I’m currently sitting on my grandmother’s porch. It’s early June, the birds are singing like they do in the movies, and there’s a light summer breeze that contrasts well against the flies that swarm around me. I’m rested, but I’m also running on low battery- on my computer and my mind.
A few days ago, the whole family got together to celebrate my grandparents’ 70th anniversary. It was beautiful. My dad led the ceremony and they renewed their vows in the same chapel, my grandpa wearing his same wedding suit and my grandma wearing her same wedding earrings. The pianist who played at their wedding played two songs, and more than 100 people came through the reception afterwards. It’s special to be a part of something that started way before I was even a thought. I think of the steps and decisions and changes that have happened in their 70 years together. The houses they built, the family they started, the businesses they grew, the places they’ve traveled to… How do you collect seven decades of a life with someone else? What is it like to base yourself in one place, and from that place grow a life?
My thoughts lead me back to the porch where I write this. I see the pond across the backyard that sits full of water, the tall pine trees that Grandpa planted, the metallic wind mill that’ll stand still until tomorrow’s summer rain. I think of the lightning bugs I caught as a kid by the garden and the winters where my siblings and I slid down the hill of snow. We grew up here, sporadically; even though we grew up in many other areas, too. I continue to fragment my life in places. After a year in Texas, I’m moving back to my other home in Madrid, Spain. The decision was hard, but I feel confident about it. I’ll write about that another time. But until I make the move next week, I’m here in my home in Iowa.
I’m still trying to understand the ins and outs of life up until now, between three countries, seven cities, and about a dozen moves. I was at a friend’s wedding in Mexico a few months ago and it became very real to me that this reality is still something different, something I’m asked to respond and explain, even if I myself have come to terms with it. My friend’s husband is French so there were Europeans, Latinos and a couple of Americans scattered about the wedding party. Someone asked me why I knew English so well if I was from Spain, and I went onto explain that my father is American. He assumed my mother was Spanish, and I corrected with a smile: “She’s Brazilian.” He and the group of guests around us kind of laughed and he blurted, “Your life is crazy!” To which I laughed and slightly nodded my head, too. I remember it’s kind of different.
I love the life I have, even if it breaks and bends and stretches often across the map. I like understanding different ways of thinking, expressing myself in other languages, and picking which things from each culture I want to assume into my daily life. But things can be complicated, too. Behind the travels and experiences, there are hard and stressful decisions, the feeling of rootlessness and its consequential loneliness, the grief of goodbyes and missing out, emotional fatigue and struggles with mental health. I’m learning to love the hard parts as much as the good.
The night before I left Texas, I laid sleepless in my bed wondering about it all. Loneliness tries to creep in and make its stay when that happens. I know that I’m not alone in all of this, but sometimes it feels that way.
This time, though, I fell asleep to a simple and comforting idea:
“Don’t try to understand it. Just share it.”
Just share this strange space, this life between homes. Hence the beginning of these letters in transition.They are for you, for me, and for whoever else finds themselves in this “in between”.
I hope you’ll follow along.