwurst
Unrecognizable vegetables in various states of decay
You will note that few of these items need any type of preparation involving a stove, with flames and heat and that sort of thing. Now I know why.
Yesterday Fred attempted to prepare a meal of boiled eggs. He put salted water in the pan, waited until it came to a boil, then added the eggs. He then went to surf the internet.
Some time later, a loud “ping” alerted him to the fact that all the water had disappeared from the pan and his eggs lay nestled in the blackened remains of one of their fellows, which had apparently exploded from the intense heat. I was not able to get a straight answer on whether or not the eggs were actually edible, but I imagine not.
Apparently he also melted a package of white bread to the top of the stove while broiling brats. I’ll have to assess the damage on my next visit. Let’s just hope the house is still standing.
I love that man.
Writing about the “fed” part of The Newlyfeds has been great fun, but I think that now, with my beloved Fred so far away, it’s time to write about the “newly,” as in wed.
It’s been hard for me to cook without Fred there to savor my latest experiment. My wonderful friend Donna, who is kindly providing shelter for me as I start work at Duke and the search for our new house here in Durham, would probably be a willing victim, but my heart just has not been in the kitchen these last few weeks.
Fred and I live in a strange liminal space right now–he’s in Atlanta, getting ready to be ordained, working at the hospital, and I’m here, starting a whole new life. We last saw each other Monday. It seems like it was last winter.
I really miss him.