It's fun, but also a bit disorienting. Appalachian country folk, with ATV's and guns. Suburban family, with kids in umpteen activities, committed to church and neighbors. Urban poor, deep in the inner city for the duration. Western ranch, expansive sky and land-rooted values. Wealthy and generous, or some who used-to-be-wealthy, now pressed financially. Academic, specialists, pursuing the frontiers of knowledge in their field. Student-simplicity, still forming lifestyles and opinions. Small-town, integrated and settled. More suburbs, with gracious everything-matches kind of houses, and space to enfold us. Coastal environmentalist. Historic farm. Homeschool protective conservative. In each of these cultures we land with our own mix of messiness, and try to understand a bit of real life for our friends, try to fit in enough to relate and connect, try not to feel to discouraged by the contrasts which show how short we fall, and then we move on. One day we can be discussing AIDS research with the people who are actually doing it, another day clapping to spirited gospel music in a mostly black church, another day making small talk with successful and relaxed Californians on the sideline of a roller-hockey game.
We have some really amazing friends, people with vision and passion, people who are raising remarkable children, people who agonize over global warming and middle-East peace and authentic gardening, and people who seem far removed from any of that. And perhaps BECAUSE they are all such good and interesting people, I find myself trying too hard, to change quickly with each new venue. And this time that is supposed to be the restful feel-at-home time has become a tiring one. So, please forgive us, who are supposed to have the stepping-over-culture-line dance down pat. Realize that we love you all, and that we want to affirm your uniqueness. And that we are too weak and unsettled to hold our own adequately in this rich and various mix.
Until Heaven, then. We salute the palette of cultures, and continue to press on.