A Process of Unfurling

There are always those first night noises in a new home that take some getting used to, such as the loud clanging as cars drive over a loose metal grate outside our front door. Standing in the garden each morning, I relish the temperate climate and beautiful bird calls. I smile at the sight of fuchsia roses blooming, but feel isolated inside high walls and loops of wire studded with unfriendly razors. I try to remember that in our apartment in Cairo, I would long for a patch of grass, which we now have in Honduras.


I see a crow flying overhead with a twig in its mouth, nesting just like me. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I live in Central America. I’m not a guest here. I’m a neighbor. This is all part of the transition, acclimating to the newness of everything, and practicing gratitude to buoy myself on challenging days. Making meals from small grocery runs and figuring out what’s near our neighborhood without a car. There must be 8 sets of keys for all our doors and I never seem to get it right the first time. Our alarm didn’t work upon arrival because “someone stole the fiber optic cables a few days beforehand.” My broken Spanish fails me, and I feel defeated, until I remember I have Google Translate on my phone, but then hear in my head the repeated advice:  “don’t take your phone out in public.” Sigh. One step forward, two steps back.

It’s overwhelming trying to ascertain what are the real dangers vs. those just perceived? Can I really not walk around the city during the day at all? “Absolutely not.” and “Yes…before dark, but no jewelry, no purse, and dress down” are the different answers. So, I make the choice to venture out on foot, albeit carefully, and buy myself flowers at a tiny roadside tienda 2 blocks from my house.  I return with a sense of victory. Is this ridiculous behavior on my part? Is my reaction? I don’t know yet, frankly.

It’s always about 3 weeks into these international moves that something shifts for the better. My mind that has been racing starts to slow down, my thoughts no longer like a skittish cat. We have found good coffee, sleep comes more easily, and we are feeling more centered. My body that has been on high alert and achy from moving furniture starts to relax. I can begin planning beyond today and a process of unfurling happens incrementally.

Happiness in life really is about the little things. I get out with some great women for lunch and we explore a lovely pueblo outside of town. I make my first Honduran purchase, a pretty hand-carved lantern made of clay and green marbles. It seems fitting, this gift of illumination for our home.


On a second outing,  I venture downtown with another expat who has lived here a few years. I’m elated by the pretty architecture, careful landscaping of a gorgeous courtyard, the rich history, and colorful markets. Too, though, there is peeling paint, graffiti, areas of abject poverty, too much litter in the river, and the story of a bus driver who was shot for not paying taxes to the extortionists. Like any relationship, in committing to a new country, you get to know the good, bad, and the ugly. (I usually end up falling in love with these countries, even the tough ones).

The house is settling in a bit with the arrival of our art, books, photos, carpets, pillows and blankets, pots and pans and favorite coffee mugs. Things that make me feel more like me. Organically, we have all quietly created spaces in the house that are “ours.” An office for Brad, a toy room for Ramsay, a writing space for me. And today, I got out my fountain pen and my journal, a sure sign that everything else is okay and I have time now to sit and ponder, feeling fortunate to be a part of this very interesting life in this new place. The journey continues… oxoxo, Tracy





10 thoughts on “A Process of Unfurling

  1. D am thrilled that you are writing Carpe Diem once more! I can’t wait for the next one! (Always so wonderfully descriptive as well as intriguing) Love and hugs from your very proud. Mother


  2. Mmmm. How lovely you paint the picture of your first experiences in this new place, dear Tracy. Thank you for taking the time to create this and to share it. I feel like I am right there with you peaking my head into the street beyond the razor wire, wondering if now is a good time to make a run up the street for more flowers, knowing hot coffee and the writing desk are in the house behind me. I feel the sun and the trepidation. I appreciate your vulnerability and your vivid way of sharing. Warmest and fondest love to you, Tracy. -Katharine


  3. Thanks for sharing this Tracy. After reading the sentence, my reaction was “wait, no, we just started, I want to read more”. The piece also left me with warm feelings, perhaps because I find your writing so gentle and caring. I am away from my family (on a work trip) this week suffering a cold and jetlag. I guess I will try to sleep now thinking about the fun things in a gift shop I purchased a fairy costume for Sena today. Stay safe, and warm hugs to Ramsay and Brad.


  4. Tracy your word pictures are so real to me. I will be looking forward to more articles. They will soon see what a wonderful addition your are for them. Love to you all. Stay safe. Love, Beverly


  5. Tracy- I love your raw reality of uncertainty and cautious courage. I love your dichotomy of the beautiful blooming roses against the tall, secure bob wire concrete wall! What an image! You, however, have such a wonderful, natural way of holding your family together by creating a warm, glorious home no matter where your feet land. I know within time you will come to love an treasure all of the new memories, experiences and friends that you will have there! Missing you and living vicariously through you!


  6. Wonderfully descriptive, a little scary, and a unique insight into the trials of changing countries. Wow: Unfurled–while collapsing, I expand. A unique image, indeed. Thanks for sending this. I am reviewing your earlier stuff. Glad you are keeping this going.


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