Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adventures in Fatherland

When visiting a culture different from our own, we open ourselves up to the phenomena called "Culture Shock." This fish out of water feeling can emerge as a subtle discomfort, a fascination, or(in its most severe form) a slap in the face challenging our basic understanding of reality. Though the term is mostly used when speaking of visiting foreign places... far away and distant lands only traveled to by plane, or train, or boat, or automobile (or hot air balloon, spaceship, hover craft, you get the gist)...I have found I suffer culture shock much closer to home.

He puzzles me, this constant companion who helps raise the children. I watch him at the kitchen table going over spelling words. He is strict, and effective. I keep waiting for him to kick back and give up, to smoke a cigarette and plan his escape. This one doesn't smoke. (anymore... he quit when he became a father, go figure. It's weird here, I told you!)

When he tells us he's going out to get some milk, he comes back with it. Imagine! We don't have to drive around all night looking. And then? And then he does the most amazing thing. He drives back into the driveway, walks into the house, and puts the milk away in the refrigerator. Brilliant!

I am confused and moved by the things my children say in this fatherland place: "Daddy will fix it." and "Daddy will know." and the ever confounding "Tell daddy!" when something exciting happens. Tell daddy? Is there a daddy here to tell? Oh, yes, I forgot.

Perhaps the thing that still makes me question the reality of my situation, are the thunderstorm nights when the children come into bed and want him, not me. Apparently fathers in fatherland have super anti lightning force fields. AND THEN when they fall fast asleep in his safe arms, I watch with a stupid and slack expression as he picks them up and carries them back to their rooms and they throw their little arms around his neck and he kisses their heads. Let's be clear, these actions are not for my benefit, they seem to come from a place of... love and responsibility, or love of responsibility. It confounds me. I swear. I feel so lost.

I didn't live here. Fatherland was a foreign place that I thought and was taught was filled with smelly socks and too much dreaming to stay. Fatherland was sold to me as a damaged place, Chernobyl like, a myth... an unattainable destination. And who would want to visit anyway?

How wrong we were! I feel out of place here, that's for sure, but the scenery! My god, the view. Do visit. It's one of those places that makes you call a real estate agent. Can I have a timeshare? A condo? Can I stay?

"I love you." he said and meant "it will be you first, forever, all about you."
"I love you." I said and wondered if love would ever mean constancy.

"I do." he said and meant forever.
"Me too." I said and wondered how long it would take for him to leave.

He doesn't seem to have a fleeing spirit.

In fatherland, vows mean something. Crazy. I guess it's up to me to try and conform. I'm outnumbered anyway. And like I said, though strange, it's growing on me.

I'm only glad I didn't know the truth when I was small. It might have broken me. There is a time and place for ethnocentrism, that's for sure.

I grew up in "itiswhatitisland" and I waited for my father person everyday. He didn't come. For that reason and because it is only natural to want better for our children, I'll make a go of this fine country. So far everyone has been very welcoming and eager to teach me the language.

Oh, and I LOVE the food.


  1. This is so beautiful and made me emotional. I don't have anything else to say really, but I love this. The concept of forever baffles me, but then again, a lot does.

  2. I was blessed and fortunate enough to be brought up by both my mother and father. As I read your post I realized I took it for granted, I thought everyone had a father who loved them, who could fix everything and make all the wrongs right.
    You have done well my friend, expressing feelings that you have learned through the love of the father of your children. May you always know the safety and comfort of the country you now live in......:-) Hugs

  3. So poignant, so lovely, so true. Once again, you've got to the heart of it and touched mine. Thanks.

  4. I cannot believe how beautifully you've captured my exact feelings. You consistently suprise me but always delight me. Thank you.

  5. This is a beautiful post. I'm sure you will gets loads of feedback to that effect but I just wanted to chip in to say that I loved it. Perfectly put without an ounce of schmaltz.

  6. This is a wonderful post. Apparently you knew something for you chose the perfect partner on this journey.

  7. Eloquent, sweet, loving. A gift to the father, thanking him for his gifts. Perfect.

  8. A beautiful post! - I am a new reader here but just wanted to tell you that I love the way you write and am so glad to have discovered your blog.

  9. Sarah: so much for my attempt at humor? ;)
    Bernie: Wow! Then I win! Thanks for that.
    Tricia: to touch your heart...thanks for letting me in.
    LT: oh momma we need to sit down with a beer? (tea?) something some day, I bet we'd have a lot to talk about.
    Mr. London: I think... the no schmaltz factor could be the finest compliment I've gotten thus far. I am trying so hard to simplify my writing, keep it clean, tell it how I think it IS. Thanks. Really.
    Busy Bee Suz: OR I was just LUCKY!
    Liza: Thanks! NOW, if he would only read the blog. He is not a fan of reading. go figure right?
    Susannah! welcome. I always wanted to have that name. IF you have time, read the post Crazy Making. I talk all about it!

  10. Suzanne(ah), my goodness again. I could go on forever, but I am in awe how you are able to word weave and share your thoughts. My goodness

  11. Once again I am moved to tears. I grew up in Fatherland and with his 70 bday tomorrow the love I have for him is one drop from spilling all over the place. Your girls are lucky to have you both to learn and love with.

  12. This is so nice!! But I have to tell you - Art said the next time you wrote a glowing review of your husband, he was going to start a new blog called "whatssogreataboutbill.com" and fill it with stupid stories from their youth :)

  13. glnroz: Honored!
    Nicole: Say happy birthday for me. You are a lucky girl!
    Ariana: Let Art know Bill doesn't even read my blog. hasn't read any of my novels, and won't talk about any of it. So the website wouldn't matter, because all he does online is check airfare and pay his bills. ;)

  14. I grew up with a Dad, but he wasn't what you describe in this beautiful post. So happy you chose a man who both loves and honors you and your children. Count your blessings!

  15. Yes, very lovely. Fatherland is a wonderful place, isn't it?

  16. Oh I love fatherland. Can't imagine life without it. I hope you shared this with your husband!

  17. It is a pretty special place isn't it. What would life be without a stretching arm and a lovely smile.

    CJ xx

  18. This is beautiful and moving. Did you share with your Hub? I hope you do. And thanks for sharing with us.

  19. Wow. Your language is so beautiful. The part about knowing the truth would have broke you, goodness. Lucky you to know what you have and to love the having of it.

  20. Goodness, what to say?

    As you know I met my father when I was 16. that's a story for a more private forum...

    I'd love to write about things like this, but it breaks my mother's heart. She is a good woman. Selfish as all get out, but doing her best. She sees my talking about him as her failure. *sigh*

    So, I insist on living in Fatherland. I go to great lengths to make it a happy, stable place where people want to sit down and kick their shoes off.

    Beautiful words here.

  21. Suzanne, Thanks back at you for your comments on my blog today. BTW, my husband doesn't read mine either. ;)

  22. Poignant and well-written. Wow.