A gustatory diversion as well – – I must really be off my meds – – I am eating nearly my favorite food – – sushi – – on an island (so I assume the fish were recently alive) in Asia! So. Very. Cool. Me in an airport (a spectacular airport – – Changi (Chang-ghee)), eating sushi, writing my sister – – alone and not lonely at all. [end travelogue and food channel] – – re-read to regain continuity . . . Love Letter – – part 4 from the beginning
3/11/13 – – Singapore
It was the work of school that fired my imagination. I loved to read, think, and yes – – write. I loved the stimulation of encountering different better minds. Very early I saw that intelligence was not monolithic. And my desire to succeed had not yet descended into pride. Others did not need to fail for me to succeed. Perhaps that is just the natural history of a grade school achiever. Hopefully it was evidence of the Spirit’s fruit, a fire not yet quenched with the imperative to speak in tongues. So I loved and was loved. Several teachers took an interest in me and gave me appropriate, affirming attention. Teachers like these women are my heroes. Out of respect to them I desire to imitate not just their methods, but their care. So I was safe and I found a passion for learning early. Mrs. Pascal shares my love of learning – – she reads three times my volume – – just in different genres. She is not obsessed with keeping the books and annotating them. In so many ways her gentleness soothes my turbulence.
Half way through elementary school, beginning the Spring semester of third grade, my father was laid off. He worked for Carrier at the time and Houston went into a deep recession as the bottom dropped out of the domestic oil and gas industry. This is another defining story of my life. Up close, from the perspective of a boy, I saw the effect of unemployment on a hardworking man. It can be emasculating. Is the effect similar for women? I don’t know. But for him at least and the son who looked up to him, it was devastating. The effects I remember were not primarily financial. I love macaroni and cheese with hot dogs to this day – – that was our $5 for three days budget meal. Of course some grow to hate the foods of subsistence. “I’ll never eat rice and beans again!” Manna – – yuck! I never saw it that way. I knew that God was providing – – that I would not grow hungry. And hey! It was mac & cheese! When times got better, I was Dad’s sous chef as he made homemade mac & cheese from scratch (the only thing he didn’t make was the pasta). Happy memories. Mrs. Pascal makes that recipe now and I think she even improved it. Beating my Dad in the kitchen? I love that woman.
I saw my father’s confidence fall. I saw him descend into depression in the days before fluoxetine or facile diagnosis. And – – I saw him try and fail. Failure is a faithful friend. I’ve learned more from him than his evil twin success. For six months, in the pre-internet era, he pounded the pavement. Mom was wise with money. They had a reserve of 6 months savings. He was offered a transfer back to Syracuse, NY – – back to the brutal winters that caused our migration to Texas. He was offered a position in sales. As a top engineer he could represent the product well to sophisticated customers. No. He knew, we all knew, that he was not a salesman. Introversion and passivity in sales? A wise decision. Had he exhausted the job search in America’s fourth largest city in six months? Within his rather specialized field of expertise – – yes. So he kept looking and did find a job – – in San Antonio. With those speed limits and our vehicles, it was a four hour one way commute. We put the house for sale (my parents had high equity and it represented their nest egg) at the beginning of fourth grade and told teachers and friends that we would be moving soon. The pending move and my father’s weekly commute saw us saying no to Boy Scouts and little league sports — both things that I really wanted to do. The move to San Antonio, to unite our family, did happen – – five years later.
-to be continued-
Photo credit: Handwritten letter by Descarte: by PHGCOM [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons