Cockroach Season

24 09 2010

The wonderful thing about living abroad is always having the convenient ability to happily accept normally unpleasant details of life as new and exciting “cultural experiences.” As the weather warms, the once rare sighting of a cockroach in our kitchen has turned into a several crunch-underfoot a day habit. In the US, having this problem would range somewhere between annoying for some and shriek worthy for others. Abroad, the little ugly beasts somehow inspire a bit of introspection.

Stay with me here. As odd as it sounds, I’m grateful to have been blessed with the means to squash a cockroach in Argentina. Besides being born with feet big enough to make shoe shopping difficult, I was also born into a family that truly allowed me to do the things that I’ve done, am doing, and will do in my life. A lot of work has been put into being able to live in another country – some done by Katie, less by me, and a whole lot more by our parents.

By starting to see my life as a sum of actions by my parents, I can’t help but be incredibly grateful. Without every individual difficult and/or unpleasant task completed by my Mom or Dad, I wouldn’t be able to live life that much ‘differently.’ With every bill dutifully paid on time by my Dad, the longer I could stay in college with the help of student loans. With every rejection of silly childhood desires for this new toy and that new game, I learned the importance of careful spending (Dad always says, “If it’s not on sale, it doesn’t go in the pail.” – frustrating for a high schooler, but a good motto to have at your disposal as a broke twenty-something.) With every stack of files my Mom alphabetized I learned the importance of a real work ethic. With every patient dust-mop lap of the halls of Bemis Junior High, my Dad slowly laid the foundation for the life I have today.

As I rode the bus from Buenos Aires back to La Plata tonight, I again thought of how extraordinary this ordinary act was. Passing the dark, empty fields of the countryside that I’ve seen dozens of times was routine for my eyes, but rarely appreciated. A generation ago, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college, and certainly would not have had the same attitude about living in other countries. A generation ago, I very well could have been drafted to fight in Vietnam. Two generations ago in the South Pacific. Three, in Europe. Four…?

Instead of fighting for my country (and possibly dying for it), I’m traveling voluntarily with my wife in-tow (probably the other way around?). We’ve seen some amazing things so far and will continue to grow and mature in incalculable ways that would have remained out of reach if it weren’t for some very good people back at home that got the important things right with us.

Although it’s easy to categorize our generation as lazy, self-centered, arrogant, lost in technology, lacking common decency, common sense, etc, etc; there are times when we have some moments of clarity. This is apparently one of mine. So, thanks to those that got me here.

TIM

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