'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

Sweet grief

Tribeca 2008

I'd like to be a part of it. (Image by jenschapter3 via Flickr)

Last night, I encountered old friends who didn’t know and — recounting the story of my dad’s recent death — turned an otherwise lovely gathering into my own personal weep-fest. I managed to get out the door before it got really messy, but en route home, I found myself walking down the middle of a Tribeca street, sobbing, attempting to eat a cupcake. Crying while eating: It’s so right now!

* With thanks to Penelope Cray for the new title.

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Filed under: Cancer, Death, Family

A strange fellowship: Veterans of the cancer ward

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United S...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m in our nation’s capital for a few days, reuniting with family, among them my Aunt Mary, with whom I shared many hard and final hours in the hospital with my dad. Seeing her again is like coming across a fellow soldier; we both have the same 1,000-yard stare, the same ease with tears, the same shaky need to talk.

This battle analogy is a bit much, I know. But I must admit: It is only in the last 24 hours or so that I have slowly gained the perspective to know how crazy I’ve been, how dark and short and unfocused and unhinged. To all the people I’ve been difficult for — especially my dear, patient, also-grieving wife — please accept my apologies. This is so damn hard. Who could possibly be good at this?

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Filed under: Cancer, Death, Family, , , ,

Thirteen days since my dad died

Miami Beach and Port of Miami Skyline

(Image by joiseyshowaa via Flickr.)

The Miami sun that’s been shining for two weeks has given way to rain. Friends and family have been mostly dispatched to airports. The house is quiet and slowly approaching clean and for the first time in days I’m not having beer for breakfast. It’s small, it’s tentative: A new, unfamiliar era is upon us, and I grant you that I am at once scared and ready and grateful and very tired. This is the way I live.

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Filed under: Cancer, Death, Family, , ,

In which my friend tells me he's leaving forever

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

This is a long drive for someone with everything to think about. (Image by Bakar_88 via Flickr)

I’m riding in the back of a taxi driven by Sabic, a six-foot Keralite with piercing yellow-green eyes. Dust from the Empty Quarter bathes the morning in an ill, yellow haze. Usually I read, but today I’m sizing up the central city buildings, reading signs, taking note of the way people drive.

“When are you going home?” I ask Sabic.

It’s a familiar question; vacating Saudi is always on our minds, because so many of us here — seven million by some count, compared to a local population of just three times that  — are expatriate workers here on indefinite assignment. But it’s a queasy infinity: None of us can be buried in Saudi, and citizenship is granted to few foreigners born here.

Officially, at least, the Saudis are eager to get rid of us, and there are elaborate “Saudization” plans that call for the training of locals to do jobs currently completed by foreigners. But the reality of a Saudi Arabia in which locals do all the work is still far off.

So here we are — driving along the clogged arteries of 2010 Riyadh — an American and a man from southern India.

Sabic’s been here 14 years. Over that time, he’s completed Hajj, heard from afar about the birth of his daughter — now six years old — and has learned how to drive slow and steady. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Family, Hajj, Islam, Middle East, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, World, , , , ,

Thanksgiving Bingo: Creative Types edition

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

Simmer resentment, salt in wounds to taste. (Image via Wikipedia)

Tara Parker-Pope over at the Grey Lady takes on the grim, often hilarious ritual of family Thanksgiving. Sure, there are those who love the assembling of elders, middlers, and the young — all of whom share blood. But for others, the gathering of the tribe means a litany of abuse, criticism, eye-rolling and more.

Why not make it into a game? Pope quotes two ladies who do just that, assembling Bingo cards with key phrases — “That’s an interesting outfit” or “Your children won’t sit still.” The first to fill her card rushes to the bathroom to call. Rejoice, your family is more maniacal!

I love the idea, but given my own demographic and the background likely shared by many of my readers and colleagues, I thought I’d assemble a list more appropriate to our unique brand of failures, inadequacies, and annoyances. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Family, Food, New York City, New York Times, Thanksgiving, , , , ,