Moving to a new country filled with new sights, sounds, customs and norms has been equal parts exhilarating, exhausting, amusing and stressful. Words you will notice I am not using are relaxing, mellow, familiar and comfortable. Chill was not the order I placed with the universe when I said, “Let’s move to Manila.”
For the past month, my brain has been in a pretty steady state of decision fatigue. Where will we live? What kind of automobile should we buy? Where can I buy groceries? Where can we eat that will have menu items that don’t contain flour or sugar? How do you make a left hand turn in a busy intersection that doesn’t have stoplights? And my favorite that came out of my eight year old son’s mouth, “Mom, how do you flush the toilet?”
This stream, or should I say raging river, of thoughts and decisions runs alongside a desire for the familiar, for the centering thoughts and experiences that can help me feel at home with myself even if I haven’t yet figured out how to feel at home in this place.
The first Airbnb we stayed in had two mugs and a few smaller teacups in it’s assortment of kitchenware for us to use. My first act of retrieving my sense of home was to claim the mug that felt comfortable in my hands and made me happy to use it each day. It was a dark gray Dean & Deluca mug that carried with it memories of a day trip we took through California wine country several years ago. We stopped at a large, warehouse size Dean and Deluca and shopped for some cheese and a chocolate babka. I don’t eat flour and sugar anymore, but I still remember how delicious that chocolate babka was.
From day one, that mug was my mug. It could be used for hot water with calamansi, hot tea and of course coffee. Oh what would I do without coffee?!
Our imagination gets captured with grand sweeping symbolic acts, but to me, the small quiet acts we perform day in and day out are what define and shape us as we make our way through our lives. We need big sweeping acts sometimes to clear out the dust and set our course anew, but we also need people, practices and sometimes possessions that make us feel perfectly fine right where we are.
Pop Culture Note: Where did a girl born and raised in New Mexico and matured in Hawaii learn about a chocolate babka you ask? Seinfeld of course! The Dinner Party episode featured a chocolate and then a cinnamon babka in its meandering or should I say Seinfeldian plot. This was also the episode that used the simple black and white cookie to unpack race relations. Oh Seinfeld…