Another country

April 15th, 2008

One of the things I tell people when I give talks (which, hint hint, I do whenever and wherever I’m asked) is that when we are still and quiet for just a few minutes in this pesky “now” it feels like a foreign country. A foreign country we are desperate to get out of. There are always newer, ultra high-speed ways to get out of this unfamiliar country and so we keep heading across the border, spinning this way and that and complaining of the bad food and long layovers in-between.

These days I feel a bit as though I am in a foreign country. Certain certainties behind me, and certain uncertainties before me. I am not trying to get out, in fact, I’m quite comfortable that I cannot leave, but I can notice the native soil beneath me.

Last week my dog Molly had surgery to rebuild her ruptured cranial cruciate ligament. We were eager and ready to do this, and eager and ready to bring her home. And now that she’s here I realize I will be too for some time. The recuperative instructions are clear and emphatic: two months in confinement, another two months in incrementally longer walks; assistance here, watchfulness there, judiciousness here there and yonder. This is the kind of circumstance that adds sudden clarity to the fuzzy wondering of what in the world will we do over summer vacation.

While Molly was at the hospital, I spent several nights with my sister, she of the still-broken wrist and ankle. She is every day more agile and resourceful making do with her intact left side, which I imagine to be like learning to drive on the opposite side of the road. Her doctors believe she will be back together at month’s end and although she can’t yet subscribe to that theory I’m sure that she will, if only because as soon as we adapt to the unadaptable, time’s up.

The visit with my sister coincided with the happy occasion of spending two days in Orange County, which never needs a happy occasion for hordes to consider it the happiest place on earth. I spoke at a conference of preschool directors, teachers and parents from across California. When I get to do something like this, which is too seldom for my insatiable ego, it is magical and uplifting for me, me who otherwise sits in confinement next to my sad dog with an ignoble plastic cone encircling her head. It is uplifting because it affirms once more that we have one life, one struggle, one place and one heart. If any of the wonderful people I met should find themselves here – or find themselves anywhere, for that matter – I do hope that they will speak up and say hello.

That’s all that we travelers can do in foreign countries. Make ourselves and each other at home.


  1. I’m glad Molly made it through the surgery and I’m sure she’s going to enjoy all the extra attention and treats. 🙂

    Comment by Shannon — April 15, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  2. saying hello.
    I’m grateful to be at home with you here.

    Comment by bella — April 15, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

  3. Maybe we can play online checkers or something while we tend to our needy beings …

    Glad she’s doing OK!

    I’m definitely in a foreign country, as you’ve pointed out. I have been feeling that more and more lately … like when Liana stuffs her entire mouth with all of the snack so that her sister can’t even get one morsel.

    No hablo toddler.

    Comment by Shawn — April 16, 2008 @ 1:41 am

  4. Glad your doggy is on the road to recovery…

    Comment by Shelli — April 16, 2008 @ 2:12 am

  5. I love to travel, to see new things, to meet new people. But that journey definitely becomes uncomfortable and cumbersome when the new things are the reality of my now and the new people are me and those around me. But maybe I can learn to open myself to such a foreign land…

    Comment by Jennifer/The Word Cellar — April 16, 2008 @ 5:15 am

  6. Peace to you as you sit with Molly during her confinement and as you find new ways to be free while doing so. May your mind and spirit wander freely and grow wildly as your body stays put. And may you have many, many more sweet dreams.

    Comment by GailNHB — April 16, 2008 @ 11:19 am

  7. Big hug.

    Comment by Kristin H. — April 16, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  8. Great post, and uncanny timing since I just wrote about the fact that I, indeed, do live in the happiest place on earth! (far from Orange County, but close to my heart…)

    Yes, for me stillness is sometimes more scary/bewildering than finding oneself lost in an unfamiliar town where no one speaks your language…

    Comment by Lana — April 16, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  9. Way to long since I’ve left a comment. I hope Molly is feeling better soon and you can easily incorporate this new caretaking job into your life. I just got a wonderful doggy from the pound and our Hannah has had one thing after another. The family loves her and she’s quite endearing, but…still, taking care of her sometimes feels like one more thing on my list. I know you’ll find the love to float you through.
    BTW…my daughter’s name is Molly and she loves that so many dogs are named after her!

    Comment by spielbee — April 16, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

  10. Poor Molly! And, poor you! I hope that both of you survive her recuperation without going batty.

    Comment by Mama Zen — April 16, 2008 @ 9:15 pm

  11. It can sure be an awkward and unpleasant land, but the flowers and clouds must be seen – the heart is shattered over and over again.

    Rapid as possible recovery to all loved ones,


    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — April 16, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

  12. Ah yes, a foreign land.

    We are here where the weather is still chilly and rainy, where the hostesses still ask “smoking or non”, where there are ash trays at the mini-golf course. We are here, where after a visit to a potential new school, my son told us, “I don’t want to go to a school with dark brown people.” Ouch. Oy vey. Ay, carrumba. Where did that come from? Then there is the foreign land of motherhood-at-home, as I now practice it. I like the description. I am in foreign lands.

    Wishing Molly a speedy recovery and the rest of you patience.

    Comment by RocketMom — April 17, 2008 @ 4:27 am

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