Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Bob Marley Poster, and other things

Coming home to Florida this time was different. The suburban roads were memories, not boredom -- the time my car slid across a highway in a hurricane, the trail where my friend Kent and I biked across the county on a hot day. Within hours of landing, I lay on a hammock in my backyard by the river, listening to wooden wind chimes, appreciating the details.

And I'm back in my room -- it's garish, orange and pink -- looking at photos of prom, my corsage from homecoming, snapshots of reggae night in Gainesville with a bottle of PBR. Diplomas, poems, bucket lists. I try on old clothes and make a Goodwill pile, hanging on to an ugly pink strapless dress from 8th grade.

A precocious high school friend always quoted this Spanish poem. I don't remember who wrote it, I think Neruda, but it essentially said that you don't know how far you've traveled or who you have become until you come home again, seeing your country with new eyes.

I read diary entries dating back to 4th grade, and realize that some things haven't changed. Some of the things I hated about myself are still painful insecurities fifteen years later. Recurring themes of hating my reflection, not knowing what to say. Crushes that still make me feel a little bitter, "best" friends that were never sincere.

Then there are the dreams -- I wanted to be like Mother Theresa and I wanted to be a writer. I guess halfway there isn't so bad. On my list of Things to Do (when, at what timeline, who knows?) there are things I've crossed off: "Publish a Photograph", "Live abroad alone", "Go to a temple that requires lots of hiking", "Be somebody's role model". I have India to thank for so much of that -- I always have India to thank.

In a box of letters that I've saved I found a passage about education that my dad sent me in college. I didn't know then how my ideas would change, how I would come to see education as something completely separate than a school or university. How much I would support the subtle buzz of revolutions -- trying to find the "yes" in the Occupies, the Tahrirs, the anti-development movements.

There are things missing at home -- the sound of the tag on Louie's collar, clinking when he drops his head to the floor. A blueprint of Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel is replaced by a striking black-and-white of a cobbler at a temple, taken by a friend in Chandigarh. Everybody is a little older, a little more anxious from economy, health, jobs. The bathtubs are leaking, and the faucets are quirky.

And yet, I've never been happier to hear the rush of wind in the huge Jacoranda tree, or the steady waves against the dock. After living in so many homes in the past two years -- whether out of backpacks, or second-hand dressers -- my house is a reminder of the continuity, of the connected dots.

1 comment: