Note No. 22

August 31, 2009

I have not written a word since I left Barcelona.

I certainly talked about it enough but when it came down to it, I could not get my fingers to type anything out. I could not even sit down to try. Perhaps it was the lethargy that kicks in when you exit the plane in Cancun and think you have walked into a wall, only to realize it is the heat; or it could have been that as soon as you cross the bay to this little island, the rest of the universe slips ever so slightly out of view and nothing has the same sense of urgency it had about three hours before; or maybe it was because I was watching and waiting, unsure what to think of it all.

From the outset, it was grand. I had new clothes, stories to tell, photos to show. The Caribbean was looking unusually turquoise. There were hugs and happy faces all around.

Yet was this charmed return to paradise just that: an unusually jovial homecoming? Could it sustain me beyond a month?

I think most people were expecting me not to ever come back to Mexico, or to stay only long enough to pack my bags and return to Spain. (I don’t know where that idea would have come from. It’s not like I was gushing or anything when I was there.) Since coming back here in early July, though, I have been thinking a lot about my future and those thoughts have not even considered Barcelona. I love that place (in case I did not make it clear at any given time) and maybe I will return one day but it is not where I should be right now and so, I am looking at possibilities that are closer to home.

Where is home? It’s where the heart is and though mine is kind of scattered all over the world, from Athens, Georgia to Athens, Greece, a lot of it is right here on Isla. The nomadic lifestyle is fun and exciting, but it also loses its charm after awhile. I still love to travel, and I hope to continue to be able to do so for a long time, but as for where I live, I do not want to be on a two-year cycle forever; I want a base.

Here, I like the challenge of using another language every day. I like the constant exposure to another culture. I like the familiarity of a four-and-a-half-mile-long piece of land. I like the feeling that you can try new ventures without being swallowed alive by the market. I like that my original home is just one time zone away. I like the relaxed pace of existence and above all, I like how close I feel to my friends. It is almost as if we survived 10 days bobbing on a lifeboat in the middle of the sea together. Maybe we did. Sometimes, this rock is so far removed from the rest of reality, it is a bit like you have been shipwrecked, except that there is a steady stream of rescuers who visit to make sure you are still shaving and washing your hair, and that you have ample supplies of dark chocolate and television episodes from that distant concept called pop culture.

That is not meant to demean the friendships I have outside of here. Not at all. It’s just that things can get in the way in That World and there is less time to soak in the company of others. Add to that that anytime you live as a foreigner in another land, you will likely flock to fellow foreigners with whom you will then form lasting bonds through the holidays you spend together, away from home, and the similar yearnings for things you cannot find here. The phenomenon seems even more pronounced in a place like this, as the culture clash is greater for an American abroad here than it would be for one in Canada, for example, not to mention that the square footage and the selection of extracurricular activities are slightly more limited than in other settings.

At the end of the day, all you have is each other, really.

This is not to say that I have definitely found my headquarters but I am also not looking to run away screaming, as I thought I might a year or so ago. I am exploring possibilities. Maybe they will pan out; maybe they won’t. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am not saying much more. I just knew that I had to say something, what with all the suspicions that my días were dwindling on this Mexican soil.

As far as I know (and hope), they are not.

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