As we tried to channel our longing for home in a productive manner, poems happened.
TWO-VOICE POEM by Retta
My Toyota Highlander.
Give me bus-free life.
TETRACTYS by Retta
LIMERICK OF LOVE by Becca
THE CONTRAST DIAMOND by Retta
MY SAN DIEGO KITCHEN (A PARODY OF ee cummings), by Becca
COUNTDOWN HAIKU by Retta
a. A state or period of stagnation or depression
b. A belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
Last night I clicked on one of those Facebook challenges that devours free time. This one listed 100 places everyone* should visit before they die. I have visited 58 of them which ranked me in the top 1%, #5664 out of over 500,000 others who also had their productivity effectively taken out back and shot.
And my immediate thought was, “Thankgod. Now I can justify never ever again in my whole life leaving San Diego for any reason ever.”
The joy of this adventure has faded. We are morphing into those ex-pats I’ve always rolled my eyes at, the ones eating mediocre pizza instead of local food and whisking past street vendors and outdoor markets in taxis on their way to the US-style grocery store. The ones that complain that it’s too hot and too dusty and why doesn’t someone just spay the damn dogs already.
I know why this has happened, or at least the list of contributing factors. We are past the halfway point, counting toward our return instead of from our arrival. We are alone here. School was too traumatic for my children to make friends, and now it’s over. The only people I meet are taxi drivers, cashiers and waiters; the person I know best in this provincial little city is our housecleaner.** And lots of things haven’t worked out recently: school, guitar lessons, language exchanges, Spanish tutors. Although the people are uniformly warm and friendly, it feels like Santa Marta has put up a wall and we are profoundly on the outside.
We hold it together with guests, because we are thrilled for the comfortable normalcy of people we know and the introduction of new conversation topics. But we all wish we were meeting up in Yosemite, or on the Cape, or even in their house where we’ve been a thousand times; anywhere easier than here.
As soon as the guests leave, we look at each other with no small amount of despair, for we are still in Colombia. And no one thinks that is remotely interesting any more.
So we go into hibernation mode. We see how long we can hide out in our apartment working on our hobbies until we need something from the outside world. Like bread or eggs or confirmation that the zombie apocalypse is not yet upon us.
Eric handled this by booking tickets to Bonaire and Roatan, to practice diving in the “real” Caribbean, the one that’s warm and calm and full of brightly colored fish. Retta has thrown herself into hobbies: singing, guitar, coding, young adult novels about the difficulties of high school. Jack is struggling most. He has stopped eating anything but peanut butter and imported mild cheddar cheese, the procurement of which carve away at his college tuition fund. I routinely find him curled under the sheet on his bed, boycotting something — his guitar teacher, a trip to the grocery store, a dinner that included salad. The rest of us grit our teeth and soldier on with our hobbies and our self-imposed goals, but with less resilience and no control over his destiny, he has ground slowly to a halt.
And I know the solution for all of us. Routine. Schedules. Goals and rewards. Changing our plans. Any or all of these would help. But this couch is so comfortable and my Kindle is full and I still have two bottles of wine and ten mangoes on the kitchen counter. So I think I’ll just stay here for a while longer and wait for the breeze to kick up and blow me along.
* By “everyone” I’m sure the random dude who made up the list out of his head eating ramen noodles on his couch in Omaha or somewhere similar meant “the privileged few with the economic capacity to hop around the world just for fun.” Right?
** When Eric left, I actually had to spend five solid minutes thinking of who I could call in an emergency. The list is pathetic: Eric’s dive instructor who helped us through the hospital incident. His (ex-?)girlfriend who we had over for dinner once. Two people who are friends of people who would actually take care of us if we had stayed in Medellin. Our doormen, whom I continue to believe speak a language wholly unrelated to Spanish. This exercise made me sad.