In the Dust of Southern Latitudes

Life is different there, just as their cities are different. They build with more permanent material, and I am sure their houses are worth more and not so easy to keep warm. Because they have little need for the warmth of wood and insulation they can build of concrete, cinderblock and brick. And everywhere they have been building. They have recently built a long riverwalk. They made the river itself, a long tank of several kilometers with fountains, bridges and other attractions along the side. They are building a massive hospital on one of the hill—not of iron like a building here, but a huge building of reinforced concrete towering over the mountain and with a commanding view. With regard to construction there, my mother observed that the materials they use are good, but that the quality of the work is not usually the same.

My mother is not a fan of the drier either; she likes to hang wet clothes out to dry. As a result the clothes she washes have a certain stiffness to them, a certain lack of soft, tossed fluffiness that driers usually impart. This little thing you notice if you wear clothes not designed for ironing more than in clothes designed for ironing. You notice the feel when you put them on because you have the wear the softness back into them like wrinkles into perfectly flattened clothes. And why o why are we so stuck on flattening out or clothes anyway?

I went to my parents house looking for comfort. I went to read, to write, to pass the time examining. But I was not satisfied in what I read and I observed more than I was able to examine—not for surfeit of observation but for lack of examination. It is the sort of living into which I would have to wear the comfort, as it were, gradually.

My parents way of living has not changed for a great while. But my way of living has changed, and this is what I learned on this trip. I traveled home and found I was no longer home. The leaving of my parents, the influence of my wife, our growing and changing has made us different; and we have made our own home. Traveling makes you eager for home; you understand it better when you miss it, or when parts you miss you recognize as absent. My places to read, my library, my periodicals, my Bach and Shostakovich, my wall of authors, my lava lamp, my accordion all are here. I have grown used to the clothes that come out of a drier, and by doing so have been surprised when I had to wear the comfort back into the ones that had been hung.

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