Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another interim post: Melancholy

I decided to give myself the night off from everything tonight (well, everything except doing bedtime, and going grocery shopping because the 1st tuesday of every month is Customer Appreciation Night & you get 10% off and when one is still in shock about grocery prices that seems like a very, very good thing) and as soon as I decided it was okay not to do anything, I had the urge to write a post. Funny, that.

So this is not a post about much. Just: since this blog now has something of a plot as well as just anecdotal day-to-day, and the plot is One Family's Move to Vancouver, it seems wothwhile to note that tonight I was stricken with melancholy and homesickness. This is noteworthy because I haven't been, much. The Renaissance Woman and Mermaid Girl have been missing their friends a lot, but I've been riding high. I had a few friends in Seattle, but most of my friends effectively live at the other end of the phone or inside my laptop, and they're just as close (or as far) now as they were before.

But tonight--I don't know what it was. Was it that the Muzak in the Safeway was Billy Joel's "The Night the Lights Went Out on Broadway," which is an elegaic kind of song any way you look at it and is made more so by being part of the soundtrack of my youth? Was it the end of Daylight Savings, or the rain, or the onset of Remembrance Day, which has a completely different tenor here than Veterans' Day does down in the States? (Everyone is wearing little red poppy lapel pins. For remembrance. Of how bad war is, I think, which is sort of a refreshing sentiment to see expressed generally and supported civicly. I made a poppy pin out of red and black duct tape, and I have to say it looks pretty good.)

Don't know. Just is that way, tonight.

On the plus side, RW just today got an on-call job that she wanted, that's much more convenient for all of us than the bit of a job she's already got. And yesterday was my day off, so I went to pick MG up from school and it was a beautiful golden fall afternoon, and she ended up playing on the school playground for an hour while I talked with the other moms. I didn't feel immediately accepted into the circle of friendship or anything, but it was a start. And it's something I never got to do at MG's old school, where she took the bus and anyway I worked every weekday and didn't get home till 6.

And when the last kids were being detatched from the general clump under the monkey bars and dragged off home, little siblings in their wake, we detatched ourselves too and headed up the hill, in step, as it turned out, with one of her classmates, whose dad had been sitting alone, apart from everyone. He and I talked and the two girls talked and raced each other the four blocks straight uphill.

I liked him; he reminded me of the dad of one of MG's best Seattle friends, an offbeat, deadpan guy who's older than most of the rest of us parents. Like the Other Dad, this one was prone to tossing off bits of random trivia and incongruous observations: he started off telling me about the stupendous economy of Finland, and just loped right along conversationally from there. I felt right at home with him. And when we peeled off for our street, it emerged that they live only two blocks away.

Maybe the melancholy I feel is what that sister in that Chekov play would've felt if she ever had gotten to Moscow. After the excitement of settling in, she would notice that Moscow is just another place, after all, and that she's still just herself, the same self she was at home.


Blogger witchtrivets said...

Great analogy. I know exactly what you are talking about. Feeling it myself in Portland on our 1-year mark. Still the same person, just in a different place. Things are more familiar, but still. I am homesick, but don't tell anyone.

Well done post, though. I'll think about it all week, I'm sure.

8:37 AM  
Blogger S. said...

Having weathered a temporary move to a place that was never right for us, I'm resonating with this, but hoping that it will turn out differently. We chose our place based on the constraints of graduate school acceptance letters, and it seems like you have chosen this place based on its own merits and wanting to be there. That is much more how I feel about the neighborhood where I live: it's not just a place, it's a place that provides for me, and I think that so far in the plot of the story, anyway, Vancouver seems to be providing. I hope it will continue!

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Arwen said...

I know what you mean; I've had it not about city (since when I moved to Vancouver I was Moving Away From Home, and that first move, first step, IS a whole world away) - but I've had it about switching apartments. New apartments always fill me with this giddy explorer's hope and excitement. Eventually, I realize that it's all my stuff, material or otherwise, just differently configured.

On groceries: Recently, at Dr. B's site, she put forward a monthly budget. Suddenly, there were tons of folks suggesting her grocery budgets were far too high: they were about a 1/3 less than what I would have budgeted for her family, based on my family's consumption. That tries, but fails, to go organic (due to price). It was my first inkling, really, that Things Are Different Here. I pay less than $2.50 per day per person for all my family's meals and cleaning products and hygiene products, etc.: this didn't seem to be ridiculously expensive to me. Turns out I could do it at 1/2 that in the American Midwest.
I find this weird.
Oh, well. I am at least hopeful that part of this is our stricter regulations about the health of the animals, and I am also hopeful it means something about the small farmer. We don't allow the Monsanto drug for increased milk production, etc.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous crabcake said...

I can really relate to this, too. And sometimes what keeps me from being homesick is that I am still the same.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Pamelamama said...


1:30 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

We wear the poppies because of this poem:
some of which is reproduced on the back of the $10 bill.

1:53 PM  
Blogger parodie said...

To add to kate's information: the poppies are in remembrance of those who have died, and are produced by and offered in exchange for donations by the veterans. There are many understandings of what it means to remember, and "never again" is a common and significant theme, but there is also an undercurrent in many places of fighting necessary evil (especially as it relates to WWII). Wearing a poppy is a statement about how people shouldn't have to die, but it's also (IMHO) a way of recognizing that those who did die did so thinking this was a right and important civic duty, and that in doing so they sacrificed something enormous.

9:27 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Kate and Parodie-- thanks, much. I really was kind of vague on the meaning of all those poppies (I hadn't even ever read the whole Flanders Fields poem, though I'd heard of it), aside from what I posted above, and your explanations are the most cogent I've seen yet.

Everyone else--thanks much for the kind words and sympathy. Today was better.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous MonkeyPants said...

Your poppy made of duct tape seems like such a sensible thing to me. This year alone, I have accidentally stabbed myself in the neck, hand, and thigh with my poppy.

I am told that the way to combat this is to stick a little bit of eraser onto the pin, to keep the poppy in place. Me, I keep losing the eraser bits.

12:18 AM  
Blogger parodie said...

monkeypants (and elsewhere): I have replaced my pin with a safety pin, leading to a more securely affixed poppy and no (more) loss of blood on my part. This was only after stabbing myself on that stupid pin several times, of course...

1:33 PM  

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