Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Migratory Life


“No soy de aqui, ni soy de alla,
no tengo edad, ni porvenir
y ser feliz es mi color de indentidad”
-Facundo Cabral

(I’m not from here, nor from there
I have no age or future
To be happy is the color of my identity.)

There is a Mexican folk tale about a donkey that was extremely hungry. At the same time he was also very, very thirsty. To the right of where he was standing was a fresh pile of hay, and to the left a cool river of clear water. He turned toward the right to eat, then realized how really dry and parched he was and so turned to the left, only to feel the ache of hunger in his stomach crying out for food.
Thirsty. Hungry. Food. Water. Left. Right. What do do?

And so they found him, both dehydrated and starved to death at the same time, unable to make up his mind….
Grim, I know. And yet whenever I think of this story I have to admit that I feel an odd kinship towards the donkey.
It scares me sometimes.

*

Well, we have been back in the US for 2 weeks now and I spent the first one wandering lazily about the house in a semi stupor, as if waiting for my soul to catch up with my body. Maybe it’s because I am getting older. Maybe it’s because I am feeling more displaced these days wondering where my true home is. Or maybe, like everything else lately, it’s just another menopause thing.
At any rate, it seems to be taking a lot longer to adjust to the change of environment.
Everything about being here is so different from where we just left.

At 6,000 feet in the high desert of Mexico the air is crisp and sharp and dry.
The senses are constantly assalted by smells both delicious and repugnant, the daily inescapable sounds of barking dogs and crowing roosters to church bells, fireworks, music. It drips with rich earthy colors: ochres and reds, a sharp blue of sky, deep purple shadows.

Mexico is a culture that nurtures creativity and spontaneity and human contact
.
It is intense in every way. It can overwhelm you and enchant you. It can charm you and exhaust you. It’s sheer and constant aliveness both seduces you and drive you crazy at once, like a wild love affair.

Here, on the other hand, my skin gratefully soaks up the moisture on the grey cloudy shores of Aptos, among the gentle soft blues and greens and beiges and greys. In my house I can hear the sound of the ticking clock and occasional passing car, smell the occasional whiff of the vague sea air and spring blooms.
On one of my return trips from Mexico I found myself lying in bed irritated by what sounded like the bass notes of a not too distant boom box that went on and on. After awhile I realized to my astonishment that it was actually the beating of my own heart in the immense unbelievable silence of the night.
It feels peaceful and predictable here. Refreshingly dull and insulated. The perfect place to rest and regroup.

So what to do? North. South. California. Mexico. Why not both?
I do love the migrating lifestyle, being of two worlds. Each complements the other, each fills me up in a different way. It is a definitely a lifestyle that is challenging to maintain logistically, mentally, and physically, however, and one must adapt to a sense of flexibility in life as well as a defined structure to make it work. One must embrace a sense of home in a different way, as a citizen of the world, where traveling and daily life are the same. I’m working on it.

***

Why is it, when I am in Rome,
I'd give an eye to be at home,
But when on native earth I be,
My soul is sick for Italy?

Dorothy Parker
(from On Being A Woman)


***


1 comment:

Lisa Garrigues said...

yes indeed, why not both?

ambos. buenissimo.