It's been a full week here, in the best sense, drinking deeply from our community and being refreshed as our roots sink down a little further. Sharing meals with friends who could be family, my dad's famous pizza dough recipe making bellies full while children wrestle and run wild. (Our downstairs neighbour asked if we are training for the Olympics, a twinkle in his eye. Gracious, he is, knowing our son since he was just learning to belly crawl.)
We also experimented with a Thai style curry with eggplant and brussel sprouts - I suspected I shouldn't have tried a new recipe (because: brussel sprouts) with dinner guests but they gobbled it up grateful, maybe to humour me but I'll never know.
There were friends stopping in on rainy days and long walks in our neighbourhood, sun warming winter skin. We knock on neighbour doors with strawberries in hand, talk of Ramadan preparation and sadly they are moving home soon, we share zataar on Lebanese bread, always a favorite.
Another friend stopped by with her kids, the older is almost four and still nurses and in her home culture that's pretty common. We commiserated together because they seem to need more than we want to give, but isn't that often the way of parenting? It's good to have a space to complain about your choices, because even when you feel they are the best choices for your family, it can still be hard, isn't that true? We watched our nurslings take turns rocking out on a little guitar.
And last Saturday morning was the monthly artists gathering on our street, so we walked up there, the four of us. A young man in too small over-alls sang with his guitar case open and baristas brought coffees to people I've never seen before sitting in the grass. It's nice to see people coming to our street for hot drinks and art rather than sex and alcohol. I saw a large painting and liked it, calling my husband over and he did as well. It was about 60% off the original price, by a local artist who pays cheap rent for a small studio two blocks up from us and we said we'll take it, we didn't even think about it.
When we moved into our very first place, after about six months of newlywed house-sitting I cried when we needed to buy things, because I'm like that. I don't like spending money frivolously and when my husband mentioned that we would need to look for a refrigerator I was on edge: "I'm pretty sure we can get by without a 'frigerator!" But of course we bought one, second-hand and a washing machine as well and we were given beds and dressers and we made other purchases to complete our tiny apartment, a baby already hanging curtains in my growing belly. It was hard for me, not even sure how long we would stay there and can't we just keep a few boxes packed up for a quick escape?
Three and a half years later, over two years into our second apartment together and we finally bought some art for our gray, windowless walls. Maybe they're trees whose roots go deep into fertile soil, faces turned to the bluest Australian sky. Or maybe, as a friend imagined, it's our local smokestacks reborn, turning into the green-brown strong of life, a prophetic piece reminding us that even massive towers of poisoned metal will one day be made new. Either way we are happy to have some art on our wall and in our family, a frivolous purchase maybe, but more important than I know.