If you ever have to leave a place, I hope that right before you go, someone visits you. I hope that someone visits you and that the someone is still full of wonder and excitement about travel, about newness, about being surprised by a glimpse of a city. Just like our guest was surprised today as we led him out of Waverley and into this city we will soon leave.
Sometimes recipes don’t work out. This was a tried-and-true chili recipe that I decided to adulterate when my quest for turkey mince came up short. (I would have settled for chicken mince, but couldn’t find that either.) The cookbook I used has provided me with many excellent meals so I felt confident that I could make a substitution without much loss in fidelity. Quorn is … interesting. I want to like Quorn because it is a gluten-free meat substitute and I’d like to eat less meat.
Life “If I waited for perfection, I’d never write a word.” –Margaret Atwood Often I want to say something important in the perfect way, so I keep putting it off until I figure out the perfect way. If the perfect way never occurs to me, I never say the important thing. The point is to say the thing because there will never be a perfect way. (Thanks, Ms. Atwood.) So here’s the thing: in January, we are leaving Scotland to move back to the States.
There are many things I would not recommend that you do on Christmas Eve. Almost all of them revolve around shopping. And yet there I was, in the middle of a good-sized grocery store called Waitrose, cradling an amaretto-flavoured soy latte in one hand and a wire basket in the other, when I was introduced to the full-on HPM (Holiday Politeness Morass). In case it isn’t clear by now, I deeply appreciate living in a polite culture.
I’ve never been to Vegas, and I’m not sure if this photo of the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens done up for Christmas makes me want to go or want to stay very far away. But I love that I can look in on it, live, and feel wildly ambivalent half a world away. It’s been a while since my webcam was in regular operation, but I still peek in on webcams around the world, especially when I am feeling homesick.
My red fleece sweatpants are evil. Wearing them is basically the antidote to any productivity I might muster. As soon as I changed from sweatpants to proper grownup clothing today, I got a ton of stuff done. But listening to Patton Oswalt talking about the miracle of sweatpants made me laugh a lot. Today I am having a day of expat feelings, so I am going to talk about something I love about living in Scotland and something that annoys me.
Sometimes it is enough to know without thinking where the milk is, or the bread, or how to sidestep with a ducked head, “sorry” under the breath to anyone, or to half-unpacked boxes. What a luxury it is to be thoughtless, to grow into the cracks of a place like a weed and not a wildflower.
The second phase of adjustment to expat life has been harder. Little things, differences I once found charming, irritate me or depress me. Turns of phrase I’ve picked up sound fake wrapped in my accent. Running, once a joy, has become a chore. My creative life is clogged, hunched around a few untidy drafts that shake off revisions like a damp dog. This is all exacerbated by the end of winter, which is going out not with a bang or a whimper but a fifty-foot billboard, a white-tie gala, an open-heart surgery, a not-to-be missed affair attended by its starkest clouds holding something more final than snow.
Well, my participation in Holidailies wasn’t very participatory this year. No matter. I’d trade a million journal entries for the December I’ve had. Right now I am feeling low, post-commencement and post-vacation whirlwind, and more than a little homesick. While in Chicago, my mom and I shared a treat of Whole Foods’ curried chicken salad. FunkyPlaid and I used to get this from the deli counter, and I had forgotten how much I love the taste.
Maybe it was my heart. No, my heart was there, for a time, spread out in beating chunks across the hills and Muni lines and friends and restaurants and libraries and moments I thought I would never survive and the moon so full reflected on Ocean Beach. San Francisco, you taught me what it meant to expect beauty down every little alleyway, to believe in magic because living without it is dying a little every day.