Monday, June 30, 2014

More adventurous than she seems

Andrew recently picked up a tagline (Andrew Heiss: Missionary for the Adversary) so it was only a matter of time before I got one for myself. We're always trying to one-up each other. Because that's what healthy relationships are built on.

Before I get too far into my story I should perhaps explain that I have little to no patriotic feelings for the United States. I'm sure that sentence will get us into trouble when Andrew (Missionary for the Adversary) runs for president or tries for that job with the NSA but I can't help it because it's true. The Star-Spangled Banner has never made me emotional. Sorry—not sorry, because I have had a box of Maple Leaf Cream Cookies hiding in my cupboard since April and those are making me emotional.

Real. Maple. Syrup.

Did I mention they have been in my cupboard since April? Talk about self control.

Talk about how much I should stop talking about them because now I want one even worse than ever but I can't have one yet because I'm saving them for tomorrow. Spoiler Alert: It's Canada Day!

Now, back to our story...

My friend's father-in-law is in town. He's great. He came to the church with us this past week and played with (all six of) our children in the gym while she and I worked on cleaning out some closets and at the end of the day he said, "Your eldest daughter is a gem," and my heart melted into a puddle right on the spot because that's true—she is a gem. I'm sure my other children are great, too. They just happen to be four and two which are rather unsavoury ages.

When you are watching a five-, four-, three-, and two-year-old, as well as a baby, that almost-seven-year-old gives you hope that one day all those other children will also become rational individuals. And she can actually kick a soccer ball without falling over. So...


Anyway...

On Sunday he bumped into me in the hall after church.

"You're more adventurous than you seem," he said.

"Oh?" I asked.

"I hear you like to live abroad," he said almost accusingly (but not quite because he's a super nice guy).

"Yeah, we've lived abroad," I hedged, unsure of how I should answer.

"But," he said, his voice dripping with unbelief, "I hear you like it."

"Well, yeah," I said. "I do."

"Why?" he asked flatly.

"Oh, just...you know..."

I could not think of a single thing to say.

Reasons. I like to live abroad because reasons.

But that's obviously not really an answer so I just started babbling stuff.

"I like the challenge. I like exploring new places and learning new languages and trying new things and...just...you know..."

"It's terribly unsafe abroad," he warned me.

"Oh, I don't think it is," I said.

"It is," he assured me. "I hear you lived in," and then he dropped his voice to a stage whisper, "Egypt!"

"Yes. Yes, we did live in Egypt."

"How was that?"

"It was...great," I said. Because it was two years of our life (which might sound like a short amount of time but that's a full quarter of our married life together at this point). So it was a lot of things. But mostly it was great.

"Great?" he sputtered. "It is so dangerous over there!"

"Well, we lived there before the revolution...and counter revolution...and it was a lot safer then, a lot more stable, and I never felt worried for my safety, really. Not any more than I worry about my safety here. And, I mean, I'd lived abroad before that. We lived in Jordan right after we got married and we'd traveled to Egypt before so it wasn't entirely new. And I lived in Russia before I got married."

"Jordan?! Russia?! Do you just go around picking dangerous places to visit? Why don't you just stay where you belong?"

"I don't really think of any of those places as dangerous, really. And, I mean, I grew up in Canada..."

"I thought you were from Salt Lake."

"Oh, well, my family lives there now. They moved there when I was in high school. But I was born and raised in Canada," I explained.

"Canada is probably safer than here," he said and a I breathed a huge (internal) sigh of relief because from my point of view that was the first correct assertion he'd made.

"Yes!" I admitted. "I was actually really afraid to move here!"

"Here—North Carolina? Or here—America?"

"The States!" I clarified. "I thought that everybody had a gun and that I was going to get shot."

"Well, a lot of people do have guns," he said. "That's what keeps us safe."

"Well," I said, ignoring his last statement because I do not agree with that at all. "But I thought that people would just go around shooting at everything all day long and that eventually I'd wind up being shot myself. That's what you see in the movies, so it must be true, right?"

He kind of laughed at that.

"But I was wrong," I said. "I've been safe here so far. And I've been safe in other places I've visited as well because, really, none of the places I've lived has been terribly dangerous."

"I'm sure you'll change your tune if you have to take your children abroad," he said.

"Actually," I pointed out, "Our second daughter was born in Egypt. We lived there for quite a while."

"Well, you're more adventurous than you seem," he concluded gravely.

"Ummm...thanks!" I smiled, doing my best to smother the lilt in my voice that was attempting to turn that final exclamation mark into a question mark.

And then we both conveniently got distracted by the children we were trying to cart down the hallway and the conversation fizzled out. And that's probably a good thing because it was becoming clear to me that in order to remain amicable we'd have to have a change in conversational subject matter. Some topics (like gun control) should be avoided in polite company.

Anyway, Canada's homicide rate (per 100,000 people) is only 1.6. Jordan's a 2.0 (and life there was pretty). Egypt's is 3.4 (but they also just had a rather bloody revolution so 2011 might not be the best year to for this data set). But the United States is 4.8 (and they didn't just have a revolution, so this was just an ordinary year of people killing other people for dumb reasons). I'll admit Russia's up there with a rate of 9.8 (but Russia is still no Swaziland—I'm just saying).

I don't feel safe in the States because a homicide rate of 4.8 seems a little steep for such an...enlightened...country.

I don't automatically put my hand over my heart when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner because...I didn't grow up doing that.

I don't feel at home in the States because it still feels like living abroad to me.

But I think living here is great.

So while I might not yearn for American soil, there's still a place in my heart for America. And I am, admittedly, an American. I'm simply an American who is also Canadian (citizenship is weird) and had a very Canadian upbringing.

The best part is that I've lived in America for so long now that Canada's not quite home, either.

I'm homeless. That's why I like to live abroad.

And so that I can go by Nancy Heiss: More Adventurous Than She Seems.

3 comments:

  1. I am sorry that you are homeless, but I am glad you are more adventurous than you seem! That man would have probably freaked if he knew you were helicoptered up a mountain and hiked down in deep snow, sleeping in some random cabin overnight in the middle of a storm and stuff like that. Actually, you seem pretty thoroughly adventurous to me!

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  2. David and I have agreed that we are all homeless. And I feel extremely Canadian as "I barely lived there, so it doesn't count", as I have been told by a lot of people. It's a weird feeling.

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  3. "Nancy Heiss: More Adventurous Than She Seems" sounds like the title to a good book.

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