Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where's the Easter Bunny?

Easter was different this year. Duh, I know. But I didn’t expect it to feel quite so different.

Christmas and Easter are two holidays that have always been days filled with activity for me. It has only been recently that my holidays haven’t been filled with performances. My family is hyper-musical. I don’t know a better way to put it. I don’t think I can remember a time when we weren’t somehow involved with special music for holidays. Less so in recent years, but my brother and sister make up for that in their own churches.
The whole day would be spent with family, doing those things we always do. Church (however umpty-million services we had to play for) and then to someone’s house for dinner and “other activities” weather permitting. Easter is usually our first attempt at kite flying for the year. It’s always loud and busy and fun.

This morning I woke up alone. And I was faced with the prospect of spending the entire day alone. It was gloomy and grey and cloudy (the sun finally came out around 7pm). I ate my breakfast alone. I didn’t go to church. I listened to each of my neighbors in turn carry their flowers and food down the stairs and out the door to spend the day with family. I indulged in a tiny little pity party.

I didn’t expect to feel quite so alone today. I have been alone a lot in the last few years and I usually enjoy the solitude. I guess I always knew that there would be certain times that I wouldn’t have to be alone, and Easter is one of them.

OK, this part will sound a little strange. Yeah. So those of you who know me know that I can, at times, be a little stubborn. As a person alone in a foreign country, I wanted more than anything for someone to invite me to Easter dinner. But, being me, I didn’t want to ask and I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone that I would be spending the day alone. I didn’t want a “Christian duty “ invitation and I didn’t want a sympathy invite either.

Nothing kills a happy family dinner faster than some stranger with limited language skills sitting at their table. Everyone becomes uncomfortable. Where normally there would be ten different conversations happening at once there is only one or two, and the poor visitor (me) can hardly eat the food on their plate because the stress of holding up their end of the conversation is so intense. And inevitably I do something wrong, like carry a dirty dish to the sink, and then I become afraid to do anything, for fear that I am crossing some sort of cultural line in the sand. I'm not exaggerating here, the reaction to something as simple as carrying a dish across the kitchen is dramatic. If I was a dog they would hit me on the nose with a newspaper, but I am a person so they just jump at me, eyes bulging out of their heads, all the while saying  "no, no ,no ,no."

I’m not looking for pity and I’m not actually complaining (I don’t think). I just feel that you should know that even when it seems that I am “living the life” in a beautiful country, there are days when I struggle to feel content. If what I am doing sounds easy, then I haven’t done a good job of presenting this experience to you. Some days I just feel blue, like anyone else does in their own particular way and language. Today is my day for this. I know it’s my own fault that I am alone today. I have to become better at asking for the things I need, and I have to get more comfortable using whatever language will best get my point across. Next Easter will be different. I’m not sure how yet, but it will. Maybe I’ll go see the Pope.

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