It is NOLA Bloggers week over at The Rude Pundit.
Over the last few years, a lot of us have learned that “nothing” is what we truly possess. Everything we think we have, everything we think defines us, is ephemera. We are, each of us, alone. We know this now.
Time, place, things, social situations and lifestyle constitute our being as much as air, water, good health and beliefs. So defined, Life #1 ended on August 2nd, 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Life #2 almost ended on August 29th, 2005, but I was lucky enough to come back to it, to come to terms with it. But, things aren’t precisely as they were before. Call this Life #2b then.
Nothing is what we truly possess. This is what I have to remind myself when walking through the house and making a mental account of the sheer amount of stuff I’ve accumulated in the last eighteen years. Where did all of this crap come from and do I really need it? But, all of this crap makes up my home – my possessions placed by me in a spot for which I pay. Is this really home if it can all be taken away by war, theft, wind, fire or a flood? Can my former home really be my home if it no longer exists? What is home?
After the Iraqi invasion and Gulf War, my parents insisted that I study hard, excel at school and, together, we almost drove me to the point of burnout several times. I kept chugging. When I’ve asked my mom what she feels of her post-K(uwait) life, she says, “They can’t take your education and values away from you.” Admirable, but not really comforting enough to be convincing.
D is often the object of my envy, what with his ability to visit the house in which he grew up because his father still lives there. Three generations of his family came into the world in the same damned general hospital, the one in which my godchildren and their parents and their parents and grandparents before them were born. That’s more than a century of place, something I’ve longed for all my life, but D shakes his head when I vocalize these thoughts. “That town is where I grew up, where my family and friends are, but that’s not home. My home is in me, wherever I go. My home is with you.”
Nothing is what we possess. Nothing is what we came in with and nothing is that with which we will leave. Things aren’t people, thank goodness; the people in our lives count the most and we now know and have the ones who came through for us, as we’ve done and would for them. They don’t belong to us, either, but are our most cherished, our mirrors, sometimes merging into our own selves. I was able to start Life #2 with my family intact and Life #2b with my D. Should Life #3 ever become a reality, nothing I have right now would be necessary but the love of family and friends. I must try to remember this when scrambling to pack up everything that will fit in the truck before the next evacuation.
We hope to alleviate one another’s despair. We hope to care enough to stand there and take the punches from our wounded brothers and sisters that are not really meant for us but for “them.” And, in our loneliness, we pray that we will manage to be there to reach out to one another and help hold each other up.
Until the end.