Another place that feels like home…

We are finally heading to the Seattle airport after spending much of last night trying to fit three weeks and two hemispheres worth of luggage into two carry-ons. We failed. But we would have made it if it weren’t for the toys!

Z and I spent a good part of last Sunday at Magic Mouse Toys in Pioneer Square picking out gifts for his little cousins. The oldest boy is twelve and likes dinosaurs; his little brother is 5 and likes whatever his brother does. They got an archeological dig set and a puzzle. The three girls got a board game they can (hopefully) play together. Two others got a Legos/Pictionary hybrid where you try to build the Lego figure on your card. These are the main gifts.  In addition there are a bunch of little stocking stuffer sized goodies for each of them—rubber pencils, false teeth, and photosensitive paper.

Z took me with him to pick out toys for his cousins the first he took me to Sri Lanka. Each toy had to be perfect.  I was surprised how serious he was about it: He spent an hour browsing and asking the clerk for advice before he even
started to choose. At one point I suggested princess wands for the girls. He wrinkled his nose.  “I want something more educational. You can make costumes in Sri Lanka. Good toys are harder to come by.”

At that point our relationship was very new, and to me, the trip to Sri Lanka see was going to be a test of it. I was excited but also scared.  Sri Lanka was very far away. I had never been to Asia before.  A war was on. Besides all that there was eating with my fingers and how to handle the spices.  Plus wasn’t sure if Z’s parents would like me.

After another hour at Magic Mouse we picked out several copies of The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls, combination science fair and mischief manuals, a few science kits, and a small fleet of rubber band propelled flying monkeys.

That was four years ago.  Shortly after our first visit, Z’s father fell ill.  Since then we’ve been back to Sri Lanka six times. The phone would ring in Seattle, in the middle of the night, and Z and I would be on a plane the next morning. There was no time to buy toys.

As Z and I stood in Magic Mouse last Sunday discussing which puzzle to get or whether or not the kids would be able to play Banannagrams, I realized how different I felt about going to Sri Lanka. This time I was not scared.  Thaththa’s illness gave me so much time in Sri Lanka—and with Z’s family–that I feel comfortable there now.  Sri Lanka is still plenty foreign and I don’t speak the language, but I can eat with my fingers and handle the spices.  As I looked at the toys, I realized Sri Lanka is another place that is beginning to feel like home.

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