I belong here and there.
I belong anywhere.
I belong everywhere.
Today marks two weeks before my departure for France—by the time you read this, however, I probably will already be there—and I have been in a strange mood for days now: I miss “home” which leaves me somewhat conflicted.
For me, where is “home?”
Home is here in Arizona where I have made a life with my Love—or hubs as I like to call him. Arizona is where my children were born and where we raised them. Arizona—for all intents and purposes—is Home.
I know this fact on a cerebral level.
Home is Here.
Home is where I am right now typing these words.
Everything around me is familiar because it is mine or related to me. My clothes are in the closet, the mess around the bathroom sink is mine, my name is on the deed. My last name is the same as for every family member under this roof.
Here is where my grown children come back to visit.
Some of my kiddos have never known any other home. They were born here within the sanctuary of our bedroom.
In semi-darkness, they slipped wet and squishy into loving hands. Their first intake of breath, followed by a lusty cry, and then, soft mewing sounds as they were comforted in my arms against my skin. Content, welcomed, loved. Here.
Here is home.
Home is where hubs is. The man who has loved me for over two-and-a-half decades. He is Home. Our children are Home.
I know this.
So, why this unrest within me?
No one who lives here knew me as a child—not one.
There are parts of me which feel unknown to those around me. Events, words, customs, places, people that make no sense to anyone but me.
My heart battles within me.
I feel part of Here while I am also part of There.
I feel “other than.” A plant transplanted from one garden to another. A plant in the wrong climate. Someone who does not quite fit anywhere which is funny because I first came to the United States because I felt I belonged here.
Now, I am not sure I feel I belong anywhere.
I am Here but from There.
My feelings are not unusual. Many individuals feel they don’t quite belong.
When I go back “there,” I also feel “other than.”
When I travel the old streets of my town, I am keenly intimate with all the nooks and crannies. The old city is all too familiar to me. Yet, where I always used to encounter familiar faces, I now see few individuals I recognize and fewer still who remember me.
Most assume I am an American tourist and I am often complimented on the quality of my French—which is quite humorous.
When “There,” I don’t want to remain because home is Here.
Although part of me is from There and I cannot make that part fit Here.
Maybe, I feel blue because my parents are gone. All the people I knew as a child remain in France, and aside from our children, our family here is not close.
I do feel like I am other.
I feel like the foreigner I—in truth—am.
I think it is this lack of belonging which leaves me unsettled.
Change Is Coming
My kids are growing up and will leave one by one, and I think I fear what will happen then. I made myself a family. But, this family of mine must change and evolve as all things must.
I wonder, what will remain?
Maybe it is this sense of change which has me unsettled and feelings unfettered.
One day, the kids will be gone, and there will be no one who knows me…except for hubs. Always hubs. The man I love and who loves me.
I envy my best friend who has a close-knit family. There is a monthly birthday celebration for every family members born that same month. There are grandparents still, and parents close by…a world I forsook to be Here.
I am left feeling like I have one foot in each country, not fully from Here or There.
This strange feeling of not belonging is one which leaves me agitated…and dare I said it? Afraid.
I feel weepy.
The fact that September marks the anniversary of our daughter’s passing—I am quite sure—doesn’t help. The fact that two of our sons will visit with their family for far too short a time only to leave again does not either.
Does one ever feel complete, whole, with a strong sense of being seen and heard?
I left France because I didn’t feel I belonged.
I escaped wanting to find my tribe—Here.
I made a tribe, and now my tribe is stretching and changing. I know that nothing is within my control. Life—like a river—flows and we can fight the current or we can relax and enjoy the journey.
Some parts of the river are lazy, and other parts have rapids. It is ever changing and ever moving. It is unpredictable, and we cannot prepare for any other it, even though we wish we could.
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
All we can honestly do is be fully here, present, this moment only, with gratefulness, grace, and love.
We can inhale deeply and then exhale even more deeply. Slow, steady breaths laced with thankfulness. We can take it all in.
We can experience this crazy and magical life fully and gratefully.
Then, we continue to move along our river and repeat the process.
