Monday, May 24, 2010


Reading a novel called Home I came upon the word "Deracinate" which means "to pull up by the roots."

One of my dear Buddhist friends in California finally succumbed to cancer and died on Saturday morning. Over the weekend I got reports of her final days, the community's reactions, and the funeral plans. I earnestly wanted to be there, but the trip is out of my reach. So instead of going to California, I deracinated some weeds out of my new Arkansas garden and thought about my friend Jeanne.

Last time I saw her, Jeanne told me that her worst fear was becoming bitter and grumpy at the end of her life, thereby alienating and hurting all the people she loves the most. And so she had posted signs on her walls. One said, "Never assume anything" and another said, "Be kind!"

It just takes so much time and shared experience to create those deep, satisfying friendships. You know what I mean. And when a dear old friend dies, and you are recalling all the accumulated moments you had with that person, you realize how shallow or underdeveloped the new friendships are by comparison, no matter how sweet.

When applied to people, "Deracinate" apparently means "to uproot a person from a native or customary culture or environment" and I often feel deracinated here in Arkansas. Tone deaf, out of touch, clueless. For example, while working on the Census I forget to make the friendly remarks that people expect and too often jump straight into the business of asking who lived in this abode on April 1, 2010. Their grim faces sharply remind me that I've slipped up again. Oops.

I resigned from the Census today - handed in my ID badge and Number 2 pencils - not just because the work has become repetitive, but mainly so that I can have more time with Katie as she heads towards the new baby's birth. So many more important ways to spend my time!

On the whole, I feel like a comfortably transplanted bush rather than a composted weed. I mean, I can feel myself tentatively sending out new baby roots into the warm Southern soil around me. And we are meeting people, going out with people, making new friends. There is a process underway. And, there is always the sweetness of being here with Katie, Travis and Honey.

Yesterday, Travis biked the 45 miles from Perryville to Little Rock, while Honey and Katie relaxed at our house. Katie took a nap, and Honey helped me harvest some electric blue Hydrangea flowers from our garden. Later, we all met up with Travis at a pizza place downtown, put his bike in the back of the van, and had lunch. All very normal, and exactly the kind of easy, natural times I hoped we would have when we moved here. I have no complaints.

I could not find the antonym to Deracination in my thesarus. But however you say it, I hope you are each enjoying the fruits of your deeply planted relationships, and building new ones. And I hope all of Jeanne's friends are finding comfort in the luxury of having known her.

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