Monday, August 13, 2007

This is not my home

I've been feeling sorry for myself lately.

My parents are moving to the U.S. soon and while I can't wait to have them close by again, I can't help but think about all the things that I will miss about being able to go home, to Budapest.

I will not miss the expensive plane tickets and the fact that we only see each other once a year. But I will miss the excitement of planning to go home, the nervous wait for our luggage at the Budapest airport, the rush of seeing Mom, Dad, and Grandma waiting in the crowds. I will miss the cramped ride home in my parents' Skoda - my Mom playing with my ear - and I will miss seeing how much things have changed on the streets of Budapest and how things have stayed the same.

I will miss our old, cold, crumbling apartment building. I will miss going into my childhood room - the smell of the curtains that my Dad washed the day before, blowing in the wind and the sound of the trolley cars on the street below. I will miss feeling so big in a room that used to seem much larger when I was little. I will miss my Dad making a celebratory batch of Wiener schnitzel and my Grandma's hands uncovering a plate of apple pie. I will miss the fact that we barely fit into our kitchen and that I have to sit on the little red stool, shoved between my Dad and brother.

In the larger scheme of life, all of this seems petty of course. I know that. But as I am getting ready to make great, new memories with my parents here, in Maine, I can't help but finally grieve for what I've left behind. Even though I left Budapest more than 12 years ago now, this is the first time that I realize the magnitude of that step. And it sucks.

When I tell Drew that I want to go home, he always says "but this is your home," meaning our little apartment where we've made our nest for the past four years.

But he is wrong.

It's a house, it's a life, it might even be happiness. But this is not my home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My inheritance

There is an ongoing joke in my family about what my brother and I have inherited from our parents – all the “bad” stuff. I got my Mom’s big, crooked nose and big belly and butt, and my Dad’s thin hair. My brother also got the thin hair – along with thinning hair – and some of the indecisiveness that is prevalent in my family. Although he takes it to whole new levels – but that is another story.

My parents often say that when they die, we will not inherit a house, or cash, or valuable antiques. So we should appreciate the nose and the belly and the hair.

Growing up, I was not grateful for this sort of inheritance – I wanted a graceful, small nose, a slender figure and lush hair. I had a boyfriend who would tell me that I could never be his wife if I ended up looking like my Mom in my old age.

He need not worry about that.

What I worried about as a teenager was becoming like my Mom on the inside – she was strict and no-nonsense and she had a weird talent of knowing exactly what I was thinking and doing at all times. By the time I came home from school, she already knew that I bombed on my history exam. It was all very uncool.

But of course, life has its funny ways, and I find myself becoming more and more like my parents. I cry during commercials, I tell Drew to put his hat and gloves on when it’s cold outside, and I always cook way too much food. I can only imagine what else I will say and do when I have kids that will make me stop in my tracks and realize that I am just like my Mom.

The nose, the butt, and the belly are still in place but I have a friendlier relationship with them these days. Looking at some old family photos recently, I noticed a picture of my great-grandmother as a young woman wearing a fabulous hat, and she had the exact same profile as mine and my Mom’s. My Mom’s soft hug makes me hopeful that one day my curves will provide the same comfort.

I am more aware of other resemblances too and I treasure them more than I used to. I have my Dad’s warm, melancholic eyes, his sarcastic humor, his long fingers – so does my brother. I also inherited my Mom’s go–getter attitude and strength and ability to do 20 things at the same time. I also have her impatience and my Dad’s ability to laugh at the same impatience.

I can just look in the mirror and know exactly where I came from. In the end, that’s a pretty good inheritance.