The Reclaiming

 

Hurricane Iota hit Honduras the week my son and I returned from the U.S. after a long evacuation. Eight months of creating a home away from home, where there was love and green space and freedom, but without my husband, without a sense of normal, and not knowing when we’d be reunited.

The night we landed in Tegucigalpa, there was wind and torrential rain, but also peace: we were together. The roof leaked in several places, like tears running down the walls. Walls I had not lived in for quite some time, within which I could not find things. Where is the pasta strainer?

I opened drawers and cabinets, rearranged furniture. I put on my favorite fuzzy socks, straightened books, and washed blankets, seeking coziness and order. Re-establishing my presence, reclaiming space here.

Tracita! Bienvenida!” said the store clerk I hadn’t seen since winter. “Donde esta?” she inquired with wide eyes behind thick glasses. The answer felt too big to fit in my mouth, so I said simply, “Away, but I’m here now.”

On the first day of sun, I gathered groceries. I cooked all morning, stacking copper pots in the sink, stocking the fridge with nourishing food. It felt healing and made the house smell good. I missed those copper pots, missed cooking in my kitchen.

We set the table, lit candles, and fostered togetherness, not taking it for granted. Unity. Connection. Hugs. Cocooning ourselves; not hard to do in an era of Covid, but now welcome.

There are a few things I had forgotten about living here:

  • the need to gird my loins while avoiding errant mopeds on the road
  • don’t drink the tap water
  • fireworks-loud ones, late at night
  • how fortified the city is with its high walls with barbed wire

And yet so many things to love:

  • morning coffee and conversation on the patio
  • rediscovering our belongings and creative spaces
  • the palm tree and hummingbird in our garden
  • roadside tiendas selling vibrant flowers, fresh pineapples, and avocados
  • how good it feels to sit at my desk, surrounded by writing instruments, books, and journals

 

….and a million little things about home that hold my heart.

 Love & Light, 

“Tracita” (little Tracy).

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_7697

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.

IMG_7705

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

 

 

 

 

The Missing Bottle of Glow-ness

missingglowness

Hello and Happy New Year!

After lovely holidays with friends and family, I reflect with gratitude that 2017 came to a close surrounded by loved ones. In my journal, I like the newness of writing 2 0 1 8 and its round number as I pen the date.

I daydream about possibilities as the months lay before me, waiting to be filled and experienced. I silently promise myself to make the most of the next four and half months. In June, Ramsay finishes Kindergarten and we enter the Foreign Service vortex of changing countries, schools and houses. The place we will land, however, has not yet revealed to us.

As a planner, this is hard for me, the not knowing. The waiting. The wondering and blind trust in the universe. Will our new assignment be somewhere wonderful? Will we be safe? Which hemisphere and will we need cold weather clothes? Will our living space be cozy and filled with natural light? Will Ramsay like his school? Brad, his job? Will I meet kindred spirits there?

My breath shortens when I think of how quickly the next few months will go, and how peace of mind is easily usurped by the sweeping changes heading our way.  So, I commit to living mindfully and with less resistance; letting life flow a little easier. To take it a day at a time and enjoy the magic in the little daily details, like this one:

Ramsay (almost six) was lost in his beautiful child’s imagination when he came up to me and excitedly exclaimed, “I found it! I found it, Mom, the Missing Bottle of Glow-ness!”  This paper with a small mountain on it made perfect sense to him (and likely had something to do with Star Wars), but metaphorically, I loved the idea of having a bottle of glow-ness; magical and luminous and full of possibility.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Wishing for you a bottle of glow-ness for your 2018, too.

Abundance and Light,

Tracy