I've been away from home for a long time, five weeks to be exact. It was the first time I actually spent summer in the states in twenty-four years. Going there was for the most difficult reason of all - my mother's health. It's the call every expat fears - the one that beckons you home because someone you love is ill. The gamut of emotions I went through covered the spectrum. It was easy and joyful at times and deeply painful at others. By the time I left, my sister and I had managed to clear out her very large house, prepare it for sale, review the options for mom's long term care and come to some sort of peace with the whole situation. I celebrated my sixtieth birthday there, with family and friends.
I missed my husband terribly, but coming home to him and my amazing dog was wonderful. More wonderful than I can express.
One thing that surprised me over there was how easy it is to live in a place where the language spoken is your first language. I've beem out of that particular comfort zone for so long I actually forgot that living in a foreign country is infinitely more complicated both culturally and linguistically.
I saw old friends, some intentionally, some by chance, and some through tragedy. It was good for my heart to retouch relationships that were so far in the past. I made new friends, interesting people who live creative lives. It all had the effect of reminding me of who I am at the root, and helped me to rekindle my own sense of myself - older now, on the other side of many of life's dramas and physical changes, but still, deep inside, a bit wild. Because I was somewhat of a wild child. To put it mildly.
That wild child lives in me still.
Now the question becomes - how do I best communicate with her? How do I allow her to inform me, teach me? I suffer from anxiety and depression, but she's not depressed or scared. She invites life to present itself and walks through with a red dress and a magenta scarf and her hair in the wind.
I found her, as I knew I would, on the bank of the river where she's been forever. She knows the lesson of how the river is always the same but never the same. It's as it is but it's constantly changing. Just like her.
I love her.
She gardens, she cooks with spices, she makes pots. She knocks down walls and makes linen curtains and furniture out of pieces of old wood. She knows more than she ever lets on. She wears what she wants and some days her makeup is dramatic. She tells people to fuck off when it's appropriate to do so. She hugs with meaning. She gives of herself freely. She invites people in. She loves thoroughly.
She is me. My work in life is to embrace her, because in embracing her, I am embracing my wild life, the one I am meant to live.
If I ignore her - turn away from her - the result is fear and darkness. Because I separate and isolate - from myself.
So going there - and coming back - was a gift I needed to give not only to my mother and my family, but to myself.
To find her. And to remember to live my wild life.