As it turns out, as we have proven, you can abandon your pressboard life, board a plane to a place you’ve never been and carve out an existence – and a pretty sweet one at that – in an uncanny valley far, but not too far, from home. We didn’t drop off the edge of civilization, though we did test its boundaries. We discovered a little corner of the world and found within it a small place for our own things; perched on the edge of an ocean, tucked between similar, but shabbier concrete boxes, we ensconced ourselves in our own version of home in Mexico. We haven’t grown roots so much as sticky filaments that keep us connected and, I am sure, fettered to the ground here, which so happens to be porous limestone. We will always come back to Yucatan, where we were married, where we built our first house, where we met our dogs, made some peace, laughed, sweat, swam, grieved, and gained perspective, courage, confidence and many more gifts I am sure will not become apparent until we are well settled back in the United States.
This summer we are daring to return. On or about June 18, 2010 we will pack up the pick-up with clothes, books, art, a dog, a map, and not much more than that. We will leave the house furnished – we hope it sells that way. In the meantime my Mother-in-Law will stay here and keep it safe. It is charming as is and if it does not sell soon it will be a perfect vacation home for us next winter, when we will no doubt find the weather less cozy and alluring than we do now. This summer it will be four years almost exactly that we have lived as foreigners in Yucatan, a state of pride and familial piety, independent in many ways of the problems that plague the rest of Mexico. We spent a college-length tenure honing old skills and developing new interests. We escaped our own fears, a downward spiralling economy, and an ordinary life we couldn’t make fit into our romantic expectations. Only now that familiar place beckons; much of what we weren’t ready for is waiting to be picked up, like a sweater discarded barely begun in the knitting basket.
This was a good break from the status quo, “full of adventure, full of discovery.” I am reminded of CP Cavafy’s Ithaka. Many among our friends and family didn’t believe we would actually do it, couldn’t understand why we might want to try. I had considerable doubts, but my belief that there was more to see and do beyond my ken, as well as my confidence in Malcolm prevailed. I was not always as hale and intrepid as I had hoped I would be, but I faced a few demons and conquered some faults. I saw the world and it recogized me, and I am inspired to keep going, to seek out new landscapes and seas and faces. Just not right now. Right now we are both craving home, for, despite its problems and failings America looks shiny, at once familiar and pregnant with possibilities.
We’re taking a drive up country, hugging the coast to Matamoros, across the border to Texas, traveling East until the Atlantic, then due North. After Houston, New Orleans, and Tallahassee, we’ll ride I-95 from Savannah to Charleston, through DC and Philadedelphia, happily sail through terra cognito and finally we will land in Portland, Maine around the Fourth of July. Patriotism!
We began this blog in the months leading up to our expatriation and we recently realized similar feelings were stirring as this new move approaches. We’re plotting and planning again, imagining a second start. In a new city, a new home, we’re heading back to a different America as changed individuals; we’re married now and we have our mostly loyal dog, Olivia with us. It is a rebirth, and we return as heroes, at least in our own minds. I am nothing short of ecstatic at the prospect of living in my own motherland, close to family and friends and things I love deeply, have missed fiercely, and challenges I am ready to meet anew.
But before that adventure comes a journey. I am looking forward to fleet highways and dusty backroads, to topography and geography I have never seen before, to busting out and seeing more of this enormous, diverse, beautiful country. We’re ending this story the right way this time, with a trip cross two countries, holding hands on the bench seat of a champagne F150. You joined us for the drop in and now we’re moving out. Ko’ox!