Years ago I met an international businessman’s daughter who lived her formative years in Asian countries. After years immersed in those cultures, her family returned to the States and settled down in Ohio, near relatives, where this young woman had to finish up high school.
By the time I met her, she was a young adult reflecting on her childhood and the challenge of living with a kind of hidden diversity—she looked like a typical white Midwestern girl, but in many ways felt Asian. I asked for an example of when she might have felt differences, and she talked about high school kids in Ohio “cruising.” She didn’t understand the past-time at all: piling into cars and driving slowly, aimlessly, through town.
“How is that fun?” she asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s what my friends and I did growing up,” I admitted. “What would you and your friends do for fun when you were growing up overseas?”
“Oh, maybe on a free day a bunch of us would get together and rent a junk,” she said, “sail to a little island and spend the day lounging around, swimming, and having a picnic together.”
“Ah,” I said. “Yes, I can see how high school kids in Ohio would have a hard time imagining that.”
Even I did, and I have a vivid imagination.
I thought of her today as I captured some of the rural landscape just outside our neighborhood.
I grew up on a farm.
And attended a university only 30 minutes from that farm.
After college, I moved two hours away.
All these years, and I’m still here…
surrounded by the same crops…
spotting the same wildflowers…
It’s all so familiar to me, so ordinary, it’s easy to cruise right past.
And miss the beauty.
When I got home this afternoon, I thought about it some more.
About living here all this time.
I don’t regret this ordinary life, but I do try to imagine…
what it would be like…
to rent a junk for a day.
Photos © 2011 Ann Kroeker.