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false memories and places I haven’t been yet

14 November, 2015

I’m sitting here, safe at home, in the living room of our Chicago apartment.  Pony Monkey is playing on the floor next to me. Laundry is in the wash and muffins are baking in the oven.  It’s a perfectly ordinary Saturday afternoon.

I should be grading student presentations, but instead I’m thinking about events and reactions taking place around the world.

Paris, out of focus.  July 2011

Paris, out of focus, as seen from the Eiffel Tower.
July 2011

I’m not changing my Facebook profile picture, I’m not #prayforParis-ing, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize the tragedy in Paris.  I am, however, wondering why the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad aren’t receiving anywhere near as much media coverage or visible support on social media.   I’ve not yet been to Beirut or Baghdad, but I have spent time in Paris, and I imagine that this is the case for a number of people living in North America and Western Europe.  I get that familiarity with a place makes us think or even care more about it, but there’s probably more to it than that.

I’m thinking about the trips The Husband took to Lebanon for work that I couldn’t join him on for one reason or another, even though I wanted to go.

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to go to Iraq, but after having had some Iraqi students, and hearing about where they come from – and how different their narratives are from everything else (besides what I read in Annia Ciezadlo’s Day of Honey) I’ve heard about Iraq – I’m curious about experiencing their country first hand.

And I’m thinking about the time The Husband and I spent living in a Parisian suburb when Ninja cat needed a follow-up appointment as he was recovering from his accident.  I get familiarity and the effect it has on people.

I’m also thinking about my daughter and the world she was born into.  I have friends who have chosen not to have kids because they don’t want to bring children into a world that has as many problems as we do.  I respect their right to choose what works for them, but I don’t fully understand their reasoning.

Because my mind is elsewhere, and I’m an expert procrastinator, I’ve been looking through pictures from my last trip to France.  Despite the fact that this trip was 3+ years before Pony Monkey was born, I find myself looking for her in the shots of Cimetière de Montmartre and on the grounds at Versailles.  She would have had so much fun examining the locks chained to the Pont des Arts bridge crossing the Seine or drinking water from the fountains along the streets.

Before having kids, I don’t think I would have imagined the degree to which they become your life.  Wherever my life takes me, I know she’s going to be a huge, huge part of it.  And as her parent, I’ll likely be a huge part of shaping how she sees the world, at least initially.

Thinking about my daughter, and going to new places, and problems that have existed, and do exist, and will exist, makes me all the more determined to expose her to the world and have conversations with her about the problems we face and how we choose to react.

I’m full of hope.  Hope that in having her travel to other lands, meet people who are different from her, and think about how problems develop and the various ways they can be solved, she’ll learn to think for herself (and critically, at that) without falling into the pattern of narrow-mindedness that seems to accompany so much of what causes problems in the world around us.

Before having kids, I also couldn’t even begin to imagine what it is like to lose one.  Today, as on so many other days, I’m feeling the weight of families who have lost loved ones due to senseless acts of violence.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 November, 2015 14:47

    Yes, one’s children do become a huge part of a mother’s life. The days are long, the years are short.

  2. 14 November, 2015 16:19

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. Sad days for every part of the world, but the media is unjustly selective. No soul is worth more than another. I hope that the world regains its humanity and blood baths stop…everywhere

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