Check out my other blog: Arugula Addict! I'll be writing about my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We Buy Kleenex

Remember? We didn't buy paper towels, we used cloth towels instead. We were really frugal in those years, my mom said as we sat in Souplantation, enjoying the 10th meal out since our holiday had begun two weeks earlier. Yeah, and we didn't buy tissues either, we used toilet paper, my sister chimed in. I buy Kleenex now, I confessed. Me too!, my sister exclaimed.

As a single working woman in her late 30s, I felt it was only appropriate to treat my sore nose with a little tender care so I bought tissues without a second thought. I even stock-piled them so I wouldn't run out. I used them to wipe up spills, dry dishes, clean my mirrors, or any other little task that needed to be done around my spacious ensuite dorm room. Where I lived, tissues were actually cheaper than toilet paper so, yes, while I was continuing the habit of living frugally, I was doing so with balance.

It's funny, the things we change as we grow up, become adults, step outside of one identity and into another, and figure out what's important to us. As a former MK (missionary's kid) who has chosen to continue that lifestyle and live overseas, I find it fascinating to see which habits I've continued and which I've discarded.

Growing up, we never drank Coke or Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Fanta was the soda or fizzy drink of choice until my mother read the ingredients and switched us to Sprite for special occasions only. Several months ago, I had a sip of a friend's Pepsi and realized why it was his beverage of choice whenever we went out. I liked its bittersweet hint of root beer flavour. The next time a friend invited me for lunch, I chose Pepsi when offered a drink and relished the full serving. Surprisingly, I wasn't on a caffeine buzz and decided that its caffeine content, similar to a cup of green tea, didn't affect me like I'd always been told it would. While I'm still hesitant to drink Pepsi, since its sugar content is exorbitantly high, I now know I won't be struck by lightning if I made the choice to drink it.

My mother says we never ate out during those lean money years after the separation when our extra pennies went towards schoolbooks, clothes, and other necessary items. From the moment we started working for our tuition, she made us responsible for our personal expenses including toothpaste and toilet paper, so we couldn't afford to waste money on meals that we could cook for a fraction of the cost at home. Which meant, of course, that we never ordered appetizers. I order appetizers now. I know they are exorbitantly priced for their size but somehow the luxury of being able to afford an appetizer overrides my frugal upbringing in this scenario. I still cringe when the 4 pieces of fake chicken nuggets arrive, as I think about how each 2-inch nugget cost $2 but then I relax and enjoy the previously forbidden treat.

I go to the movies now. When I was 17, the Titanic was released and all my friends were going to watch it. Me, being the daughter of highest authority in the church in the country we were missionaries in at the time, was forbidden from joining my friends to see the PG-13 rated movie. It was not appropriate for a pastor's daughter to go to to the movies, I was told. However, that summer my father told my sister and I, when we were visiting family in England, that he would take us to see the movie as long as we didn't tell our friends back in the mission field. We refused based on principle. In my late 20s I began going to the movies, first to see cartoons such as Ice Age in 3D. Now I go with friends to watch dramas, comedies, true stories, and I no longer enter the screening room with the absurd worry that God will punish me for being in such a place.

It's not that I don't appreciate the principles learned from my experiences in the mission field and after. I've learned to be careful with my money in a healthy way, to practice a healthy lifestyle, to value the important things in life, and to be open to other ways of life. It's just that sometimes I realize that the way things were done before weren't always necessarily the only way. So I buy Kleenex.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Leaving

I have a difficult time with saying goodbye. 18 years ago, I had an evening to say goodbye to my closest friends. It was one of the hardest days of my life. Lebanon had come to take a very special place in my heart and the sudden uprooting due to family circumstances created a fear of leaving that stayed with me through the years.

Tonight, a dear friend texted me from the airport. About to board a last-minute flight, they were saying goodbye. I'd been expecting to see them before they'd left as I too was about to take to the skies, though for much longer as they would be returning next week and I was leaving for a month. In January, when I'd left, I'd made sure to say goodbye to those who were close to me. It was part of the leaving ritual, I realized. Even though I was only gone for 10 days that time, I still had to see each person. I had to reassure my heart that if I didn't return, I would have said goodbye in a way that would allow closure.

As I realized I wouldn't have the chance to give them a hug goodbye, mumble all the usual Take care of yourself while I'm gone, Keep in touch, Yes I have my passport, that were usually exchanged on a sidewalk or at curbside drop off, or pray together for safe travels, the panic returned. A whole month was a very long time. Nearly five weeks. It seemed like a lifetime. Or like a lifetime ago.

I still have to remind myself that this is home now. When I leave, it's just for a short while, and then I will return. It's not half a lifetime ago, I'm not leaving behind everything that meant something to me to try and adapt in a world that often didn't make sense. I'm here.

They say home is about who you share life with more than a physical place. The more places I go and the older I become, the more I see value in this concept. Perhaps each goodbye has represented a leaving of someone who defined a piece of my home and to see them go meant I was now living in what was less than completeness.

Maybe this is the answer then. . .to the leaving or the staying.