Thursday, February 5

My heart keeps open house

I finished The Namesake the other night. I was happy just to finish a book, but finishing it left me strangely ... incomplete. The writing was crisp and sometimes moving, but it kept a careful distance. One of the only truly notable passages for me was a description of the mother, now that she'd come to a new stage in her life: "In her life, Ashima has lived in only five houses: her parents' flat in Calcutta, her in-laws house for one month, the house they rented in Cambridge, living below the Montgomerys, the faculty apartment on campus, and lastly, the one they own now. One hand, five houses. A lifetime in a fist."

"A lifetime in a fist" stuck with me. It truly is just an eloquent turn of phrase, but it made me pause -- because I have lived in more places than I can count on one hand, or even two. We moved around quite a lot when I was a kid (Toledo, Columbus, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Fairborn again, Pittsfield, Orono, Billerica), and I know it changed who I am. I learned how to make friends quickly, but also how to be alone. I learned to adapt to my environment, but also how to hide who I was. What I regret from all that movement is how quickly I learned not to let people get to know me. I didn't make close friends because I was sure to be moving again in another year. I've gotten over that, to some extent, now that I am in control of where I live, and for how long. But a reserve remains, a wariness that if I actually love you, I will only have to pick up and move on.

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