Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm a stranger here myself

It's finally happened. Fall in the midwest is officially over. The farmers are already turning their fields over for next spring and every.single.leaf. has dropped to the ground. Back in the northeast, fall was my favorite time of year. You couldn't go very far without running into someone in an Irish knit sweater, an apple orchard or pumpkin farm complete with requisite hayride, and, of course, the hills covered in the splendor of autumn reds, oranges and golds. Here in the midwest, it just isn't quite the same. When I was speaking to the Ethiopian born son of our friends, he remarked that he liked the midwest just fine, but he missed his mountains. I thought about his comment quite a bit for many days to follow, and I realized something...I miss my mountains, too-especially this time of the year and especially the mountains that my parents now call home (although I still cannot bring myself to call their new home phone number, so for now I bask in the ability to dial the 203 area code that still exists on my mom's cell phone.)

His comments make me wonder about H and Baby T and what parts of their home they might be missing when they land here in this very, very flat place.

But as an adult, and one who has had NINE different addresses in THIRTEEN years, there are some things that have softened the loss of my homeland (and anyone who tells you that it's just all the same old US of A--definitely did NOT grow up in New England!) that I wish I would have shared with our friend's son:

First, being the new person gives you greater empathy for those who come and are newer than yourself. Remember what it felt like to be the "new guy" and look for opportunities to welcome those who are trying to find their way in a new place.

Second, each place that you go will have its own hallmarks. Germany just wouldn't be Germany without the Christkindlmarkt or the Schnell-Imbiss. Georgia and some of her fine Southern women gave me my first taste (and the recipe, after I couldn't find it in any cookbook!) for sweet tea. The rolling hills in Kentucky with the full hype of Derby Day, the history in New York (not to mention the pizza), and even the sweetness of Midwestern summer corn! I still hold dear the special things I grew up with, but I've added many more to the list as well.

Third, look for humor in the differences. My children stare at me blankly when I ask for my pocketbook until I rephrase the question using the word purse; then they laugh. And to hear someone ask for I-talian dressing still makes me chuckle.

Finally, it really is all good. So much of where we've been and what we've seen and the people we've met are all pretty much the same. Sure there are a few differences, but pop will still be soda, and football will still be soccer, and to me baked mostaccioli will always be baked ziti no matter what it's called. I even noticed the other day, while driving down one of the farm roads out by our house, that as the sun set just so in the wide-open sky against the back drop of a lone barn amidst the yellowing corn stalks...fall isn't so bad in the Midwest after all.


Giessenmom2 said...

The beauty is not so much in the place as it is in the person who sees it j. Our Lord has painted many master pieces... it is up to us to see them.

patjrsmom said...


Cath said...

My mother-in-law has some I-talian friends who shared their spaghetti recipe with her. The recipe is good but I giggle every time she mentions this fact. Living on the left coast has certainly boosted the numer of things that are different in each place we have lived, too. Que sera! When it's not driving me mad, that is. You offer some great insights on being the newcomer, thanks.