Saturday, May 15, 2004

Well, I am finally settling in to my parents' place here in the wilds of Ohio, and already my mood is changing from what it was, for the most part, in Youngstown. Even with all the moving out/moving in hassle, even with me and my parents sort of unconsciously negotiating our space and "how things will work" while I'm living here, I'm calmer here, more at ease somehow. I guess it really is home, even though I've had a multitude of problems with the place growing up and even afterwards, when I tried living other places, I found that all of the skills and cultural mindsets I had in place didn't work pretty much anywhere else I went. Luckily the one thing I had that was innate and not culturally instilled was a curiousity to know things other than what a small rural town in Ohio had to offer me, and along with that curiousity, a tolerance for uncertainty and not knowing everything I need right off. Those qualities have served me well so far, and hopefully will continue to do so when I'm in Japan.

Initially my mom and Hobbes the cat were unhappy with each other. My mom assumed he was one of those cats that immediately adapt and like everyone. She assumed he was one of those cats that would immediately take to her, jump in her lap, and love her to pieces. He does this with me. He did not do this with her. He hissed at her a couple times and one morning, attacked her leg when she got out of bed. He had been hiding underneath it, waiting to ambush her. I thought this was hilarious, but my mom starting threatening Hobbes, telling him she wasn't sure if he could live here anymore. The next morning he curled around her legs and acted like a sterotypical lover cat and now he has charmed her back into letting him stay. He just really needed a couple of days to adjust to the new place, and all the new people. Not only does he have to get to know my parents, but also my grandparents, my brothers and sisters in law, my nephew and nieces, all of whome come in and out of the house all day long, since they all live on either side of my mom and dad's place like a clan or something. He's doing well though, considering it had only been him and me since January, with only occasional visitors.

Now my computer is all set up and I'm back in the saddle again. I'm studying Japanese again and now I've got to get writing again.

Oh, and the novel has been sent off to an agent who requested to read it. Hopefully that works out.


Blogger Gwenda said...

Your family's housing situation sounds a lot like mine. My grandmother and my brother and his family both live within about two minutes of my parents' place and are constantly showing up unannounced.

I have a weird feeling about where I grew up too -- I do not think of it as home, but then I also very much do specifically think of my parents' house that way. As if it exists outside the place where it is. I know that my parents will be there as long as they live, and that I can go back there any time and so in some ways tha does make it more home than any of the other temporary places I call home, though they feel more immediately like home. And the really odd thing is, the inside of the house was gutted by fire after I'd moved away for college (while I was on spring break one year actually) and so it's completely different than it was when I was a kid. The spooky room isn't scary anymore. But despite that, it still feels like home, even though in many ways I never even really lived there (in its current state).

Wow, that was confusing.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm drawn to the idea of a rural childhood home with family dropping in all day long. That wasn't my experience, and for all the problems and complications, I imagine a place like that must be very comforting to go back to.

My mother is moving out of my childhood home this summer, and the week after WisCon I'll be flying out to help her pack up. For the past couple months she's been fixing the place up to sell it: pulling up carpets and taking down wallpaper, painting walls in light neutral colors. It's like the memories are being detached one by one as all the old colors and textures get removed. So now any of the old feelings and memories I want to keep, I'll need to carry within myself because the house will no longer be there to hold them for me.

That house was never the best anchor, but I do feel a little more unmoored. It definitely makes me wistful for a place like you and Gwenda describe. In a way, though, it kind of sets me free to focus on my own house as my real home, which is gathering new (much better) memories of its own.

- Karen

12:09 PM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

I totally know what you mean, Gwenda. That's how I feel here too.

And Karen, it really is weird when any place that holds memories for us disappears. It's like a death of sorts, well for me at least. It feels like it to some extent.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Gwenda said...

Hey Karen --

I can completely relate to that too, just from going through the experience of the fire. It completely gutted the house. So even though it still exists, and all the family are still in the same place, it never really felt the same after that. I remember in perhaps too great a detail to be healthy the process of going through with medical masks on and cataloguing all the stuff that got charred (made worse by the fact it was arson, actually). It was a forcible saying goodbye, but a goodbye of sorts. And I think you're looking at things exactly the right way -- you've got your own home now and that's where your heart is, maudlin as it sounds.

6:58 PM  

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