I’ve been here in Chile almost three weeks now. It’s been a quiet time of visiting with friends and getting my feet on the ground.
When I say quiet, I mean mostly “silent.” Compared to my old apartment, which is just a couple of blocks away, this fifth-floor apartment is like a monastery. It took me two weeks to realize that I was hearing the bell and siren from the nearby fire station. All that noise used to rise up to my 16th floor apartment. Now, I barely hear it.
Here, I’m surrounded by other buildings. Outside noises are muffled, and I never hear the cacophony from the street that used to keep me awake at night.
After last week’s blog post, I received the following message from a friend. She’s a repatriated expat, who lived in Turkey for two years.
Like me, she has many doubts about being back in the US. Many “Is this where I belong?” questions. Many moments of “The grass is greener” somewhere else…or is it? What’s it like to go back to find out?
Here’s what she wrote:
Dateline: Santiago de Chile
It’s Saturday night. I’m watching a cooking show on Chilean TV and catching about every third word. My Spanish is a little rusty. The show’s hosts are down in southern Chile, in Puerto Varas, sampling Torta de Murta. It looks pretty darned good. Not sure that I’ve ever tasted murta berries, but they’re as Chilean as Pastel de Choclo, which was yesterday’s lunch.
I arrived here last Wednesday, early in the morning. With only a 30-minute connection in Dallas, I barely made the second plane. My suitcase wasn’t so lucky. It was delayed in transit. After some drama, I finally received it on Thursday evening.
It’s snowing here. Ever so lightly, but snowing. The sun’s trying to peek through, but the clouds are winning. I’m watching the fat flakes fall as I eat lentil soup, bought at the deli over on Nostrand. I will miss being able to walk a couple of blocks to the deli. And the grocery, the bagel place, the bank, the health food shop, the nail salon, the hipster coffee shop.
Next week, I’m going back to the Land of Enchantment, where it’s sunny 280+ days per year and you have to drive everywhere. I might call it a trade-off…if I were a sun-lover.
I have the best problem in the world. What’s good about it? I have many, many friends.
So what’s the problem? They’re scattered to the four winds.
Last week, I read an article about how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends. The article was referring to the life of an expat who was preparing for a move to a new location. The author was concerned about “losing friends” in the move.
Today is the celebration of Fiestas Patrias in my adopted country, Chile. I found this article by blogger, Yeni Oyanedel, which explains why and how Chileans celebrate the holiday, Why Chile Shuts Down on 18 September.
I’m missing out on some of my favorite things, choripanes, asados, Pisco Sours, luscious Chilean red wine, and my beloved Chilean friends.
Here in New Mexico, it’s State Fair time. I didn’t make it there this year, but I’ve heard the announcement of the winners of the Best Green Chile Cheeseburger competition.
This week, my “Chilean daughter” turned 21.
It seems like only yesterday that I walked into her 8th grade classroom for the first time, but that was back in 2009. Francisca would have been 14 then. A quiet teenager, she came to the front of the classroom when I played Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day.”
I wrote about it in A Million Sticky Kisses:
Tomorrow, I will have been back in Albuquerque for four weeks. Seems like yesterday. Seems like a hundred years.
I want to write, but darned if I know what to write about. Do you want to hear about my comparison of bread and cookies? Would you rather hear about how everywhere I turn here something reminds me of Phillip? Can I whine about how miserably hot it is? If I did, would you sympathize with me or tell me to suck it up? ¡Aguanta no mas!
Dare I mention the crazy political climate that makes my stomach churn and leaves me feeling choice-less, voiceless, hopeless, and helpless?
Last night, I dreamed about my son, Phillip. If you’re new to my blog, I should tell you that my son passed away on May 4. In the past, I’d often dreamed about him as a young boy.
I am a vivid dreamer. My dreams, always in color, tend to be wild and crazy. Sometimes, they star strangers. Usually, they’re centered around people I know. I’ve been dreaming about Phillip a lot since returning to the US three weeks ago.
In this dream, Phillip was an adult. He was helping me garden. With the best of intentions, he dug up most of my plants. There was one in particular that I felt sad about losing. It was a hearty plant, a succulent. He had chopped off the flowering top and left the roots planted in the ground.
Back in the US for precisely two weeks now, the one question everyone asks me is “How long are you here for?”
Some people seem to expect a concrete answer to that question, but they don’t know me very well. What I’d originally planned as a visit to the US has now turned into a full repatriation. But it feels temporary.
Those who know me best are not surprised by the real answer, which is “I don’t know.” I can’t imagine not going back overseas.