It all comes down to trust in the process.
Seeing Familiar Faces
I am looking forward to going to France as I will look forward to coming home.
I can also continue to ask questions which bear no answers. I can wonder about the “what ifs” and “if onlies” ad nauseam.
To what point?
All that is true and real is what is HERE now.
All my choices are like beads on a necklace which got me Here now. Choices strung one after another to form the life I live Here and Now.
And truly, my life has been amazingly beautiful. I have been blessed with much love. Yes, my life has been—and is—peppered with heartache and hardships as it is for everyone.
Nevertheless, Life is more beautiful today than it has ever been because I feel so very awake and so very alive and so very grateful.
I have found Love here.
Not just warm and fuzzy feelings which fade but Love.
Complete acceptance as I was, as I am today, and I venture to say as I will be.
It is okay to acknowledge that there is a part of me which is not from Here. All these pieces and parts, the funny one and the sad ones alike, make me Me. Who I am today.
Any other choice would have birthed someone else.
I am the sum total of every choice—as you too are. Good. Bad. None of this ultimately matters.
This life I live is my river. My journey.
Some days will find me smiling, my face upturned toward a blue sky, peppered with lazy white clouds, a cool breeze caressing my skin, my eyes closed against the brightness of the sun, with a soft smile on my lips, and a grateful heart within saying “life is good!”
The next bend might find me hanging onto the boat, my knuckles white under the strain of keeping the raft upright, my face squished against the intensity of the ride, my eyes open wide with fear, and my heart beating wildly within my chest.
All of it, part of my life.
All of it, making me who I am.
And, meanwhile I would prefer a continuous, lazy, enjoyable ride under perfect conditions, the journey is unlikely to be so. The rough spots make me appreciate the sweet parts all the more.
In truth, it is not the hard parts I don’t want. I know they are bound to come. What I do want is the ability to remain serene and grateful in the midst of my life—all of it, the good and bad.
Writing Is Therapy
Observing my unrest has been helpful.
I obviously made choices which got me Here. There are consequences to being Here as there are consequences to every decision.
It is fear—and nostalgia—which makes me question. And in truth, I shouldn’t question that which cannot be altered.
Fear is a liar.
I am so blessed to be able to go back to France to see the faces I love and which I do not see often enough.
This river ride of mine is teaching me about love like no other and how I have so enjoyed growing in love.
Writing never fails to be an excellent counselor and a wise master. Stringing words together makes my thoughts clearer and never fails to ferret out the missing pieces which render the puzzle complete. The muse delivers the ideas in which I find my answers, and in the end, I find peace.
Others would turn to other avenues.
For me, it is the alphabet rearranged which soothes and teaches.
I am now comforted in knowing others feel as I do, or have, or will.
It is an untruth to think we are alone, for others feel the same. In a book, I read back last November, Buddhist nun Pema Chodron taught on two practices called Lojong and tonglen. I find one of these practices very helpful and it is this: to realize others have or are feeling as I do.
This feelings of connectedness to others is soothing even if they are not aware of me and I do not myself know them. Just the Knowing…we are in this with others is beneficial.
In the end, in the wondering, and the questioning of my emotions—without feeling the need to judge them, but instead in the acknowledging they exist—there are lessons to discover.
This is life.
It is beautiful, and it is quite tricky. A mixed bag of fun and sadness. And, while we would love to only experience glee, it is not possible.
Maybe—as much as I hate to admit it—it probably isn’t recommended.
Salt and pepper.
Black and white.
Joy and tears
Yin and yang and all that.
The growth comes in the midst of this pulling, tugging, and prodding in various directions.
The diamond and the gold are found under pressure, in the squeezing, and in the digging. Gems which we will cherish in the end. Treasures we may even share with those who want to hear about our lessons.
Most of all, wisdom for us.
This wonky ride called life is pretty amazing even when I find it difficult and I whine. Boy, do I whine.
Great news! There are lessons even in my whining…true story.
There are lessons and blessings in the whole enchilada.
In the end, I belong nowhere and anywhere. The choice is entirely mine.