Sunday, May 1, 2011

A home apart

I find it hard to describe the feeling of being both a part of and apart from the same thing, but this is the moment that brought it most vividly to life inside me:
I am sitting in an office where we keep all the toys, games, and medicine for the kids. We call it the POD office (POD, as in Parent On Duty - "who is On Duty?" the kids ask with a special emphasis on the capitalized words).
The POD office is in a building on the north end of our four acre compound, and the room that has become the POD office was chosen for that function because it allows the P who is OD to look out over the entire compound as it slopes down from the office.
So I am sitting perched on a hill that affords me not only a view of our compound, but a view that stretches out for miles. I can see the clouds in the sky and she shadows they cast on the trees and hills in the distance. The foreground is composed of children at plag (at the moment football and Connect 4), the middle ground a mixture of green-roofed trees and thatch-roofed huts, and the background a mix of the tans of land and the greens of the bush leading to four hills that descend in height, one to the next, as I scan from left to right.
So I am sitting looking out over this as I read a back issue of The New Yorker on my iPad.
We are home yet not home; it feels more like home than it ever has before - I move as a warm knife through butter rather than as a chainsaw through a redwood trunk - still it presents me with these marked juxtapositions that remind me that I both belong and stand out. The really cunning trick that I need to learn is not how to make myself fit in more in order to feel at home, nor is it to carve out a little niche of deep familiarity where I can feel at home. It is to feel at home in standing out.

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