then and now

Ok, I promised myself that I wasn't going to write any more of these sentimental posts about how achingly sad we are not to be in Hong Kong, while at the same time how achingly happy we are to be here, now. But it's just the truth of where we are right now, folks, so, it's what you get.
Sometimes, when we are helping students plant a peace garden at Matt's school, and Finn is gleefully finding worms and smushing grubs and loudly declaring his love for dirt, Matt and I catch each other's eyes and we both think--this is why we came back. And when we go to the garden and Finn decides to go on a "bean hunt" and I find some tomatoes to make yet more ketchup, again we think--this is why we came back. And when we think that my parents can come for just a weekend visit--no big deal-- and Matt's parents will come soon for a weekend visit--no big deal-- and we'll be spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas with family, again we think, this is why we came back.
But then ... I think about how mid-autumn festival just passed by here with nary a mention, not a lantern in sight, and I think about how fall break is coming up and we'd be deciding where to go this year. Maybe Guilin, or Hanoi, or Japan--all places we didn't get to. And I think about how delicious a bowl of steaming Japanese ramen would be on these chilly nights, or hear Finn ask when we're going to the beach again, or ride a bus again, or see the turtles in Hong Kong park again. Or I think about how much I loved riding the Star Ferry across the harbor at night, admiring all the lights, entering the craziness that is Tsim Sha Tsui and finding a most delicious Indian meal.
I think about how quickly one can make friends in Hong Kong, how quickly our mom's group became a lifeline for me, and how much we all loved having Uncle Tuan over for dinner and a guitar jam. Or I listen to Americans cheer executions in Texas, or boo a gay serviceman ... and I know that these people are not the norm, that they are the crazies and are not taking over our country ... but why oh why do they seem to get so much attention? Or someone asks us where in Japan is Hong Kong or did I feel safe having Willa there... oh, and then I just think what have we done? why did we come back?
The truth is that it's always going to be a mix, isn't it? The heart will never be held in one place only ... and that's what I want. That's how I want to live, that's why we went overseas in the first place, to broaden our hearts. So this all just deepens our resolve to live fully here, to dig in and enjoy all the good things, the gardens and the leaves and the backyard and the house. And yet even as we put down roots, ones we hope will last a long time, to never get complacent or stagnant. To keep stretching ourselves, keep opening ourselves up, and keep planning adventures, whether in our town or around the globe.
Or even just in the leaf pile. 


L. DeAne Lagerquist said...

Oh, Monte, this is so achingly true and it is not what we remember to tell our students here when we urge them to cultivate a "global perspective." Opening one's heart is both a joy and an invitation to sorrow. LDL

HeatherB said...

Oh, do I ever know what you mean. I remember going to SF's "local" Chinatown (not the touristy one) and suddenly feeling so happy and realizing that I felt happy because it smelled right. There were lots of old ladies carried pink plastic bags of veggies. There were dim sum take out joints. That's when I think I fully realized how much HK had become home. I've been back for two years and I still miss it! I miss hiking up the Peak on Saturday morning, and taking a ridiculously cheap ferry to one of the Outer Islands. I miss my wonton mein place on Hollywood Rd. And I miss Mr. Chan!