Bon: you spent your youth in the old country, and yet most of your adult life in the US...what does the word "home" mean to you, and evoke for you?
At some point in college I realized that I meant many things by the word home. When I was on campus, I could talk about going home to visit my parents, even though I never actually lived in their house, as they moved into that house, the one they inhabit still (post extensive renovations now, and much much nicer for it) the weekend after I left for college. When I was there, going home was back to campus. Talking to friends after class, going home was to my dorm, which was a community dorm, with shared cooking responsibilities, for example, so it was, in fact, much like family. I love The Old City, and this past May I was hungry to breathe its air, anxious for the moment it would open in front of me, the moment that was nice enough to play out just so, just as I needed it to, to fill my sight with green, to inflate and intoxicate me. Our stay in The Old City was amazing, and all of us could've easily used another week or three there. But it was no longer my home. Neither was it Monkey's although she took to it naturally, as if a long-idling genetic memory had been activated. My home is here, in this City, the one I made my own, where we are surrounded by friends, where we have grown so much as people, as friends, as parents, and as professionals, the city where both my children where born, where my son is buried. This is home. And our little house, the one we are desperately outgrowing, if only because we are blessed with so many friends here that it is tough to have even a reasonable subset over at the same time, this little house is home.
Bon: if you had 24 hours entirely to yourself, and money, fears, and travel time were no object, where would you go and what would you do with that 24 hours?
This is tough. The thing I would love to do if money was no object is not a one day thing. Although I could be done in 24 hours, that would not be the objective of the exercise. See, if money was no object, I would love to play one of the big poker tournaments, the ones with entry fees of $10,000 or so. I'd love to see how long I can last, who I can outplay, who I can outbluff, who I can outlast. This fantasy not fitting this particular question is ok, though, because one day I hope to have enough time and determination to win my way into one of these tournaments, and then I won't have to stick with 24 hours. Hopefully.
But if I had only 24 hours, I think I would pick Aruba or Cozumel for a day of diving complete as it always is with the salty dry mouth I get as I start the dissent, but forget about as soon as the first angel fish goes by, only to be hit with it big time when I resurface. Diving requires full attention-- one must be aware of one's equipment and one's surroundings at all times, but it also gives back fully, turning off three of the senses completely or nearly so (seeing as the water turns off the smell and nearly all sound, and that the regulator in one's mouth isn't much to write home about in the taste department), soothing the tactile with the full immersion, and blasting the sight, overwhelming it with the colors, she shapes, the movement, or the stillness. If you ever had a pack of moving color that is tropical fish swim close enough to you that you should've been able to touch at least one, but of course you never get to because they are fish and you are a mere tourist, a curiosity, an oversized loud breather bubblemaker, you know what I mean. And if you then happened upon a resting nurse shark, all six feet of it laying completely motionless in that perfect spot where the current is strong enough to supply it with the oxygen by moving through its gills, motionless that is except for those rhythmically moving gills and the cleaner fish busily at work, well, then you know exactly what I mean. After the dives, melon and joshing on the boat, and then a few of those fruity drinks complete with umbrellas, a good book, and a hammock hung under a nice shady tree would round out that me day pretty well. Of course, if there was a poker game nearby that night I wouldn't say no.
Bon: if you could go back and talk to yourself at 21, what would surprise the younger you the most about the life you're living and the person you've become?
I think it would have to be my career trajectory. That I am not a bench scientist, that I am not in fact a professor. On reflection, though, she would get it. Education was something that attracted me even when I was very young. She would get mad that I had to make the choice, but she would like what I've done with it. She would not be surprised by the kind of mom I am, I think. Well, maybe a little by how easy it is for me to tell my daughter how much I love her-- it's never been easy for me to say it to anyone else. Yes, even JD. She would be sad to know that something has been lost in the relationships with some of my very important friends, and maybe given enough warning she wouldn't make the mistakes I made that led there. She would be happy to know it's better now than it was a few years back.
Bon: you've suffered the shock and grief of losing A, and you've written recently about the challenges you're facing having another child. if a genie granted you three wishes, but these could only impact the future and not the past, what would you wish for?
Two more healthy babies. I feel like this is very greedy of me, so it has to count for two of the three wishes. I would gladly do my time through those high risk pregnancies if I could be sure I would be taking my babies home in the end. But we all know that-- if only that could be a guarantee...
As for the third wish, I am torn. I have wanted for a long time to open a school. We tried, unsuccessfully, for political and technical reasons, to do it before. The easiest way to make it happen would be with a large pile of money. The kind of pile one could get by, for example, winning a major poker tournament. Or from a genie. I am torn, though, because I would also want to wish for some healing for my mother. She is not doing well, and the way she is choosing to deal is not at all helpful for our relationship, or even for her own mental state.
Bon: what three qualities do you most hope Monkey inherits or learns from you, and what three from her father? are there any in either family that you desperately hope skip a generation?
The skipping generation one is easy. In fact, I wish it would go the way of the mammoth-- very very extinct. JD is not so good with disappointment or significant change of plan. Especially when he is tired. And when he gets into that state, you can feel it from across the room-- the vibe he puts out is very on edge, very prickly, very buzz kill. We are also, neither of us, particularly compulsive about keeping our living quarters clean. She should be better at it, although so far, no dice. She could also do with less stubborn than either of us are, but I think that ship's sailed quite a while ago.
The good ones. Let's see. I am not so good with slow and steady where the school work or even work work (or blog posting, ha!) is concerned. I procrastinate. JD though is great with it. She should get that from him. We both cook well, but in different ways. I am better with more complicated things, like dinners of many dishes, all tasty, some of them very nontrivial to produce. JD is more of a quick and dirty, apply principles of chemistry to your cooking kind of a guy. He is the king of grill and, in particular, steak and kabobs around here. She should get both of those inclinations. I have to believe she would have to beat men off with a stick if this should come to pass, right? She should also definitely get JD's athletic abilities rather than mine. I do ok once my muscles know and remember what I need them to do. This is why my swimming form is still very good. But that time required for something to travel from my brain to my muscles, the ability to learn a new athletic skill? Oy, just major oy. For example, when I want to learn something new or improve something about my skiing, I ask JD to show me, and then I tell him to go away and come back in about an hour or more. I spend that time crossing the bridge from understand in my head to make my body do. Very sad. But Monkey does seem to be more JD-inclined with this, if her gymnastics, and last Sunday's performance in soccer are any indication. From me she should definitely get my ability to roll with the punches. Comes in handy. And stamina. Life-wise, 'cause sports-wise: see above.