Monday, December 10, 2012

Home, from home

Home is finding your way through rooms in the dark. Small sounds whose origins are parts of your breathing: the click of a dripping tap, the sigh of a highway, the meowing howl of peacocks, the shudder of a pipe in the roof, doors opening in rooms you know. The bed, the sheets, their clean smells. The garden. Full blown agapanthus and cold wet strawberries in pots. A stove top espresso pot and its pent up hiss of steam.

I lay in bed in the dark this morning and tried to picture where Vince was standing. I could hear him opening drawers, and I knew he was looking for the keys that I had used to let us into the Brooklyn apartment yesterday evening, after  a hellish re entry at JFK whose utter disorder and ugliness and hour-long wait to get through a melee at customs made us long for the civilization of Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, and Cape Town International and Amsterdam's Schipol (where trolley carts are free! Not $5 a pop). I could not place the drawers he was sliding open and shut, not where they stood, nor in what building of what room in what country.

For ten days I have not missed Facebook, I have not missed checking emails obsessively. I have missed telling stories here, sharing beauty or incidents that demand telling, and I have missed the exchange of comments and reactions and other points of view. I have not missed feeling that there is never enough time to do it all. My inner clock has also been re-set by the jet lag of coming and going swiftly. I have been going to bed at a decent hour, before midnight, and, at least in Cape Town, rising before my husband, a first. I shall encourage my body to pursue this way of life. I like it.

Our short trip was wonderful, the experience of the birthday party for my father unforgettably good in a way I had not anticipated, the rare meals together with my parents precious, my mother's garden staggeringly beautiful. But I should not try to describe it all in one paragraph. There is coffee to be sipped, and work to be done, a rather sad unpacking, and then I will start organizing photographs and leaking Cape Town stories one by one.

Ferries are booming insistently and often in low mist that muffles Brooklyn, New York Harbor, the city. Even the copper spire of the church on Congress and Court is obscured.

There are still strawberry flowers on the terrace. The gravel is mottled and wet on the terrace floor. The tip of the cat's tail is brushing my ankle, as he stares out of the window. Traffic has started on the street below. Trucks are dropping off construction materials.

It is Monday in New York.  The city does actually sleep, but now it is awake.


  1. Welcome home...from home.

  2. this post brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes :) thank you for that. Having moved here from the Philippines, I know exactly how you feel.

    Welcome home away from home

  3. Beeldskone post, Marie. Dit was regtig heerlik om julle te sien.

  4. Lovely to read this first thing on a Monday a.m.
    Welcome back.

  5. Welcome back! Customs can be a nightmare depeding on how organized the officers are...Sea-Tac (my home airport) is another one with a disorganized mess in customs.

  6. Nice to hear that we can get things right at the airport here in Africa! Lovely to see my country through your thoughts and photos, I look forward to your insights.

  7. So glad to hear you are home safely. Have missed you, but so very glad you got to be with your parents during these happy celebrations. now - on the the madness of christmas in NYC!

  8. welcome back - can't wait to hear everything.

  9. Welcome back. This Flower Floozie is hoping you took lost of pictures of that spectacular Abascum in your mother's garden. Do you think I can grow one in a pot here in NYC? And how large a pot.

    Can't wait to see all those pictures. The flowers! WOW!

    1. I'm sorry I had not answered your question a while back - I tried, but Blogger ate the answer. This Verbascum is a perennial, or biennial, and I think it would weather winter, here. But it does mean the first year would (in all likelihood) be all growing and no flowering. My mom's self seed and she thinks they sometimes bloom in the first year. Don't see why a pot would not work. Full sun. Excellent drainage.

  10. Oh that was a wonderful post to evocative and beautifully descriptive.

  11. You write so beautifully.
    Being an immigrant to the US too, this really resonates with me... missing my original home, and yet also recognizing Cleveland as my present home. Each "home" tugs at my heartstrings, each in its own unique way.

  12. Yes, beautifully written. My heart aches for my old home as well, even as I live in what I call 'my in-between world'. My birth home calls to me as a cold mountain stream calls to a spawning Salmon. Soon it will be time to make that long trip to the place I love like no other, to the place where eventually I want my bones to lie. Welcome back!


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