When I was small, my family would go to Albuquerque from Mountainair to visit my grandparents. It was about an hour and a half drive in those days. The maximum speed was 60 mph. Our blue AMC Hornet station-wagon would buzz along over the river and through the desert to grandma’s house. Sometimes my aunt Robbi would be there, or my grandmother’s young friends, and the visit would be fun. Then, after dinner, my brother and I would hop into the back of the station wagon and lie down, instructed to go to sleep during the trip home.
I would watch the lights of the cars on highway, a line of red lights on the right, white lights on the left, as we left Albuquerque, ascending the hills into the mountains towards home. The sun set painted the sky deep orange and purple in the west, the stars would sprinkle across the sky in the east. And as it got later, the moon rose over the mountains. I remember being entranced by the spot of white light that followed us along the side of the road. My father said it was the moonlight reflecting on the train tracks. I looked up at the moon and noticed that it, too, followed us.
I am back in New Mexico, visiting my parents. I always find it disorienting to return to the United States after being in China for a year. Hearing conversations that I understand; seeing signs that make sense; being over-cooled by air conditioning and iced drinks; being overwhelmed by the diversity of choices in food – Mexican, Italian, French, Greek, American and yes, even almost-Chinese. I’m sure the jet lag contributes to the sense of dullness that pervades, perhaps as an automatic defense to the over-stimulation.
But I’m learning some important lessons about finding my center. So much of my life I bounced around, both geographically and internally, from one continent to another, from one relationship to another, from one career to another, always seeking a sense of peace, of fulfillment, a sense that I matter. In the repair work I did post-divorce, I actually did learn a lot about faith and gratitude. But the kind of healing I need to do now requires a Higher Love that includes myself. It means I have to free myself from resentment and anger, and learn forgiveness. So I’m doing the work. I’m letting myself feel those feelings that aren’t very nice, and learning how to let them go. I’m learning how to become more present in the moment and in my body. I’m learning how to love myself with a good diet and through running and yoga. A friend of mine recently recommended a book called Love for No Reason, by Marci Shimoff, and it is both confirming my choices, and giving me new insights to where my blocks are and how to free them.
I feel myself settling deeper into an unnameable place, but one that is familiar. It is the place I remember being on that road back to Mountainair, the moon following us, my parents voices and the radio lulling me to sleep. There is a deep sense of safety and vitality growing in me. So even though I still recognize the differences between China and the US, they don’t jangle my nerves so much. I find I have greater compassion for the people of both countries. So maybe I have finally come home.