It’s the start of a New Year. So much is on my mind as 2019 begins - do we keep walking down this path or do stop and go back to what we know.
The last few days have been quite rough. I remember experiencing this type of sadness and depression my senior year of undergrad. I had invested a lot of energy over the course of 4 years improving my skills as a striker to the point that I really wanted to have more time playing in the matches. With a new coach and a better striker joining the fold, I was re-benched for the majority of the season. Then my Grandmother passed away. I was assured it was for the best if I did not go to her funeral. I wanted to quit the soccer team - what was the point of it all anyway? As a matter of fact I wanted to disappear but the thought of being a quitter was what really put me into a tailspin, a similar inner turmoil that I’m experiencing now.
This trip is an emotional investment; a commitment like a relationship. Do we continue to make improvements to our cabin: a new bedroom for the kids; a balcony; a chicken coop; a better dining area (we were eating on the floor at the beginning) - and to what end? At what point does it become less of a place to live during this yearlong break and more like a home where we start to grow roots?
In ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’ Rebecca Solnit contemplates how Spaniard castaways like Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca went to the Americas to conquer but ended up being utterly lost. For Solnit these strays, “they must have learned their surroundings like a language and one day woken up fluent…They did not reject the unfamiliar but embraced it, in the course of which it became familiar.” So I ask myself do I open my heart and mind and learn to love this place so much that we prefer it and we no longer yearn to return home?
We’re at a crossroads. This month we are privileged enough to have a Waldorf teacher care for our and the neighbours’ children for several hours 4 times a week. This will allow Carlos more time to help his Dad and brother with the cabin construction business, and for me to dedicate time to the studio as a full-time artist. Next month William and Madeline both start attending a Waldorf school in Santa Elena. The prospects are exciting, but more time here means more of losing our former selves.
That’s why I want to turn around and go back to the point that I’ve been constantly reminding myself of all the negative aspects of being here; the noise, the tight-nit close community that impinges on our privacy, the fluctuating identity of the space, having to be always mindful of our impact in the presence of strangers on the coffee tour, to depend on and wait for others to go places. I was so fed up of the latter that one day I took William, got on the bus, and went to the Mariposario just to feel like an independent adult again. I accept this is culture shock. I’m not used to asking five people living around me their opinions as to whether or not we should take our puppy to the vet. I’m learning to be so much more patient: patient with the kids, patient with my husband, patient with my in-laws. Learning patience, speaking a second language, learning to be fluent in your surroundings – all in all is quite exhausting. On top of that I have to force myself to stop thinking negatively, to feel the sun on my face, to enjoy the breeze, to listen to the birds, absorb the vistas, and relish every moment with the kids.
Do we quit while we’re ahead and go back to what we know? Is it quitting if we simply just decide that this isn’t working out the way we expected? Or do we wait? Wait for the unknown and the good that potentially can be? So that’s how I am entering 2019 – on a precipice. Do we take the plunge into Colombian culture and truly embrace all that is yet to be or do we pull the plug and swirl back to the pipelines of American society?