Sunday, May 17, 2009
I have this friend in the States, I've known her a long time. She's wealthy by any standard and whenever I'm with her I have this sense of it, from her really nice cars to terrific clothes to fancy house and private schools. It's like a spa retreat, visiting this friend. She's unaware of her largess mainly because she's never been accustomed to anything different. Her life is all she knows and it's basically what she expects.
Here we live in a house that is below the standard of normal or even below below normal in the States. There isn't a housing inspector in the US that wouldn't cite this place for a variety of codes, from the holes in the roofing to the termites out of control to the broken this or that or whatever else. I am not saying I am entirely digging this, in fact some days it's nearly too much. But this is life here and our house is not as nice as some but nicer than most.
On one of my worse days I was complaining about our stove, a stove that has no temperature control in the oven and needs to be lit with a lighter every time. The stove that runs out of propane in the middle of dinner. Beyond the rickety status of things it's filthy, it was in this house when it flooded and here it remains, a battered thing like no oven I've ever seen before I moved here. So I was on a rant to J, taking stock of all I found unbearable in some sort of roundabout effort to convince him we should spring for a new one, it'll still be the same size but it'll work and it won't be so, well, gross. A friend of ours from the village was here when we were talking about it and he chimed in too, yes see you can get a new one in town. And maybe if you do you can give this one to my mom, because our stove isn't as nice as this.
And in that moment I, like my friend in the States was largely unaware of her largess. I am like my friend living there but living here, with my high standards and supposed expectations, of my discomforts unbearable and yet completely without a clue about how much of the world goes around. I'd feel even more ashamed of this if I wasn't at least trying but in so many ways it makes me want to try a little more. Because at the end of the day the damn stove works, it works and I use it and I cook my family dinner on it and it often sucks but it works and no one is getting poisoned and no one is going hungry and that should be enough right there.