Sunday, February 15, 2009

Re-entry never easy.

It's not bad, it's not good. It's just change. In large doses.

My father said at lunch some days ago, overlooking the deep blue of False Bay, that he hates change. Odd that I had not known that. But that must be where I get it from. We are both creatures of habit. And yet both of us seem at times to choose experiences that would seem to be change in essence.

Can't explain that.

Habit stabilizes me. Keeps me on an even keel when the world has gone wobbly. But it can also threaten new experience, or its enjoyment.

Habit made me take the espresso pot to Namibia.

And that was a good thing.

Change made me sulk when the tent - my house, my anchor, in transit - wasn't ready, with made bed, when we arrived somewhere new.

Change taught me that drinking wine out of enamel mugs was just fine.

And woke me up before dawn to see sunrizes and animals.

Habit - walls made of brick - kept me awake all night, wondering if we were being crept up on by animals and men, thanks to change - walls of knife- and tooth-piercable tent.

Did I forget to mention that I have an overactive imagination, too?

So, I am home. Then where was I before? That is part of re-entry. Submitting to Not Knowing.

There is sun in the little apartment, which is warm. The sliding door is open to the 66 square foot terrace and I can feel the chill of New York winter on my left side. The cat is asleep on the chair beside me. It is before noon and so the day still has possibilities. As jetlag sets in they will dwindle, and I will be loathe to unpack, as I must, if I am to get off to a good start this week.

This morning I packed my husband into a cab bound for Newark to a plane bound for Vancouver, and so ends the longest time we have spent together: two very eventful, privileged months. Afterwards, in the morning cold, I went and bought supplies: lemons, onions, garlic, cilantro, avocadoes, radishes, organic chicken. And hyacinths. It seems I will be making a Mexican chicken soup for dinner. I have missed spice.

Yesterday, after a ritual and habitual cleaning of the apartment we went to Sahadi's and bought lunch: tarama, crackers, almonds, feta, green, hot, Greek olives. Sardines for the cat from Trader Joe's.
Last night we walked to Al di La, 35 foot-minutes away, for our habitual dinner there, but half an hour later walked back: Valentine's Day plus Saturday night and the wait was three hours long. We had not slept in 41 hours. Disconsolately walking back up Union Street things seemed sad. Our backs ached. Even Long Tan had not welcomed us, changing their menu for the night to a Prix fixe Valentine's special. No curries, no tamarind duck, no papaya salad to blow our heads off. Valentine's se voet. Habit thwarted.

Then we passed Stinky.

Celebrate Valentine's with Cheese, it said on a chalkboard. We looked at each other. We walked in. We left with cheese, and saucisson, and NY prosciutto, and a Pullman-style seedloaf, and Vermont butter. We found a Steenberg cabernet at the very ordinary wine shop on Smith near Atlantic. We limped home, happy. Habit re-established.

It is good to be back.

More Namibian pictures will follow, and from the rest of our trip, to the Kgalagadi and West Coast. Lots of good stuff, some iffy. All eye-opening.

Some of my pictures will be used in the upcoming Go! Magazine's booklet on camp food. A happy thing.

And quite funny, when one thinks how averse I have been to camping, all my life.

Tried it, liked it.

Which reminds me to post something about Turkish food...


  1. Welcome back. Well expressed. I often find a minor depression awaiting me on the other side of a lengthy trip. Like the lag, it takes a few days to work it out. Getting out to do the things you enjoy about where you live does help re-establish some order.

    I am not much for camping, done it very little outside of sleeping in my truck on road trips in my twenties. My wife loves camping. We're thinking of trying it this summer or autumn sometime. You've given me the motivation.

    Spring around the corner. It was 60 F last week.

  2. Welcome back, Marie! i so agree about habit and change and the love of new things, but don't have the time to write because i have to drive in to DC to pick up my father from the train station...he is selling the family home of 48 years and moving to Virginia in a couple of months. My mother died a year ago Tuesday. Talk about making changes!

    Look forward to hearing much more from you when you have time. In the meantime, give in to your body's need to rest to get back on this time zone and this climate. Welcome back!

  3. Big welcome back, Marie. So true about habit and change, be it sought out or inevitable. I look forward to more pictures from your travels, but also urge you to take your time to adjust to the return. The cad will adjust, too ...

    Hope you and Beence will find yourselves together again soon --


  4. Welcome back! To NY and to the blogs.
    Habit and change...much has been written by many, but seldom so succinctly.
    And I'd say a Stinky celebration of a Hallmark holiday is 24k!

  5. Welcome home to Brooklyn dear Marie :) I've enjoyed your travel posts thoroughly and the latest one of your Namibia sojourn was superb. I am excited to see your camp food materials as well! I'll look forward to your BK posts now -- I've missed them! -- and I continue to wish you, Beence and Estorbo well! Cheers xo Pritha

    PS: Soup is very healing for a dislocated sense of self/soul. Toast as well, I've found. Have some, cuddle up and bask memories of your excellent adventures. It must be ever so much harder to be away from the one you love after a period that marks the longest time spent together but remember: you do have the rest of your lives together. Hugs.

  6. Frank - I think my Icebergs rallied at the 60 and then got blasted. The poor things have new, shrivelled leaves. Try the camping. Just take along something that spells Creature Comforts for when it gets rough. And it will :-)

    QC - your poor dad...I hope he will be OK with it all once it sinks in.

    Hi Keli'i - give a keess to Ikaika :-)The cad is being well-behaved and polite until this flu ends. Then he'll start ranting again, I imagine.

    Pritha - hi, it's nice to see you again. Luckily I had a supply of soups in my freezer, so have been reheating borscht, chicken, etc. The good thing about being sick is that it reminds one of how nice it is not to be sick.

  7. Whoops, MIT - thank you! Still have some cheese left, too, yum.


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