18 January 2020
"Home is not just the place where you were born. It's the place where you become yourself." - Pico Iyer
I'm reading A Home of My Own by Sandra Cisneros and read those words, home "is the place where you become yourself" and I let out a deep sigh, not for any reasons beyond feeling heard and seen. I think this past year I came "home" and felt like I've had to squish and squeeze myself into something, a quieter version of myself. It's all an illusion. It's a self-imposed restriction I placed on myself, but I felt it. I felt that I had to fit into "home". I read Cisneros' words and immediately thought of where home was for me, where I become myself. I thought of that first trip to Guadalajara, Mexico the plazas, the mercado, the folklorico dancers, the colors, the mariachi band. I felt like I had woken up inside a dream, there was so much life here. The energy of my little fire sign self was waking up again after being told that nice girls are polite, quiet and reserved. I thought of Bellingham and all tiny coffee shops where the espresso was so strong I felt caffeinated by just the smells. I would sit at Tony's Coffee in Fairhaven and write poems in my leather bound journal, instead of homework. I was living inside the dream of being that girl who felt it all and lived her own truth, myself. I thought of Ecuador where I learned how to live independently in another country in another language. The frustrations of being a women in a machismo culture and being judged by my skin but then surprising people with my Spanish and ability to barter like a local. Then I thought of Malawi, living in the pioneer mansion on top of the hill looking over the Machinga district, feeling the rhythms of the seasons so intuitively. I learned how to make food over fire and taught my little house boys to make Mexican tortillas. The dinner invites from my Italian neighbor who would feed me delicious pasta and wine while we talked about Malawi and Africa and being White in a colonized country. I thought of landing in Boston feeling so brave. A city that is loud and direct and crowded and yet it was mine. I learned how to navigate it's winding streets, I found pockets of community, I biked it in all seasons, I navigated a record breaking winter snows.
I'm always finding home.
We forget and remember, forget and remember, forget and remember. Yesterday a man in town asked me what my last name was because he didn't know who my people were. Asking if I was from here, if I could attribute my lineage to this place. This is not the land of my family, but my family has been connected to it for 70 years now. He didn't recognize the name, couldn't connect me to the belonging that he associated with this land. Some people stay in one place, belong to the land but I think most of us move for many reasons. My grandparents moved for work and new beginnings. They came west and never returned home but instead found a new version of themselves here. I always feel connected to this land, the plants, the colors but I didn't find myself here. I forgot and remember, forget and remember that I have so many homes. I have been so blessed to have found myself many places. To continue to find homes all over.
I wonder the freedom if we all had reminders that home is where we find ourselves - not who we have to be or who we have been. We can always find ourselves - an evolving self - a new layer to the incredible beings that we continue to become.