September 23, 2003


I'm sittin' in the railway station/ Got a ticket for my destination/ On a tour of one night stands/ My suitcase and guitar in hand/ And every stop is neatly planned/ For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Every day's an endless stream/ Of cigarettes and magazines/ And each town looks the same to me/ The movies and the factories/ And every stranger's face I see/ Reminds me that I long to be/ Homeward bound...

Tonight I'll sing my songs again/ I'll play the game and pretend/ But all my words come back to me/ In shades of mediocrity/ Like emptiness in harmony/ I need someone to comfort me/ Homeward bound...
-Paul Simon

If you told me that I could never speak a word of English again, on pain of death, I would be sad. I wouldn't be able to communicate with most people I know, since most of them are monolingual in English. I would have to learn Spanish and probably French. But more than that, I would miss the English language, her curves and secrets, her... ok, maybe I'm over-anthropomorphising this.

What I'm trying to say is, the English word I would miss most, without a doubt, is "home". Think about it. I'm sure other languages have other words to connotate what we mean by "home", but it's not the same. Spanish: casa means both house and home. How can you do that?

Anyway, I'm feeling foreign today. A stranger in a strange land, if you will. I had to deal with sales representatives today, which always depresses me. Basically, my efforts to get a cellphone that I can call home on for a reasonable price are increasingly fruitless. I bought a cellphone here when I came in July to register for classes. I couldn't activate it from the States, so I finally got around to that last week. Then, the cellphone won't pick up the network from campus. Someone else who has the same carrier (Fido) said my phone might be analogue, so I took it back to the (third party) store today. They said it was digital. So I'm going to call tech support for Fido, the one thing I want to avoid above all else. I would rather write the essay for English that I'm avoiding right now by blogging even though it was due yesterday than speak to anyone I don't know over the phone. Whenever I'm in this sort of situation, I feel like my IQ drops 50 points. I absolutely hate having to say, "I don't understand what you're talking about. Tell me what my choices are. Tell me how much they cost. Use English that I can understand." I'm not a Luddite; I'm reasonably up on technical terms. But I do not know cellphone jargon. All I want is a phone that I can carry around with me in case my car breaks down (like happened last week, but that's another story) and that I can call home on so I don't tie up the dorm line forever. We're offered a phone card through school that has a reasonable rate for calls to the States, but I have to get this mess sorted out first.

Wait, you say. What does this have to do with home? You deal with the same insane tech support stuff in the States.

Oh, you thought I was talking about home, as in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as in the United States? That's not my home. A slightly more familiar place than here, I grant you, and I love it a lot, and I do miss it, but for the last six months I lived there I just wanted to get out, and I'm glad to have done so. If I hadn't left, I would be quite miserable right now.

I'm talking about a different sort of Home completely. I want a place where, to put it bluntly, stuff works. I want to live in a land where the government empowers, not enables. Somewhere where life is fulfilling, where people can work and enjoy the work they do. I'm not going to live in some otherworldly Heaven as a disembodied spirit, as most Christians seem to believe they will. I've felt this way for a long time, and in several classes (Missions, Worldview) the prof has been bringing up the same points; that the kingdom of God is not (merely) a land of ideas and spirits and music, but a place where work and play, school, church and marketplace, doctor, artist and plumber can fulfill their purpose.

Do you know the feeling that comes after you've done a hard day of labour? You climb into bed after a warm shower, every muscle aching. The mattress is firm, the pillow soft, and you just have this amazing sense of a day well done. But then, the next day, you go to work or school, slog through mountains of forms and busywork, accomplish nothing substantial, and go to bed unsore but utterly unfulfilled.

That first feeling is the feeling I plan to have every day, and to the extent I can make that joy at work and play a reality in my life and the lives of others around me, I have brought the Kingdom of God so much closer to our earth.

To that extent, I will have come Home, and I wait anxiously for the Day in which there will be no more tears, sin and death -- and no more monotonous work, spam or horrid tech support calls, either.

Posted by Tim at September 23, 2003 02:12 PM

put the milk bag in BEFORE you cut the hole in the corner. it is also customary to, prior to hole-snipping, bang the pitcher onto the counter so the milkbag 'settles' and does not fall out while you are trying to pour.
i had a roommate first year who grew up on a dairy farm and upon seeing those plastic bags for the first time asked my RA very innocently, 'how these things worked.'

i am looking forward to reading your blog.


Posted by: Kat at September 23, 2003 07:55 PM

For the record, German has a word for home: zu Hause, which can mean "at home" or simply "home" as a noun.

Posted by: dagny at September 24, 2003 11:00 AM

Don't if talking to Fido will do you any good. Ancaster is a black hole for cell phone signals. I found I could have a (crackly) conversation from the quad and (sometimes) outside the north doors.

Posted by: James at September 26, 2003 10:53 AM

El hombre de carne y bueso sufre y muere.

Sobre todo muere.

-- Miguel de Unamuno

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