Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'd like a Tim Horton's Bagel Please.

Last night Mark and I went out to a pub for dinner with our friend Jonny and his Mom. Jonny and Mark both ordered 'Steak on the Rocks.' It comes just like it sounds. You get a platter with a salad and a portion of chips (french fries) on either side of a piece of marble hot enough to cook a steak. It comes out sizzling and spitting and you cook your steak to the desired done-ness. I didn't order this as any meat that I eat has to be cooked until there is no resemblance what so ever to anything that was ever alive. Ethically I am so very close to being a vegetarian, but my tastebuds are weak. (I like the hamburger - don't want to meet the cow.)

One interesting side effect of the smoky bar and the cooking meat was the wave of nostalgia it caused. When I got home I was changing into my pajamas and as I pulled my shirt off I had the most intense memory of my Oma and Opa's house. When we went to Oma's for dinner she almost always made roast beef, boiled potatoes, beans, and jus (thin gravy.) Both of my grandparents and a few of my aunts and uncles smoked. This combination of the smells of cooked beef and cigarette smoke brought me straight to her house last night. To anyone else that scent might be terrible, but I had to sniff my shirt several times before putting it in the wash. It was nice to think about those times.

I'm feeling a little bit homesick today. Jonny lost his Dad recently and Mark and I weren't able to be here for him over that awful time. The only trouble with living somewhere that isn't where you are from is that you are always missing things. You miss people's weddings and funerals and babies being born. You miss spending ordinary time with people too. Sometimes your friends forget about you. Life goes on in both places whether you are there or not.

Don't get me wrong, I love living here and I love both of my homes. I love that my life is unusual and that I followed my heart. Sometimes I just wish I could twiddle my nose and be home for a minute or two. For anyone else who is an 'ex-pat' you should check out Isabel Huggan's book, Belonging: Home Away from Home. It really captures the experience.
(I'm homesick for a country that has stores like this???)

On a different note, I thought I would try to channel some of my weird energy into doing some artwork. I went to Illustration Friday and looked at the word for this week. It's Glamour. Huh. Glamour? As I sit here in my pajamas, sipping nettle tea I wonder what I can say toward that subject. Glamour? Me? The girl who sat next to 'Steak on the Rocks' last night? Maybe I will just wait for the next 52 Figments assignment and do that first! I think 'Glamour' might be be too deep an end to jump into.


Jamie said...

Hey, Meg,

Send me your address, and I'll mail you some Tim Hortons coffee! (I don't think a bagel would stand up to the mailing!)

Marie said...

I really liked your dream of being able to just pop back home for a visit - it resonated with me in a big way. It can be really difficult to be away at times and the urge for familiarity is intense. It's incredible how something small or random like a smell can set these thoughts of homesickness in motion and how they can wash over you at unexpected times.

I am going to try and get hold of the book you recommended. Another book that captures the expat dilemma is Sarah Turnbull's Almost French. I read it three years ago while at a particularly difficult point and it helped me to focus more on the good things in my life here, even though Sweden did not feel like "home".

chest of drawers said...

My equivalent of a Tom Horton bagel is a packet of Tim Tams. My mum sends me some every now and then but they never last for long. The taste of them, even just the smell, sends me back to Bondi, sitting in my first own flat eating Tim Tams on the balcony and watching the world go by.

Alexandra S said...

Hi there Megg,
I definitely know what it feels like to bare the longing for home, familar smells and tastes, and just a brief hug from family when you are creating a new life so far away. I moved to Bulgaria for two years when I was 26 and I was often in this tug o war between the parts of me that cherished where I was, and the other parts that simply could not let go of what was before. It was worst when I started idealizing my life back in the States. The great thing is that Canada will always be there and you can go back to visit or live again. But clearly magic and wild creating are afoot where you are now, and I look forward to reading all about it as you continue this chapter of your life. Thank you for another wonderful post!

Jamie said...

Hey, Meg,

Thanks for your post and the recommendation for Balzac's. I haven't been there yet, but that's the second recommendation I've gotten this week! I'll have to check it out!