the summer before Spain

I didn’t cry for 2 entire weeks after I was born. No, not even when the doctors smacked my bare butt with their latex gloves in an attempt to startle me out of my silence. I like to think that I was being stubborn, that I gave them nothing but wide eyes and wonder to show them that a soul can rest in stillness in the midst of traumatic transitions. I’d like to think that I made them question how we exist in the face of everything unknown and all things uncertain, but I’m pretty sure they just thought I was weird. I’m pretty sure my brain was just trying to tell my body to breathe.

When my twin came out pink and screaming, I came out blue and barely breathing. My mom tells me that Chris did enough crying for the both us during those first two weeks. And no, while my mom says she wasn’t worried, I do wonder what she thought of her mute child and the way I breached my way into the world without sound.

In 7 days I’ll make my way to the Canary Islands of Spain. Geographically, I’ll exist on a small spec of land just off the coast of Morocco. If a world map could hiccup, I’d be swallowed by the slightest involuntary spasm and I’d suffocate beneath the same uterine water that brought me into being.

Physically, I’ll have a 56 hour journey through 4 airports, on 3 different airplanes, the last of which is a tiny propeller plane from the Azores Islands (Portugal) to Gran Canaria Island (Spain), and I’ll endure 2 sleepless nights in over-trafficked terminals.

When I arrive on the island I’ll head straight for a hot shower. I’ll attempt to sleep but I will be too excited to sink my toes into Spanish sand and I’ll collapse on the beach instead. I’ll see old friends, make new ones, visit some of the same places, swim in the same salty sea, sleep in the same bed and wake up to carry out my daily yoga practice on the same rooftop terrace. Much of what I will experience will be familiar and yet, it will all be foreign.

A summer, a season, a story, a single day spent in the sun, a smile–it all changes you.

I will remember this summer as the one where my nephew started talking and named me Auntie Gui.

I’ll remember walking out to the backyard with Barrett, picking him up and shifting my hips to hold his little body against mine as we watched apples grow on trees together, weekly, from April to Almost Edible. I’ll head to Spain while they’re still sour.

I’ll ask my mom or my sister to continue this tradition with Barrett so that he can see, from beginning to end, how an entire season unfolds from a single seed, how beautiful, how slow, how perfect the timing of each blossom is, what it means to wait for something good to grow, how much anticipation we are capable of holding, how nothing evolves into something, and how a single flower begins in a hostile and unpredictable environment–helpless and susceptible to frost and finches–yet is determined to become full of life and, eventually, fruit.

I’ll replay in my mind, over and over again, how confused he was when I pointed to a tiny ivory triangle on a tree and told him that this would one day be an apple. I’ll replay his look of astonishment when green circles started to appear on brown branches and how his hands reached out to touch each one, how counting apples on trees, 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3… felt like a miracle.

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I’ll remember this summer as my grandfather’s last. I’ll remember accompanying him on flower deliveries to funeral homes during his last days, how he watched me place a large casket spray on top of an open casket because he was too weak to do it himself. I’ll remember holding his calm and clammy hands while he struggled to breathe beneath trembling white linens and how lime green lines twitched above and below anything steady on the monitor above his bed. I’ll remember how I kissed his sweaty forehead, whispered a Spanish blessing into his left ear, and licked the salt off of my lips as I walked out of that hospital room. I’ll remember how, a few days later, I spoke words on his behalf and in his honor as he listened beneath the satin covered walls of a closed hardwood casket, grinning at God with crooked, cold lips.

I’ll remember this summer as the one when I fell in love.

I’ll sit on that island, missing everything that was once summer, and let images of apples and absence and awe and everything in between fill my mind and free me to exist fully wherever I am finding myself in that moment. And I will smile.

I don’t know why I am leaving, but I can’t stay.

I feel less excited and less giddy than I did last year when I set out, for the first 7 months of travel, perhaps because Gran Canaria feels like home now.

I am far more relaxed, perhaps because traveling has become a way of life, not once-in-a-lifetime.

If I’m being entirely honest, I feel tired, which is when it becomes appropriate for me to share with you that all of this long-term traveling is not always as glamorous as it may seem. I’ve been writing articles about car seat cushions, superfood smoothies, and sex museums in Vegas to scrape by and fund these adventures. There’s always a trade off. While I make next to nothing for the work that I do, it does allow me to do what I love. I choose to live simply in exchange for stories and sunsets on foreign soil so that I can become speechless and silent like I was when I first entered the world with wonder.

I was 2 weeks old when my body was ready to cry. While my mother doesn’t remember exactly what it was that triggered that leakage, she does remember that she wasn’t holding me. When she heard my first whimper she turned to whomever it was that was holding me and snapped, “What did you do to her?!”

But all babies cry, that’s what she’d tell you now.

I can’t tell you why I didn’t cry for the first 14 days of my little life for the same reason that I can’t tell you why I am embarking on another adventure overseas. I only know that I must go.

I believe, at certain points in our lives, that we are given ushers, like great ancestors, who move our feet for us when we don’t have the strength to do it ourselves, who think for us when we do not have the mental capacity to comprehend life beyond our next breath, who remind us to keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.

Perhaps it is worse to stay where one does not belong than to wander for a while, searching for the things that we require.

Do I want to stay? Yes.

Am I eternally meant to wander? Yes.

We begin by admitting that we contradict ourselves precisely because we contain multitudes. We are vast. 

 

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8 thoughts on “the summer before Spain

  1. These words. So true.

    Every time I read this I am taken by a new line. This time it was one towards the end: “Perhaps it is worse to stay where one does not belong than to wander for a while, searching for the things that we require.”

    As they say in my line of work, “that’ll preach.”

  2. Wishing you the best of everything. Find what your looking for or keep looking. Lots of love going with you.

  3. Hmmmm…I changed my mind…one word describes how I feel: hopeful
    This: “Perhaps it is worse to stay where one does not belong than to wander for a while, searching for the things that we require.” is grounding me in hope right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    ( Crediting you, of course, may I post it to my FB page as a reminder?)

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