In 26 more days, I will mark the first anniversary of my arrival back to the Old Country--it has no real significance except as a measuring stick of what changes have come as a result, how I live, what I've accomplished.
I look at the place where I live, which has less furniture than when I first moved in. Except for the little Pullman kitchen set in the middle of one wall, it could be one of my starter apartments in Thailand, except there I always had a bed. Here, after my bedbug invasion, I sleep Thai-style on a mat that I roll up during the day. I call it my burrito bed.
I have a work table, a few cushions on the floor and a TV/DVD player for watching movies. A scrounged bookcase holds the few books that I keep--most of them I give away after I've read them. As far as comfort goes. my Thai apartment on Chokchai Ruammit wins hands-down--but buying furniture in Thailand is much easier than it is here (http://tonedeafinthailand.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-to-buy-sofa-in-bangkok.html) In Seattle I fall apart at the thought of a delivery truck that might harbor bedbugs--yes admittedly I'm quite neurotic about this possibility.
I think of the people who prompted my move back and feel grateful that I was able to return to them. My sons are men who are pure joy to spend time with and I don't take that privilege for granted. The people they love and live with are generous and smart women who have made a space for me in their lives and that is a huge gift.
Friends? I learned long ago that upon returning after a long absence, some friends become acquaintances and some acquaintances become good friends. Making new friends for me has always been a byproduct of my workplace and working at home has put a large crimp in that. But I'm lucky that there's a large pool of creative and interesting people in this city--that is a major Seattle asset that makes it a place I can live in without clawing at my throat.
On the downside, I became addicted to travel in my three years away and have done far too little of that since I returned. My fault, I think--and the newly established Bolt Bus is a good reason to get out of town often. And I have plane tickets for Hong Kong and Bangkok to be used in a couple of months, which is still hard for me to believe.
On a balance the pluses of the past almost-year outweigh the minuses of grey gloom and persistent chill. Overall I'm lucky to have a place that always offers me a space where I can live and work. Had I not returned, some of the events of the past eleven months might have demolished me and it's certain that I wouldn't have had the perspective that would allow me to write my second book. When I whine about the weather and the dull streets of this city, it's only for a hiccup or two. I'm ready to sign up for another year--thank you for letting me come back to this party.