Saturday, November 18, 2006

Foibles lost and found

Two things have been true about me for the last several years: I sleep with a pillow over my head, and I can't stand long sleeves.

The pillow is a legacy of my late cat, Jasper, who used to poke my face in the middle of the night. If you've ever caught a claw in the sensitive inner lining of the nostril at 3 a.m., you'll understand my need for a defensive barrier.

Jasper: resting up for another night of assault and battery

As for long sleeves, they're just so annoying. Always strangling your wrists or getting caught on things or finding their way into the hummus.

When we moved to Jakarta, both of these traits miraculously disappeared. I slept in planes and hotels and our new apartment without anything on my head. I bought long-sleeved shirts and wore them without pushing the sleeves up, even in this blast furnace of a city. It was a new me. I was impressed with myself, since I've observed that life is mostly a process of solidifying in your old habits, not shedding them.

But somehow, the habits have crept back. I'm not quite sure when or how. Did I become more 'myself' again after a few months? Are foibles like these the flags of our true personalities? I would have thought they'd actually get stronger in times of change. Has anybody else out there lost habits, only to regain them?

I'll be interested to see whether they pull another disappearing act someday when we move back to the States. In many ways coming home is as disorienting as leaving, but somehow you always underestimate the difficulty. Maybe I'll need two pillows on the head when we go back.

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