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:
Two more sleeps and it will be “wheels up” for me. Buh-bye, New Mexico. I’m returning to Chile, two days after my permanent residency visa has expired.
I’ll be entering Chile as a “tourist” for the first time in six years. Whew. How’s that gonna feel?
I guess I’ll find out on Wednesday morning. Since there’s no one renting the AirBnB apartment the day before my arrival, the owner is graciously allowing me to check in early that day with no extra fees.
Last week, on the first anniversary of my son’s death, I took a little trip.
I flew to Kansas City to visit friends. They showed me warm hospitality and took me on a tour of a place that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, Unity Village.
I haven’t written out a formal bucket list, but if I had done it, “Visit Unity Village” would have been on it. Their gardens, labyrinth, and nature trails offer tranquility. Their five chapels offer peace. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be on that day.
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:
Why do people hate to talk on the phone these days?
I could understand it better in Chile, where many people used pay-as-you-go phone plans. They only paid for minutes used. Instead of talking, they used texting or the free app, WhatsApp, to contact their friends and make plans. No one that I knew actually used their cell phone for conversation.
I’m in the US now, where most people have unlimited talk and text plans. We can call from coast to coast and talk as long as we want, but what do we do? We choose text over talk.
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?
When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma. We had a special relationship and I wanted to stay there with her forever and ever, where I felt comfortable, safe, and loved up.
After a visit, when my parents came to pick me up, she would stand on her front porch and wave goodbye until our car passed over the last rise and out of sight. I always had the feeling that she stayed there, for a minute or two afterward, with her hand raised in a wave just to make sure that I, teary-eyed, with my nose pressed against the back window of the car, could no longer see her.
Right, it’s been a month since Phillip passed away. Four short weeks that feel like a lifetime. I’ve had lots of sympathy, condolences, notes, calls, offers of food, help, or companionship.
My friends, both Chilean and gringo, have rallied around, watched over me, and listened to my long-winded stories about Phillip, family, and everything in between. Mostly, I’ve just needed to talk about it. Whatever, “it” is. I am so grateful for their willing ears.
It’s been a strange time. I’ve had almost no energy. It’s slowly coming back, but very slowly. In a country where the party begins at 10pm, I’ve often been in bed, and asleep, by 9pm. I can’t make myself care about what I might be missing.