- I’ve traveled the world, lived with roommates from almost every country on the globe. I learned how to layer my clothing from the French and Swiss. I learned to laugh from the Swedes (and how not to take the last piece of pie, cake, cookie or anything from the plate). I learned to love kim-chee from a Korean roommate. I’ve learned to love the Japanese art of not only cooking but how to eat, from Japanese roommates. I’ve learned how to greet my Chinese friends loudly in the morning with “jóusàhn!” Let me tell you, if you’re a Swede, greeting anyone loudly in the morning is a direct departure from all the DNA you have in your body. Then, I’ve had Filopeno roommates…the most joyful, the most musical, the most happy, the most welcoming people on the planet.
I remember one day as a young Missions worker walking to the camp of my fellow Filopeno teammates on an outreach day. I was in my early 20s. One of them started strumming on his guitar Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.” Then they all sang it to me as I walked by. They knew the bass lines and the the melody. Never in my life have I felt so special, so appreciated, so respected, so …..je ne sais quoi…just loved. All I saw was bright white smiling teeth-filled smiles on brown skin from men who appreciated me. I think I will always love the Philippines because of that day.
In the ensuing years, I’ve had the privilege to live or visit with Brazilians, South Africans, Australians, Dutch, New Zealanders, English, French, Austrians, Swiss, Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, Danes, Germans, French, the list goes on.
This year, I get to live with a Greek. Because I am now a rent-paying citizen, I’m not sure if I still qualify as a “Professional Guest” any more. However, this is still her home with her furniture and her design, art, style, and guests learn to eat what their hosts provide. I have had one year to learn to eat the Naples way. The only trouble is, my roommate is a baker, not a cook. It is up to me to cook!
I am a cook and I like to improvise. Love to throw meat, veggies, spices in a pan and see what comes out. Since I’m the cook and Carla is not, she is learning to eat what I provide. Outside of offering camels and goats, I guess the best next gift I can give is food. Fortunately, Carla loves what I cook and we have the fun of sharing dinners.
This is fun in every way. Greeks love to eat and their core diet is “Mediterranean.” I’m not sure where my DNA crossed with hers in the ancient past because even though I’m Swedish/English, I prefer the Mediterranean diet above all else. (My Ancestry.com DNA test did show that I showed up somewhere on the Iberian Peninsula in the far-distant past)….She loves my cooking, and it’s 100% more fun to cook for someone else than just yourself so I happily slop ingredients into a saucepan, always starting with onions and garlic, and call it a dish.
I know she would love to find a man and be married. There were years when I yearned for the same thing. But for now, we two “widows” have been thrown together under the same roof, we’re learning from each other, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrels to keep the roof over our heads, and we know….we know….. there are just better days ahead.
Still, I can’t help but think of the men I have fallen in love with over the years, who for one reason or the other decided I wasn’t “the one” and then married the next woman they met and fell in love with. They are all still married, have kids, and are raising the next generation. When and why I fell out with their stories, I may never know. But it doesn’t matter. Life is a journey…we are all traveling on different paths. We have choices. I’ve made some really dumb choices and maybe those guys saw that in me. I’ve made some really good choices and maybe those guys missed that in me.
What makes a “Pretty Woman”? I don’t know. I suspect it has to do with chemistry and commitment. My brother-in-law Geoff once told his wife to be, my sister Candace, “The Daigles marry for life.” Was it because she was pretty? 36-24-36? Nope. It was because he saw in her the qualities of design, artist, life appreciation and hard work that he wanted in a woman. They’ve been married for umpteen years and there’s no sign of decline. I want a man like that. Well, of course she’s pretty, but that isn’t the reason they’ve stayed together all these years.
It’s a crapshoot…. really. But I don’t feel bad. My grandniece recently posted something about her efforts to get back to ideal weight and health. She said she tells herself every day, “I am beautiful.” I took that to heart. I will tell myself every day …. that I am beautiful….I will get up in the morning and do my morning swim aerobics, I will walk the Naples Pier in the morning watching the fishermen haul in their catch. While I am here, in Naples, Florida, I will cast my net wide to see what work there is for me and my skills. If there is no work, I will move on.
In ancient days, God blessed Abraham with so many camels, goats, and cattle that he and his nephew, Lot had to part ways because it was becoming hard for them to keep count. May that same blessing be upon me.
Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Jewish Friends…Become re-aquainted with the history you have, know the God of your forefathers, know that all the old covenant promises pointed to the future, and…..may your names be written in the book of life.