I often reflect on the ways that certain times of my life have so well prepared me for other times, and I've been thinking about it today again, feeling thankful. A part of my brain registers this would be difficult if you weren't already used to it, when I'm going about very normal, but strange, business in this global life.
For example, before we lived in India, we lived in a community on land in Northern California. The first three years of writing at Journey Mama were capturing life in that place in the forest.
(Sidenote: I'll be publishing a compilation of the best of these writings very soon. I was inspired to do so by several people who told me that they read through all of the archives here, and I thought, All that clicking! I should really collect these thousands of words in an easier format. The title of the book is Trees Tall as Mountains, and I hope to show you the cover soon.)
At the Land we had frequent power outages and sometimes we had no water, or we had to be careful of our water (spring-fed) because something funky was in it.
Later, dealing with daily power outs and lack of water in India, I was glad that I had been well trained in the art of being inconvenienced.
In Goa, I often felt like I lived in a fishbowl, because our house was in the middle of a busy fishing village, with people in every direction. I'm glad for all those moments of being stared at, now that we live in this old (gorgeous) house. We live on a oft-traveled street in a two story house. The only stairs to go up or down are on the very front of the outside of the house. There are no indoor stairs. Not only that, but the kitchen is outside, and I have to cross the little courtyard/driveway to get to it. It doesn't have walls, only bamboo which goes about three quarters of the way up on one side, and it is also right on the street.
I can't get from one part of the house to another without seeing people. I walk downstairs and make eye contact, regularly, with passing strangers. I walk to the kitchen and have a conversation with a tourist from Bangkok who wants to know about my kids. I was charmed the other day when a village woman who had seen me once, pregnant, passing on the street, made a beeline to Isaac and I, wanting to know about the birth. (In Thailand, one of the first questions people ask is how you did it. C-section? Or naturally? I think it is an old/new thing. The older generation of women all had babies naturally, but the C-section rate is 90% or something now, so older women especially like to know.)
One man in the neighborhood (He's maybe in his late fifties, and I think he is from Germany, though I haven't asked him) has engaged me in conversation a few times about how much rent we pay for this house. He talks about it loudly, on the street. This makes me very uncomfortable as talk about money= arghh embarrassing, and my neighbors are listening. Sometimes he whistles to get my attention and smiles kindly as he walks by, if I'm cooking in the kitchen.
I was in 7-11 the other day (do you know about Thailand and the ubiquitous 7-11?) and he was in there too, and he smiled at me as I passed him to get my milk. I was just thinking, man, that guy is getting annoying, when he left the store. I was standing in line, waiting to pay, when he popped his head back in the store to talk to me. He had apparently been weighing himself on the one baht scale outside the store. (It plays a little song when you're finished, so everyone around can see that you've been weighing yourself.) "I lost 10 kilos!" he called into the store. "In six months!" And he lifted his fists like someone who's been handed an olympic medal.
I laughed, and then I didn't find him annoying anymore, because quirky oversharing about weight in a public place?= awesome. He went radically up in quirk points. I think we're BFF's now.
Yes, so many things, so many frustrating, wonderful things, have prepared me so well for this public, friendly life I'm now living. I'm glad for all those times in India that I felt like I was living in a fishbowl. They helped prepare me for a time when my kitchen wouldn't have walls and my lower floor would be entirely made of windows.