I arrived at Goleta International airport on 4 p.m. on the 23rd, into Clare’s arms. She had been home for three weeks, having flown from Managua, and took me to our new palatial imitation apartment downtown, which she had filled with all sorts of lovely dishes and utensils and cups and beds the likes of which I’d never enjoyed in a house of my own before. Our place is on De la Vina, between Anapamu and Figueroa, and has a porch from which to hang a Brazilian hammock bought in Bolivia.
I’d spent the previous three days with Mal and Mary Parker in Oro Valley, Tucson, Arizona. Mexicans call Tucson “Tuke-SONE”, which is always fun. Mr. Parker was my Spanish teacher for four years at San Marcos, and I owe him a great deal of my interest in Spanish today. He went to Mexico seven times this year, and we spent our time watching his home movies and some real ones. Perfume is nothing short of incredible, but No Country for Old Men was not as good as Tim told me it was, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was only funny for half an hour.
Everyone in Mexico and Arizona wished Clare had come, and looks forward to meeting her. I completely understand her wanting to visit Mexico properly; I feel the same way about Brazil. Thanks to Clare, coming home has been an even bigger treat than I had anticipated. I felt at home the minute I walked into our new apartment, the rent for which we hope to only have to suffer until Dr. Lynn and her husband-to-be Danny No Hangers move from the cottage at Clare’s parents’ house to Fiji, or something.
My few days in Santa Barbara have been spent opening presents, delivering a few gifts acquired abroad, playing Scrabble with Grandma Smith, catching up on the latest heartwrenching news from Lompoc, riding the Brown Pride Root Beer Rocket, and looking forward to seeing everybody that I haven’t yet seen. Naturally, everyone wants to hear stories about the biggest/craziest/coolest schlep on the big schlep. And naturally, I rarely feel able to satisfy. Of course, there must be things that sound at least as cool in the retelling as they seemed when we lived them, but I am never able to call them to mind on demand. Only when I sit very still and think about the 10,000 or so overland miles traveled in the last four months do they come to me, and come they do, like flood waters.
My few days with Mr. Parker helped me realize this. He would ask me about something, and I’d say I dunno, but in this other place they do it like this, and he’d say holy crap you’ve been there, too, wow, my god, you’ve seen so much, you lucky little bastard, and I’d realize that what we did was really a great thing, even if I haven’t yet mastered the telling of the story. But there’s also the letdown, the defeatist notion that the stories aren’t worth telling, either because other people won’t appreciate them or because it doesn’t matter if they do or not. There’s always a little of that to overcome, that feeling that as soon as something ends, it’s as though it never happened.
The big schlep did happen, though, as this blog shows. And I’m thankful for the friends and family who convinced me they were always waiting for the next pictures or writings, for it was those people and those people alone who ever moved us to sit at a cyber cafe computer and put something down that will never go away. So here are many thanks to everyone who encouraged us along the way. May all your schleps be big.