I said a quiet good-bye to Guanajuato early this morning, sitting on the bottom step of our callejon. I’d taken a garbage bag down to the dumpster and was waiting for Jack to come around with the car after locking up the house. This makes sense to people who know the city; people and cars take quite different routes.
The city was still dark and quiet. I passed one neighbour walking up the callejon as I walked down; he went into his house without acknowledging me, and I wondered if he was sneaking home after an illicit night out, or if perhaps he was getting home from working a night shift. One cab drove by while I waited on the step, and then Jack showed up, I jumped into the passenger seat, and we were on our way. Tonight, we’re in Laredo, Texas. It was a long day of driving, with plenty of time to think and talk about what it means to have two lives in two countries.
It’s something I think about a lot. I love my home. I’ve lived there for 40+ years. I have a history there, deep roots, and a network of friends and connections that define home for me. But, over the past decade, I’ve spent more and more time in my second home–Mexico–and this morning, sitting on that step, I felt an intense tug in both directions. I’ve come to love this place, the people here are becoming more important to me every year, and even though, after more than four months away, it’s time to go home, I’m not just leaving a winter get-away. I’m leaving–well–home.
An excess of blessings, so what’s my problem? Just that I haven’t figured out how to have it all. Every year, I sever my ties with home in Echo Bay for several months, and though I pretend that it doesn’t matter, that those ties are too strong to break, I sense them weakening. Every year when I return in the spring, I rush to tighten them. But I’ve missed another season of friendship and hardship and urgent debate about the crises of the moment, and you can’t get those back. I will never be entitled to wear a t-shirt that says “I survived the winter of 2014”!
But every year, too, I deepen my connections in Guanajuato, only to turn away after a few months, knowing that—as welcome as I feel, and as promising as these new friendships and connections are—I can never be fully part of a community when I just “drop in” for the winter.
Right now, I’m eager to be back home–in Echo Bay–looking forward to spring and to friends, gardens, walks along the river, days at the lake, book club, writers groups, grandkids, and the space I’ve created over 40 years–the things I turn my back on when I leave for the winter. For awhile, I’ll bask in the comfort and be convinced that I don’t want to continue with this split-in-half life. But by the time fall comes around, I’ll be thinking about Guanajuato, reluctant to leave one life but looking forward to the other–just as I was this morning–and wondering again if there’s any way I can manage to be two places at once.