Flying back home from Switzerland last night, I was looking out the window of the plane and enjoying writing a blog piece in my head, one completely different from this one.
Because naturally, that fussy fuse-box in my skull had other ideas, and I got a full-blown, brain shattering migraine somewhere over the Atlantic. Arriving in Boston, when the frigid New England air hit me, it actually felt soothing on my blistering hot temples.
I had hardly been able to hold my head up as we made our way through customs, with four large bags in tow. I could barely let the light in through my scrunched- up eyes as we climbed into the taxi, but I think Boston was very grey. But I could definitely feel the cold air biting. Bummer – I had really wanted to savor the sights of this city on our return, but what can you do.
And it’s all okay, because we’re home (almost). And I guess maybe it’s appropriate to experience a brain squeeze when cultures collide and we are smashed between them.
And so today, I move tentatively into the re-integration process. First off, I’d just like to send up a warm hallelujah to the modern, American convenience known as ICE. Yes, I sent for room service, and my coffee was accompanied by a stacked tumbler of icy, cold water. I don’t care if it’s dirty water from the Charles, it’s got little cubes packed tightly into that glass, just for me.
And, I don’t even need to mention that wonderful smile the server gave me as she brought in the tray (very quickly, right after I ordered it.) American service, it’s the greatest.
So, life is good. I should be showered and dressed, making calls and reconnecting, putting together my plans for the week. But no, the laptop calls. It’s become my tether. I’m like the anxious little calf trotting after the mother cow, twitchy when I’m too far from the comforting udder that is the keyboard.
It’s become my root, my center; when I open it up, tapping out the words can pretty much bring everything in me back into alignment.
My American life is swirling back into my veins, like an infusion from some other body, mixing with whatever’s been accumulating in me from abroad. No wonder my sensitive head was throbbing. With the speed of travel, of life, and of our own thoughts they try to catch up with all of it, it’s no bloody wonder.
This was going to be a post about revisiting my past, because I am meeting up with an old friend from college days, tonight here in Cambridge. But my visceral experience of travel always seems to dictate, so I have to just follow along.
Right now, feelings of love flood through me, for my homeland, America, and for The South. Oh, how I’ve missed you.
I’ve missed your smiles, your over-eager attention, your wide open, unembarassed laughter, your need to please.
I’ve missed your frantic pace, the quickness of interactions, the feeling that life is a vibrant thing, best caught on the run.
I’ve missed your colorful faces, the skins of black and brown and pink, and everything in between.
I’ve missed your colorful clothing as well, the bright reds and fuchsias and dresses of canary yellow with purple shoes. The whole tacky, gaudy, sloppy riot of expression that is the American dress code.
I’ve missed your language – the pilot’s nasal Midwestern diction, the honky Massachusetts twang all around me, even the Haitian lilt from our taxi driver – all of it. None of it is ugly Swiss- German, and it sweeps me in with one smooth stroke, and I am blissfully known and understood.
And this morning, lying on a big hotel bed, staring at a wet, grey New England winter sky, I am like a child welcomed back to a mother’s arms, weary and wanting nothing more than to just be home.
Home, where nothing is really expected of you. A place where you can slip back into the embrace of just plain, ordinary living. Just being yourself, no explanations.
And so I’m taking it all in, breathing in and out, inhaling a distinctly more polluted air, but one that smells like home anyway. And it smells a whole lot like chocolate too, since my bags are crammed to bursting with all of that sweet, Swiss stuff.
So, I guess this isn’t really a full-blown post, just a brief touch down on the runway here, and a check-in with you. Just an update to let you know that we’re back. And to say that, even after I thought I might be done writing on this blog, I don’t think I can stay away from it.
I know it’s probably too much, but I just can’t help it.
And now, it’s the holidays, and honestly, how long could I have gone without some serious Christmastime emoting?
And how long would it have taken before I started bitching about public transit?
Thanks to Megan, Liz, Elaine, Dixie, Suzanne, Deb and EjL, for keeping me going. I have to call you out because I really appreciate your dedication.
And thanks always, to Mac, for keeping me in the game. For dragging me, and all that damn luggage through all the connections, without complaint. And for letting me bring back the cuckoo-clock.
6 thoughts on “Rough Landing”
Oh, Beth! Do you always have to make the tears well up in my eyes? EVERY time??
I have been so sad about hearing (in your last Swiss elk) that you don’t plan to continue writing this blog after you return. I’ve really grown to eagerly anticipate seeing your “elk in Switzerland” arrive in my email inbox! It’s one of my favorite emails I ever receive – truly.
There have been times that I’ve attempted to describe our little ECI church with it’s dialogue sermons followed by time for anyone to speak on any topic followed by the Thanksgiving circle for communion where even the littlest kid looks forward to voicing their prayers and accomplishments to the whole circle – as a whole new kind of church.. The people at ECI now know more about me than my own family ever knew. It’s one of the little miracles in my life for which I am so grateful. I feel much the same way about discovering you again through your writings these past months. I’ve gotten to know you all over again as an incredibly wise, witty and faithful woman – at least you renew my faith somehow – and having a second chance to understand so much more about you, what you’ve been through all these years has just made my heart grow three times larger, like the Grinch! I am so touched and impressed by who you’ve become, maybe even who you always were and I didn’t realize it. After raising a couple of very impressive and joyful kids, you’ve tackled this grand new adventure as a world traveller with such bravery and candor… and especially wisdom. I love how your mind works. I love how your heart works. I love you.
I’d like to make a plea for you to continue writing this blog as a way of continuing your journey by observing your life here after being in Europe. I remember my short visit to Paris as real turning point in my life, really pulling so much of myself into focus. I came back to the U.S. and was immediately starved for color, for example. The colors are so nuanced and evocative in Paris. So unlike the colors people paint their homes here, with Sears Red # 101. When did we give our esthetics over to such a limited palette by virtue of some paint executive?? I was also reminded of the things I loved and missed which means my sense of community had taken a giant leap outward in terms of who I call my “own”. A huge change in perspective.
Maybe you will experience this feeling of seeing things here at home as if through the eyes of a fascinating visitor here.
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Welcome home, Beth!! I agree with so many of Dixie’s sentiments in the comment above. So glad you are still writing!!
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I am looking forward to those chance encounters at Whole Foods, the glimpses of you as you run through the neighborhood and maybe even as I am walking the dogs that this time when I look towards your house that I will see your smiling faces. Welcome Home!
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Welcome home. I love what Dix had to say. Enjoy your home, neighborhood, bed, running, get familiar w/home. Settle in and then see about writing again. My love to you, Mac and kids.
Welcome home to the U.S.A.——and please keep writing! You may have thought this blog was your lifeline—but I think I benefitted even more as the reader.
Beth, you have a way of writing about an experience, but opening your reader’s eyes to something much more profound. I am still trying to figure out how you do this…..Amazing!
I wish you and Mac a very merry Christmas, and I’ll see you in the New Year!