Tracing shapes with the spaces around them

(Santiago – less of a destination than a pause along the way.)

This is not me catching up on my 365 project. (I do have photos… un montón! Soon!)

This is not a description of the Camino, of the End of the World and monumental shifts, of transatlantic flights and preparations for a new job.

This is not a collection of the sights and sounds and smells that are floating around my headspace, both more vivid and more distant now that I am back in more familiar scenery (which in itself has become both vivid and distant.)

This is a reminder to myself:

Of how at the time your feet hurt, or sweat was dripping into your eyes, or something was grating or distracting, or the past surfaced like gold mist or a greasy oilslick, or there was just something more exciting just on the horizon or next week or in a few months. How like artists working with charcoal, we look at the spaces around bodies – making shapes by filling in the empty spaces, by shading in the things that are missing.

I was dreading leaving Spain and coming “home.” I had trouble imagining myself falling back into the once familiar routines: driving, alarm clocks, expensive vegetables.

Now I am home and I remember what it’s like to run into familiar faces on the street, to have so many friends show up at the bar that we have to push seven tables together, to go home to my parents’ house for dinner. I don’t feel as displaced as I thought – on the contrary, I feel as though the past year of my life didn’t exist – just a vague recollection of blue skies and old stone, fading into Midwestern cloudcover. I am sad to watch it recede behind me, but I am also looking into the future with a lot of hope – a new job, new students, a house with gardens and a fantastic kitchen, shared meals and wine on autumn porches, a wedding sometime next summer.

But this is not about the past or the future – this is about the present. I don’t want to feel wistful later about how I was too wistful now, losing hold of these handfuls of days.

So for now I am living out of suitcases for a few more weeks, sleeping in the freshly painted nursery of one of my oldest friends while she is growing a new little person inside of her. I am waking up by myself to much needed rain on the window. I am drinking beers with people whose faces I missed, and speaking in my native language. I am making budgets and picking up side photography jobs. I am sketching out the skeletons of lesson plans. I am savoring one more week of sleeping in. I don’t know if I’m home yet, but I am content.


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