With this move there are just so many things to think and write about, and as the kids get into school in the next couple of weeks, I hope to do that with more regularity.
Tonight as I was walking the dog, my mind was running over this move, again and again, the way I run my tongue over my teeth after a trip to the dentist, feeling the difference.
There are moments when my heart lifts, and I feel nearly ecstatic, "this is wonderful, we will do so well here, we will be so happy!" I think. Then, at another time I am completely down in the dumps, "what on earth have we done, leaving so much behind?". I feel immature in the extreme when I confess that those two feelings can follow each other within the space of ten minutes, or chase each other around and around like a cat after its tail.
The first thing I saw in Sydney that I loved were the giant ornamental fig trees that grow along Lyon's Road between Five Dock and Russell Lea. Here in Houston, the giant oaks towering every where you look, assured me that this city can be my friend. I can trust a place with such solid trees.
Yet, there are things here that are so different, and that make me feel so uncomfortable.
While The Captain was gone, I was driving along a somewhat sketchy street and saw a rough looking man stagger, clutch his chest, retch, and then pass out on the sidewalk. Alarmed and concerned, I circled around the block, which was even sketchier than I had thought at first glance, and confirmed that yes, the man was still passed out on the grass. I didn't stop. There was no place to pull over. I chose not to stop.
In Australia the social welfare system is strong. You hardly ever see poverty. In fact, I don't think that poverty as we know it in America exists in Australia. I don't know if you could ever actually go hungry there, or fail to have access to medical treatment. There must be situations where people hit rock bottom, and I've spent enough time in poor neighborhoods in Sydney to know not everything is roses, but the middle class is broad, and the social net is well constructed.
Being in Houston for three weeks, I have seen poverty on a scale that I haven't seen in all those years in Australia. People are begging for money at so many intersections, disabled vets are selling candy at freeway entrances, and people sleeping under bridges are visible in my daily routine.
People talk about going to impoverished nations and having their lives changed when they see how others live. Drive two blocks out of my posh neighborhood and you can see the the struggle.
What do I do? How do I respond?
In Sydney I gave money to programs that were important to me, and I tried to live a life of kindness with all those I interacted with. I cared for foster children. Here, there is someone standing next to my car window with an outstretched hand
Fallen on hard times.
Will work for food.
Vet needs help.
We have to learn how to live here. I have to learn how to raise my children here. I don't have any quick or immediate ideas on how to do that well. I have always raised my children with the perspective, if we see a need, we do what we can to fill it. I have modelled that for them time and time again.
Here, the need seems so immense, so numerous, and so profound, that I don't know where to start or what to model for them.
Anyway, I started off with the thought that there are moments here that feel large and lovely enough to camp around, and build a home with, and others that feel so homesick and lonely that I catch my breath.
Today The Captain hugged me and said in my ear "are you thinking about standing at your kitchen sink, looking across to the stadium and Olympic Park, hearing the laughter from the children playing at the park, and seeing all the trees?" "I'm trying to feel that kind of joy looking at a scene in this house" I said, "so that this place fills my heart the way that one did."
I am looking for the moments that make this feel like home.