Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Why are we here?"

July 26, 2007

Lately HH has been asking me: “Why are we here?”

Over the last few weeks the two of us have traveled across the ocean and up and down the Atlantic coast of the Unites States, back and forth to Manhattan a few times and always in the back of our minds is Cologne, where we will soon be returning and almost immediately upon arrival, moving into a new apartment.

It must be confusing to an almost four year old, to be moving about so. I recall reading somewhere that children at this age place great importance in place, in home, in defining what is theirs and what is not. Toddlers feel the need to nest, perhaps in order to get things ready for the growing that is underway.

I hope he likes his new home, it’s a place we’ve taken a good deal of time finding. We have lived in a furnished rental for over a year and as much as we like it, nothing in the place is ours and so we have never fully settled in. His new room is warm, at the junction of the two long hallways that backbone the space. The floors are old, of aged blonde wood set in a herringbone pattern. There is a large window at one end of the room, overlooking a church and a playground. With luck, it will be a room he can retreat to when needed, learn in, play in and sleep restfully in for the next decade or so.

With this move we are putting down roots. We have found Cologne to our liking and this small Platz in the Belgian Quarter of the city has the feel of New York with its gardens and cafes and small shops, yet it is distinctly Kölsch. In the local bakery and kneipe one could mistake the small talk for that occurring in any small town in the surrounding countryside.

We will have a formal “goodbye” celebration for our old apartment, for his old room, the hallway, the living room, the bathroom. And before we move into the new apartment we will organize a visit for him, so he can register his thoughts, wander about the empty space a bit and discover it on his own.

At times he’ll ask a question that throws me. I can choose to answer it on its most simple and apparent level or I can give him a more thoughtful response. The question: “Why are we here?” is such a question. In the coming weeks and months I expect to hear this question a few more times. I’ll do my best to respond in way that makes sense to him, but maybe I’ll turn the tables and ask him the question, maybe he’s known the answer all along.

Labels: , ,