Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dreaming In Enga:

Well, I got to sleep in until five a.m. today. It’s nice to get a full night’s rest. No Uncle Bill’s for me, our landlady is having us up for a farewell brunch on her deck at eleven. I went up to the bank yesterday morning and got a cashier’s check for our closing costs. Mary, Jason, and many others warned me about the closing cost switcher, where the good faith estimate is shown to be mediocre on the faith scale. The curve ball wasn’t too bad, about three hundred more than we’d been told, as one of our three month pre-pays has been shifted to nine. The up side of the escrow is that it’s still our money, simply held in trust for things we are going to have to pay anyway; the down side is that the bank gets the interest. Most of the four K from the Missouri grant is going into escrow, helpful and simultaneously depressing.

We met our realtor at a house she was showing up the street from us. We liked her immediately. She and her father had rehabbed that particular property and she’d lived in it while they were fixing it up. They’d done good work on the rehab and we liked the house, it was just too small for us. I drove by the place where we met her yesterday and she has a new sign out front advertising the same state program that we used for our loan. I laughed, as we had told her about the program. Some college friends, Mark and Daryl, used it to buy their first starter house. The place we are buying is not a starter home – it’s a stay in home.

Are you sick of hearing about the house, the manse, the manor, the main machination of our monetary movement (“Mensa musing” got me started on M alliteration)? We have been doing other things you know. We went to estate sales yesterday and got Jes a rocking chair for rocking the baby and me a small smoking stand that matches my grandmother’s chair for me to…put stuff on. This house is going to take so many of our resources to manage that if you want to see us, you’ll have to just come over.

My brother Phil raised his three children on the philosophy that if his house was the coolest house on the block, then he wouldn’t have to worry about what his kids were getting into at other people’s houses. I am a fan of both the fun and the philosophy implicit in this theory. We shall thus endeavor to make our home worthy of your patronage. We spent last night playing Tiger Woods golf on the Wii. It’s like that golf demo game that came with the Wii, only on crack. We made people (avatars as Vanessa likes to call them) that look like us (gut - booty and all) and then played the first nine holes of the PGA tour. The putting is a little touchy, but otherwise it’s a great game.

Oh, yesterday I also got an eight-millimeter film projector that still works for five bucks. I am currently having my parents wedding and our early years in New Guinea converted from eight millimeter to DVD as a surprise for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary – I can use the projector to pretend that we are going to watch them in the original format and then surprise my folks and siblings with DVD copies. We could also obviously use the projector to watch the films if we wanted to. I still have my parent’s old Kodak camera, so we could even make films for the thing if we were feeling all retro some weekend.

None of my siblings or family in general has seen these films since the mid-seventies.
I’ve only recently seen them as stills on the light table while Jes & I were deciding want order to put them in on the DVD. One of the films is of a tribal war – we opted not to include that on the anniversary gift DVD. My mother has this story of a war that happened while my father was away and a wounded man came into our house with a barbed arrow through his leg. He asked for her help and as the barbs would not allow retraction she had to push it all the way through his leg to get it out. You can see why I had planned to spend part of the summer taking notes to begin a book about our experiences. That anecdote is the proverbial iceberg’s tip.

There is a reunion for all the missionaries that were on station with us back then being held this summer here in St. Louis. My folks will be down for it in August and staying with us in our new guest room. I went to the reunion a few years ago and listened to stories about how the tribal wars continue, only with submachine guns and shotguns instead of stone axes and arrows. My oldest sister had gone back and taught for a year in the highland school where she had gone as a girl. We’ve since learned that the school was burned to the ground in yet another war. At one point all Western buildings were burned on one of the stations where we had lived except our home, as my father has headman status. They didn’t want to make him angry.

It’s more than odd to be part of place, a culture, to still discuss it and be discussed within that culture, to know that my father has headman status that protects some world war two Quonset hut, and yet to live at such a remove in time and geography. For me, writing a book about all this will be an exercise in solving an unsolvable riddle – making sense, if only through telling the stories, of who we are as a family. I think I may have just started it…


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