It’s entirely fascinating to me how quickly humans can form new relationships and routines. When I close my eyes and think about my life so far, it’s a bitter-sweet collection of memories–and constant relentless change.
Gut-wrenching change that forces you to leave everything you built–all that is comfortable and familiar–to seek the road less traveled.
Just yesterday, I was asked why I had always had such a compulsion to travel and live far away. I didn’t have a good answer. I don’t honestly know the answer.
It’s just so closely intertwined into who I am that I feel encaged staying in one place for too long. I get claustrophobic if I’m too far from an airport or the ocean–and only at home when I’m not in one.
That’s not to say that it’s easy for me. It’s anything but. This evening, in particular, I feel an overwhelming sense of melancholy. In just a few days, we’ll be leaving Ericieria. We’ll be saying goodbye to Portugal.
They’ll stop expecting our clothes early in the morning in the laundry. The waiters at Na Onda, in Foz do Lizandro will wonder where that frazzled-looking woman with the unruly children who jump all over the tables is.
Liliana won’t have to arrive dead on 9 am at Happy Kids so that I can rush back home to work. And my surfboard at Ribeira d’Ilhas will be taken into the ocean by someone else.
As I sit here feeling pensive about the view I’ll no longer see, the faces that will only exist in my memory, and the beautiful life we’ve built here that will soon be over, I feel choked.
And then I remember that I’ve been here before. Oh, so many times have I been here before.
Death By Papercuts
It feels like the blink of an eye since my daily routine was finishing work, rushing into the ocean to catch the waves, emerging frozen yet invigorated, buying a piping hot papa rellena for small change from a kindly Peruvian street food seller, and walking past my elderly neighbor who would jog out of her slumber upon the sound of my wet flipflops squelching on the tarmac.
I wonder about her. Is she still alive? Is she dozing on the porch marveling at strangers in wet suits walking past? I don’t suppose she remembers me, but I’ll never forget her nor her horn-rimmed glasses.
I take a piece with me from everywhere I’ve been, lived and made connections. Every time I begged time to stand still and let the moment last forever. And it never did. I always knew it wouldn’t.
Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Spain–and so many more places… so many faces that fade dimmer with time…
The barefoot children in the plaza in Tapachula, Mexico. The sorrowful eyes of our driver when I left for the airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The lingering hugs from friends too-long unvisited, and the kicking back and swigging a beer as the sun sets on the open ocean.
Work, Work, Work
You always vow not to get sucked up into the rat race again, but you always do. Work has always demanded a lot of my time. Add two small kids to the mix and I’m finding it hard to even answer an unexpected phone call or keep in touch with the very few constant people in my life.
It’s like the ancient Chinese form of torture, death by papercuts or “death by a thousand cuts”. They used it to provoke a slow and lingering passing. I swear I feel it. Every time I have to leave or remember a place, a sound, a smell, a taste; it’s like a cut to the heart, a slow and lingering death.
So why do it? Why force yourself into those situations? All those people, all that overwhelming kindness, difficulty, sadness, challenges; the cut to the jugular when it has to end? Why not just stay at home?
Because a part of you, no matter how small, knows that staying isn’t an option. You will never settle if you don’t move on, see what’s over the next mountain, what lies beyond the horizon. And so much worse than that–miss out on all those people who are waiting to cross your path and add a new section to your life’s tapestry.
And this time around, I’m not alone. I’m privileged to be taking my children with me.
Bali awaits us in a few days time and I have to focus on the good that will come out of it instead of the sadness that I feel about leaving Portugal.
We’re Ready for You, Bali
Life mustn’t be lived dwelling in the past nor fearing the future. Yet I’ll always do both. I don’t think there are enough meditation apps or courses that will fix me. As for my darling children, they’re doing me so proud.
Cataleya can’t wait to go to Bali. She spends her time watching videos of some waterpark there that’s highly unpractical that we go to given that she can’t swim and Valentino is terrified of water. Still, she has in her mind that Bali is one huge water park. And we get to go to the airport.
I think that novelty will wear off long before we get there since we still have a 10-hour drive back to Spain before a 24-hour and three airplane trip to our new residence.
I’ve slept with chickens. I’ve listened to the sound of mating toads and watched their silhouette as they humped on the side of my tent, and I’ve bussed it overland for 48 hours without stopping. I’ve stayed in a converted prison, driven past a drive-by shooting, and slept in a hammock by the side of a rapid river in the rain.
None of those things will be a fraction of the difficulty of traveling alone with two small children for 24 hours, one of which has to share a seat with me. But, I guess, it has all been good training.
This upcoming trip may be the most challenging yet and also the most rewarding. Cross your fingers for us!