22 July, 2015

Stories provide roots

Day by day we're getting more settled. I was looking through recipes that I've collected over the last 15 years this afternoon and exclaimed, 

 A memory from our lounge room: smaller boys wrestling
at a sleepover.
"This is where we've lived our lives, this is where we have the memories, the routines, and the stuff that our Australian friends and relatives have in Australia."

Yes, it is a little bit about stuff. But many of the things we have have memories and stories.

Of the things we have and use in Australia, much of the last 15 years is missing. We have a lot of things that have been given to us and we've used over the last three home assignments. We have some things that we've bought each time too. We also have things that have sentimental value, but they were given to us for our 21st, engagement and wedding: all of which were over 17 years ago. Some of the things we have we bought as new graduates when we were just starting to live independently as adults, but have hardly used since we left in 2000.

Our house and car (it goes from the
telephone pole to the car).
In Japan where we've lived for 12 of the last 15 years, we have all the issues that Australians in Australia have. Stuff that we've grown out of, things that we've worn out (this rarely happens to our stuff in Australia, that is why we're still using 20 year old crystal that looks almost brand new), and many things that have become a part of our family's story.

I think it is the last that is the most telling. Our story. Our story in Australia is missing significant chunks of time. And as humans, much of our story can be told in the things that surround us. 

The desk I'm working at, for example, we've squeezed into various Japanese houses over the last 15 years, in our second apartment it was in our bedroom. I've written thousands of emails and managed a magazine from this desk. I've written teary emails to friends, and celebrated the joy of many Christmas Days while talking to my family over Skype.

My desk and our dining room table.
The dining room table behind me has seen many a meal. Good conversations and meals that have ended in silence and tears. It has a story too, it was given to us by friends when they moved house. At the time they didn't know (or forgot to mention) that it was an extendable table. We were overjoyed to realise that expanded, we could host eight or more people round our beautiful wooden table.

The giant, ancient American oven in my kitchen has only been a part of our story for the last four years. But I've baked a lot of things in it that have been enjoyed by many people. Producing many stories!

So perhaps you can understand that there is a little something missing for us when we spend time in Australia. A rootedness, perhaps. And lot of our story that loses its context when we hopped on an aeroplane.

I can understand how people feel sad when their family home is sold, or when they have to downsize to move into a small unit as older age approaches. Much of what we have isn't valuable. But it has stories.

I'm glad to be back in the place where many of my more recent stories are more easily told and remembered.


-J said...

I understand. And you put it into words beautifully!

Wendy said...

Thanks J. I've been slack at replying to comments here, but I did see your comment and was greatly encouraged by it.