The air was heavy with unfallen rain, and my jersey was dirty and drenched in sweat. The family in the car parked across from mine said their goodbyes in Spanish. I was tired and satisfied from running hard and playing hard. As I drove home I suddenly realized I had to turn off the music and drive in silence. It hadn't happened in a while but it came over me so quickly. I missed Ecuador.
I had flashbacks to soccer during rainy season. To walking home in cleats and shin guards to eat my weight in a late dinner. To tin roofs and high walls. To a sun that shines closer and a world that moves slower. To rich, warm coffee and people with dark hair and dark eyes.
And I had this distinct awareness that I carry this inside of me. When I walked by the display for the upcoming Latino Heritage Celebration at the school I coach at, I looked for my flags. My flags. When people speak Spanish there is a place inside of me that feels warm and comforted. When the other coaches are yelling "goal" I realize that I am yelling "gól". When I say my name to myself in my head it is in Spanish.
I don't usually miss Ecuador because the memories and people that make that place to me are gone or have changed. But that place is a part of me. Those mountains, now etched into my skin, have been etched into my heart for a lifetime. It can be uncomfortable to carry around though.
Yesterday, when it hit me, I drove home in silence, trying to learn how to sit in that moment and allow that part of me to actually be a part of me. I let myself miss those places and moments. I don't know if I did it well. Did I stay too long? Did I let go too quickly? I'm not sure. I'm still learning how to balance this world and the ones I have left.
I hope I can go back to Ecuador one day and see my mountains, smell the rain, breathe the thin air.
What places do you carry in you?