I think almost everything we do is an attempt to discover or reinforce a feeling of home. It’s a bit of a paradox that when I moved to another country, across the Atlantic ocean and into the arms of Andalusia, I slowly came to experience that the location of home is inside of us. Where you find yourself on the globe doesn’t give it to you or take it away. But it’s the outside things we’re doing and yearning for that inform and impact the relationship to our interior lives. I knew this to be true conceptually before I moved to Spain, but experiencing it is another landscape entirely. I’m so appreciative of how living in El Puerto de Santa Maria changed me that I even personify the region of Andalusia, as in, “I miss the kiss of that ocean,” or the above comment about moving into the arms of Andalusia. At times, it did feel like a mighty person holding me, inviting me to chip away at the exterior pieces of myself I clung to with such tenacity. You’ll notice in the poem below how likely we are to make plans for what we think will happen, and how our deepest yearning is always mixed into the hope we have for a new place, a new plan, a new anything.
Driving north with a smooth interstate underneath me,
I hope the city exits I need take their time.
I’m 31 and moving across the ocean, with a skinny, wiry thought
that brings the feeling of mortality to my chest.
But who do you tell in a moment like this?
If I had told Rumi, I think he would’ve said,
You are sheepish and half-wincing with the love of your beloved.
He would retell how I sneak away from sweetness
and go thinking about death instead,
hoping my beloved is tucked and hiding in the sunflower-y hills of Andalusia.
How many of us would rather go there, than inside?
Before I made it to the interstate,
I had left the home of a newborn baby,
where we talked about brises and souls.
And on the ride home I make agreements:
In Spain, I’ll peel off the sticky machinations I no longer need.
I’ll leave them in a train station, toss them in the Mediterranean,
place them in my lover’s eager hands.
I still believe salvation comes by shedding a certain number of clunky things.
I arrive back in the city and park my tiny Honda,
gazing at the glow of the seven-letter Safeway kissing my sidewalk.
I bow to the wisdom that stands before crazy
and say, “It’s me.”
I decide we are born with death, with thirsty rumble strips
under our sulking legs, betting that any shimmy of the wheel
will finally deliver us into the greenhouse of living things.