“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” –Louis L’amour
The rain came. Heavy, steady rain that pounded the rooftop for two days straight and washed all the heat away. The view of the ocean from our window was obscured, just a wall of gray where the waves usually roll. It cooled so much that we switched off the fans and I pulled my favorite green sweatshirt, the one I was sure I’d have no use for, from the closet and wrapped it around me.
We left the apartment only for dinner, wearing our raincoats like parkas. The streets had turned to rivers. There was no chance of staying dry.
“I still don’t miss the car,” yelled Brian, from somewhere under his coat hood.
“I don’t miss anything,” I yelled back. But that is never true.
I’ve dragged my old journals down to Mexico because I need them as reference for my Yellow Envelope book. I’ve been paging through them, reading, so many small details of life captured inside. I know, for example, that on the first day of September 2012 Brian and I had breakfast in Mindo, Ecuador with an old couple from Alabama who complained that the food didn’t have enough salt. On 2/5/13 I was in my apartment in India listening to my neighbor sweep her concrete porch. I wrote: Her stiff broom is making that swish-swish noise.
Buried in my red moleskin, my South American journal, I found a running list of things I missed from home: pizza delivery, napkins, ice, dinner parties, gardening and trail running.
The list in my black journal, the one I carried in India, is shorter: shower doors, reliable electricity, WIFI and good wine.
It is such a strange life that Brian and I lead, one that I know few really understand. Back home I feel suffocated and boxed in, like I can’t find a seat on the bus. On the road I often feel unmoored. I want a stake in both worlds but I can’t quite find my place in either.
Not too long ago in Portland I had my handprints read by a tiny woman, an engineer by day, with kind brown eyes and black-rimmed glasses. She pointed to a line running deep across my palm that faded near my pinkie like the river had run dry. “We call this line Death in a Foreign Land.” I’d looked up at her, worried, and she’d smiled. “It’s the mark of a traveler. In the old days, when a man left home, he rarely made it back again.”
But so much of my journals are filled with the dream of going back again. And so many journals before that are filled with the lust of leaving.
Here in Mexico I feel everything opening up, like how petals uncurl to catch the warming sun. I’m scribbling notes and noticing things again. I feel creative and uninhibited. This is my essence, the state in which I feel the most alive. I lost it, during those 7-months in the U.S., and I’ve found it, again, at my particleboard desk in Sayulita.
Our time in the U.S. burned me out. I dug my heels in and refused to budge. “I’m not doing this anymore,” I cried to Brian many times. “I just want a normal life.” And yet now that we are settled I catch my thoughts drifting across the oceans. The whole world out there keeps calling, as it always has, for me to make its acquaintance.
Maybe Mexico is the end and maybe it is the beginning. Or, more likely, it is something in between. Like the rain that washes the heat away, I can feel a new season slip in.
The sky after the rains.