Monday, July 23, 2007

Hope Street, Providence

The house has the feel of an ancestral home, the kind of calm acceptance in the air that other such homes have had - sunny Cambrae flat, bright new Pullonath house and solid Lakshmi - in the good old days. Our good old days, my generation. So much so that I feel my old awkwardness return. Why does family invariably bring on a sense of inadequacy? So for the first two days, pretty Providence took a backseat to my own colourful internal landscape. But as always, the smog soon burnt itself away... to reveal elvish gardens and Charlie Brown skies.

There are real maple trees, with leaves that look like Air Canada! And flowers grow in the gardens that I have only seen in buckets at Spinneys or bouquets that sit on others' desks on Valentine's Day. There are birds twittering about the feeder that you've only seen on Animal Planet, houses you've seen in coffee table books, soil I've known in bags.

We went for a walk one evening, looking at gardens and houses. We were our parents and grandparents. The time and place are different but the spirit is the same.

There is luxury in this, holding a baby or a conversation. Lingering at the dinner table, just living our days together. Renewing ties, filling in the blanks. And like pages on a calendar, I cannot thread together a story. I see single scenes dissolving in and out, a music video or a slideshow. The remembered rhythm of a manageable space and evenings spent at home. The long-forgotten ringing of my feet on pavements meant for walking. Pugnacious shop fronts and neighbourhood grocers. The startling fact of neighbours dropping in to visit and congratulate – American people in an American world, behaving like they lived in tiny Ponnani. A long walk in the rain, drops ringing through heavy trees. The feel of an umbrella in my hand. Of doing nothing with others. The festive fragrance of a barbecue. The expectant chill of a drink while waiting for the Harry Potter party to begin. The uncomplicated joy of being here, now.

The contentment of these days wash through me so that I feel convalescent, like I am here at the end of a long and dangerous illness, out of danger now but tired and misty from battling it.

And when I leave, I am both healed and reft.

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