Moving Home

I have returned to my parents home. I have moved all my books, clothing, artwork, half knitted scarves and various kitchenware from my cozy space in Northampton to my parents’  living room floor. From the floor, the stuff has moved to the couch and into  large bins and  smaller bins that are stacked one on top of each other in the hallway of the narrow second floor hallway. I have inserted myself back into the home where I grew up in a way that feels strange and strangely familiar. IMGP2892

And to their credit, both my parents have let me slide back into their world without a fuss. In our family puzzle, my own multi-sided piece fits back in with minimal wedging of grooves and notches. I would be lying if there weren’t disagreements at the dinner table or prolonged silences in the car. I do not pretend that our little yellow house is absolute bliss from sunup to sundown. But I appreciate the extent to which both my mother and father have gracefully accepted the immediate and lasting presence of their unemployed 24 year old daughter back under their roof. [And if they have begun the countdown, it’s 3 weeks and 5 days.]

How often to we treat those closest to our hearts with indifference and exasperation? The rivers of tolerance and grace, which flow from us so willingly with strangers and acquaintances, run dry as soon as we step over the WELCOME mat of our own homes. Those who deserve the most kindness and love  seem to pull the short stick and our shorter temper. The people I care the most about are the people who accept me for my imperfect but truest self. But is my truest self unkind and condescending? I think not.

So I’ll try to take a deep breath before I speak. Treat my parents and my loved ones with the respect they deserve instead of taking their love and support for granted. Transcend daily disagreements. This continued process is one that I am working on every day. Every. Single. Day.

Thanks Mom and Dad.


Blast from the Past Revisited

Tomorrow I will begin Week #4 in the Philippines. As my host dad likes to exclaim, “Holy Cow!”

I arrived back in Manila last night, exhausted and honored to be part of the first ever Road Revolution. There is nothing like seeing a multi-lane road, usually congested with air pollution and traffic, filled with longboarders, families biking and runners streaming past in flocks. I was amazed by the turnout and support of the thousands of petition signers and various organizations. And here I am at Week 4. The last time I arrived in Manila airport was a Tuesday in May, time zones away from the US, I thought as I munched dried mango slices on my way to the airport. What do they say about time flying?

But the theme about time moving and catching up with us doesn’t just apply to my trip to Cebu. It also applied to my father and his recent discovery of an old acquaintance. That is the way it is with parents. Moments before you label your father’s travel stories as crazy and far-fetched, something happens that forces you to reconsider.

When my father traveled to Cebu as a young man, he met a man named Stu Gould. Stu was a diver like my father and the two of them enjoyed many fond memories on the beaches of the Philippines. When I told my parents I would be spending a week in Cebu, he googled “Stu Gould” and e-mailed a man with the same name, who currently owned a resort in a similar place to where they had met. My father wrote about the Stu he knew, how he collected tropical fish, was an ex British Diver and had (at the time) been living in Cebu for a short while.

“We lived in a small cabin on the water, dove a lot, almost lost a young British Diver and had to ship him up to Subic for decompression and took a ride down to Mindano to look at a gold mine.” my father wrote. “If this the Stu Gould, how the heck are you.”

Was this new Stu Gould, the mystery man of the past? I was skeptical at best. My father would probably see my eyes rolling from across the ocean. That was years ago. It’s impossible. I’ll be believe it when I see it. 

And I did see it, in the form of a response e-mail the same day:

“Hi Ken! Long time no hear! Yes it is I Stu Gould,” it read followed by a nice description of the last 30+ years detailing Stu’s return to the UK, birth of his 4 kids, and decision to build and run the Granada Beach Resort now 100 km south of Cebu. He personally invited me to take dive lessons and spend time at the resort during my travels throughout the Philippines. Go figure.

 Lesson: The next time your father tells you he may have recovered a long lost British diving friend from the small island of Cebu in the Philippine archipelago, just believe it. He’s probably telling the truth.

Car-less Osmena Boulevard