Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Five not-so-little things

Sandra over at Sunshine Scribe took part in an interview game and answered 5 questions from Mama Tulip. Now we’ve moved another space, and I have offered to answer 5 of Sandra’s questions. I have to say, I was floored by her questions. But it has been fun to dive inside myself for a little bit and mine for the answers. So here goes...

Sandra: If you could relive one year of your life again, what year would you choose?

Me: A surprisingly easy question for me, as I have said to many people that 30 was my favorite year. I turned 30 just about 6 weeks after Scooter’s birth. While motherhood wasn’t exactly a cakewalk and I didn’t have it all figured out yet (as if I do now), I was starting to get my rhythm back: I was healing (though that took longer than expected), breastfeeding had gone from painful to pleasant, my instincts were kicking in.

I tell people that I had everything I wanted I at 30. Trillian and I were mostly settled into our house; it wasn’t big, but it was ours. We had no debts beyond the mortgage and a small student loan. I was teaching and felt that I could actually make a difference in my students’ lives. And I felt cozy in my little nest of love.

And it’s not like I only had that for a single year, but that was the first moment that I felt like all was right where it needed to be, and the realization itself brought extra joy.

(A close second would be my first year with Trillian. I sometimes miss that heady whirlwind of first love, sprinkled with a healthy dose of lust. But there was no Scooter then.)

S: What will you miss most about Canada if you move back to the US?

M: Right now, Trillian and I are very homesick, though it’s not for a place that exists yet. We look forward to a day when we will be able to put roots down in a community, get another house with a garden and a dog run, send our kids to the neighborhood school. And I’m pretty sure that will be someplace back in the States.

Nonetheless, I can quickly think of something I will miss. I suspect that this experience is based at least in part on being in Toronto (or at least a liberal, metropolitan area), but I will definitely miss the security that Trillian and I feel in our relationship. Whenever I cross the border back into Canada, I refer to her, without any hesitation, as my wife. Because she is, in a very real and legally binding sense. Our relationship is not at all ambiguous here.

I had long thought that marriage would not make a big difference to us since we have drawn up many of the legal documents that help approximate the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Yet it makes a huge difference to me on a psychological level to know that all of those things are absolutely ours up here, no need to fight or go waving papers in people’s faces.

That’s not to say we won’t be able to find a state or locality that will recognize our relationship on some level (as a ‘domestic partnership’ or ‘civil union’ if not a marriage), but that requires the mental juggling of keeping track of what each border crossing (out of city, county, state, or country) means to the definition of who we are to each other.

S: What would you most like to be remembered for by your son?

M: For most of my life, my defining characteristic has been my intellect. It has helped me earn a living and been a source of pride. People are impressed when they hear what my field is (or what I used to teach), and I enjoy the acknowledgement that I am a smart woman. But then I had my son. And as much as I want to raise him to appreciate education and the joys of thinking, as much as I want him to appreciate my intelligence (outside of the teenage years when he will be convinced I know nothing), it’s no longer the most important thing.

Now I am so aware of how much more I treasure things like kindness and respect. And so what I want my son to remember about me most is something I find hard to put into words, more a feeling than anything else: a sense of embrace. When he thinks of me, I want him to feel that he is enveloped by warmth, kindness, and an understanding that he is loved for everything he is, no exceptions. I want him to feel this through my words, my actions, and my physical presence. I want him to remember what our hugs are like, beautiful moments in which we connect and that is all that matters.

I also want him to remember how I read Thomas the Tank Engine books to him, giving the engines different voices and never letting on just how tired I was of the Island of Sodor.

S: There are a lot of great environmental charities out there. If you could give a million dollars to just one deserving one, which would it be and why?

M: This is a hard one for me. I’m amazingly good at finding things to quibble with about various charities. And right now, for all of my environmental fervor, most of our charity dollars go to gay and lesbian groups or child-related charities. Greenpeace was the first environmental organization to reach my consciousness; as a teenager, even without much money to call my own, I gave them about $15 a year. But I don’t really like a lot of their tactics—too guerilla-ish, which is not my thing (which shouldn’t be a big surprise given my other answers here). And I’ve heard mixed reviews on a number of other groups, so I actually had to do some research to come up with my answer. I started by looking at how different charities rank in terms of using the money they raise responsibly. This site gives me a head start by giving me a list of the A’s. There are a couple there that don’t match my philosophy, but I could happily hand a million dollars over to most of them. There was one name, however, that stood out for me as soon as I saw it. That would be the Earth Island Institute. Their mission and the means they have identified for achieving it match most closely my own philosophy. EII serves as something of an umbrella organization for a number of projects worldwide. They provide the administrative know-how and other support for people who might otherwise not have the chance to see a project to fruition. Right now, there are more than 30 projects in EII’s directory. Some focus on specific geographic areas, such as the San Francisco Bay waterfront, Lake Baikal, and the Tibetan Plateau. Others focus on the dissemination of information, in various countries, about topics like travel, among specific populations. Never mind that they were largely responsible for making American tuna “dolphin-safe,” one of my earliest environmental concerns.

So yeah, I would give them that hypothetical million. And in the meantime, I think I can find $40 or so to join.

S: If you could be a super hero, who would you be?

M: I don’t know that I can come up with the name of an existing super hero. Some of this is a less-than-encyclopedic knowledge of them, but a larger part is that I have such a hard time seeing myself in those roles. As I mentioned a while back in reference to Buffy, I identify with Xander; it was not a popular choice, but my defense boiled down to my admiration for the fact that he does not have the advantage of any particular powers and yet he sticks it all out.

But to get a little closer to answering the question, let me refer to a book by my favorite author, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. Not to go through the whole plot, but the heroine, Hari, finds herself in martial training, and it is obvious to her that this is awakening some part of her heritage she had never known before. This before unknown piece of her leads her to greatness in battle, and this is something she attends to from a sense of duty and a desire to protect those she loves. But after the climactic battle, she recalls stories that tell of this same power having been used for healing in ancient times. That is what I would want to be, a sort of super healer.

OK, enough of the sap-fest! Now it’s time to swap positions. Who wants me to interview them? Leave your request in the comments or email me, and I’ll try to come up with similarly delving questions.


Sandra said...

Brilliant answers. I was so looking forward to your take on these. I enjoyed reading each and every one. Insightful. Thanks for playing along with my delving/nosy questions :)

Mad Hatter said...

Mouse: I am soooo totally Xander too. The Zeppo may will be my favourite episode.

I love these answers. Love them. I love them sooooo much more than I could ever dream of loving the Island of Sodor.

bubandpie said...

(waving hand) Pick me! Pick me!

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

Such insightful answers. I don't know if I can do such a literary job, but I'd love to play!