Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Mountains In My Blood

I was born in Lima, PerĂº, a city framed by ocean and mountains. Not just any mountains, though. The mighty Andes Mountains. I wonder if that is all that it took, to be brought into this world looking out over water and up at rock. If it wasn't enough, the years I spent in Quito, a valley surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, did it. The mountains seeped into my blood.

There is something about when the wind blows and the sky clears, and a mountain stands before me. It reminds me that I am anchored to the earth, that there are things that hold out and hold on. Placement. Protection.

In Pennsylvania I found myself feeling so lost and adrift as I looked over flat cornfields. I could see, and see, and see, too far with nothing to stop my mind and eyes.

When I was flying into Los Angeles my heart heaved such a deep sigh as I looked out the window to mountains and water. This place can hold me, it can be my home.

Malang, Indonesia, on a hilltop practicing riding a scooter on bumpy roads with no guardrails, the sky was clear and there stood a mountain. Yes. I can be in this place, my heart sang out.

My husband and I are buying a house. It terrifies me. I have never owned a house. I have never lived in a house we owned. It seems so permanent and if I think too long, I run out of changes to make, and run into a long stability that I have never experienced or known. I try to think what it would be like to just stay. Stay. To be the person watching others leave. I will do that next month. To know the same people and the same places. To have the same friends as the year before and the year before. What will we talk about? Will everyone get sick of me? Will I be able to do this? I have never done it before.

Austin doesn't have mountains. It has a lake of water and city, food and people. But no mountains and when I think about living here without my mountains I get nervous. But it is appropriate. Buying a house, "settling down" feels like a place without mountains. It keeps going with few and small interruptions but no stopping points. Small changes but with the on and on.

Once in Austria, we took a train down into a town shrouded by fog. We walked, talked, ate and shopped for a few hours, and then suddenly a breeze swept in and we looked up and there was a massive mountain standing, looming over the little town. It had been there the whole time, only hidden by fog, but now with the sun shining down it was impossible to miss.

I got a tattoo. It's behind my left ear. It is small, just a wave and some mountains. Simple. Whispering to the outside what courses strong inside of me. Ocean and mountains. Always a part of my story even if you can't see them. Just like every TCK, carrying their stories on the inside, the things that have shaped them and run through their blood that you cannot see until the wind blows a certain way and the sky clears, their hair blows back, and then there they are. The mountains.

What things make up who you are?