The Deep and Meaningfuls

About once every month or two, my phone notifies me of a call coming in as “Restricted.” Under normal circumstances, I would let it run to voicemail, and then delete before listening- as I already know that I don’t have money to pay off whatever collector is ringing. The circumstances here in Australia, though, are far from “normal,” and I answer this call every time.

The voice on the other end of the line is pure Lake Michigan biscuit-sopped gravy and sweet honey sunshine lilting “Heeey, Leanne” through the line, and before she can say “this is D*,” I’ve cut her off with an excited greeting.

D* was one of the first people we met in Australia, and I have mentioned her in this blog before. But, she warrants more than just a passing glance. Though we’ve only seen each other in person once, our conversations are what she calls “deep and meaningfuls” and have more than once pulled me out of a deep funk.

She came to Australia over twenty years ago, also as a first generation student, also as the first in her family to live abroad. We talk about everything from beloved US foods (Frito-Lay barbecue corn chips for her, collard sandwiches for me) to alienation, family dynamics, and how- even after twenty years- you’ll never fully ‘fit in” to a transplant culture. D* works in transcultural mental health- with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers- so I listen carefully to her wisdom and try to recall her words when I commit (frequent, embarrassing) faux pas.

But I’m not a charity case for her. It’s an even exchange. She often remarks on how refreshing it is to hear my American candour and openness. Even by US standards, though, I’m a bit much- and that sometimes weirds up otherwise comfortable exchanges. I don’t do small talk well, and tend to bring up topics that some shy away from. I’ve reached a point in my life where I no longer try to cover up my past and just spill truth everywhere. And I’ve found that this makes me a “safe person” to talk to. Strangers and friends tell me about things that no one else knows. D* says she’s attracted to that in me, and has shared the thorns and blooms of her own past. She knows that I get it. Despite our differences in age and race, many of our experiences are similar, and we are very much alike on a personal level.

D* called yesterday while I was entertaining myself by wallowing in boredom, loneliness, and a weird combination of hopeful despair. We talked about that, about both world and personal issues, and we talked about paths- the funny desire lines that get us from place to place without following the clearly laid paths. And I felt a lot better. I even vacuumed the house afterward. And I hate vacuuming.

My phone rarely rings these days- WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook messenger being the way I communicate with most folks now. And no matter what I am doing- be it sitting in class, grocery shopping, or busying myself being miserable- I always answer. The caller ID says “Restricted,” but I know there are no limits to where the calls will take us.

Writing on Paper

The thick muscle that keeps the thumb from running away from my palm cramped up yesterday, and a hard knot started to reform on the side of my second-finger’s knuckle. These are familiar discomforts. When I was young, there would be days that my right hand simply stopped working altogether out of exhaustion. I don’t know that my children have ever experienced this- despite the fact that O is becoming nearly an avid a writer as myself.

I have been remiss in updating this blog, but not because I haven’t been writing- in fact, I have been writing more even than my usual (which is an amount that borders on pathological)- I’ve just moved back to paper now. This is for a number of reasons, but mostly because my scrubby little notebooks are lighter and more portable than a laptop, and cheaper to replace when if I drop it. Okay, and also- because I don’t feel like such a douchebag cozying up with one in a public place as I do with a computer. There, I said it. I think

I would say something here about authenticity and “connecting with place” or blah blah blah things I keep seeing in articles that come across *ahem* my Facebook feed (irony, no?), but that wouldn’t be accurate.
True, I wouldn’t miss it if I lost it- this woozy glow of the computer screen. A lot of people feel trapped by the tractor-beam of technology, laughing at ourselves as we compulsively check our phones. It has become a necessary part of my daily life- emails, assignments, keeping up with family and friends abroad- I don’t hate it, but do grow weary of it sometimes.

But, I made a promise to myself that I would update this blog regularly (well- I thought it would be weekly but- HA!- nope) and so I will be working to move my pen & ink scribblings to this digital format over the next few days. If you subscribe, you may want to turn notifications off, because I’m about to blow it up.