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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh, The Tragedy of Having All My Dreams Come True




      I had a quick sound bite conversation at work yesterday that made me see my whole world since returning home in a new light.


   I was asked why I am upbeat each time this particular customer comes in. I know it annoys people to see someone so cheerful as I am, all the time…and I grate on people’s nerves quite often because of it.


   I paused, something I don’t do enough, and answered, “Have you ever had a year where your every wish seems to have been granted? That is how I feel this year.”


   I honestly feel that is true to the core of my being. I am delighted to come home to my life here in Sonora when my work shift is done. I race up the road in my borrowed car to be home, loving the slow drive up the gravel drive and the faces waiting for me at the end. My home now is a safe oasis where I feel welcomed, loved and accepted for who I am today. I also love my job, where every shift at my store brings a face I remember, co-workers who crack me up and the sense of community I had lacked on landing at SFO in June.


    I had grown so accustomed to life with strangers in strange lands…places where I found that in many ways there is no true stranger nor is there really a strange land, merely friends and family that one has not met yet.


     I have deodorant in my medicine chest from Italy touting “fresca efficacia” (fresh smelling) and a face cream with sand around the lid’s jar from being taken to the beach in Santa Cruz everyday while Spencer swam in the ocean and I studied for school.  I have my graduation cap and tassel thumb tacked to my wall representing my attainment of my 2010 degree from Monterey Peninsula College. I also suspect it is a reminder of things to come too. More degrees and success to follow.


      I have seen fields and fields of sunflowers in the Italian countryside as they follow the light of the sun through its daily path and lived with loving family in Wales. Wales….where the coziness of life with Miss Kimberley taught me to luxuriate in the indoors even as the days stayed sunnier for so much later in that higher part of the globe. I know what it is like to drop into a land filled with belli italiani, and find family abroad that have so much in common with me it can still make me cry to remember their smiles and going through their family pictures in my beloved Bar there.


     Life here in Jamestown is not a sharp contrast but instead compliments my experiences this year.


     I am happy inside and out. I run home to Ann and Mike, wishing for more hours in the day to watch TV or hear their way of looking at things. Mostly we just play here. When I got here I was in desperately in need of  the Housewife Camp I had fallen into as a way of life. But now I see it as gaining a brother and sister, as well as family. It is just as thrilling as being in Italy, only I am home, where I have not belonged for over 4 years, back in Sonora my old stomping ground BEFORE my foreclosure.


     The strange thing is that I frankly felt suicidal after returning home to the US. I found myself driving along the coast and wanting to hit the accelerator at one point, knowing my pain would end if I just drove a little faster around this turn on highway 1, in my beat up old car instead of slowing down.


      I did not have my son, of course. He had been taken in by family as soon as I landed at San Francisco’s dazzlingly posh airport. His dad had not seen him since leaving us at the airport in Florence, Italy. His brother and sister each lived apart now in areas far away from each other in the state and wanted their week apiece, so I floated around for weeks after coming back to the states.


     Everywhere I went I did not belong. There was a song from Sesame Street that Mike sang last week in his constant show of humor, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong, can you guess which thing is not like the others, before I finish my song?” He was not referring to me but I thought of that time when I had a great sense of "not belonging" after coming back to the states.


     That is how I felt when I started my homeward journey. I did not belong anywhere now.


     I was home but instead of the belonging I had learned to savor from my friends in Valle San Giovanni, Italy…or that homey feeling of being where you understand everyone, something I felt instantly in Porth, Wales, I was completely lost and alone in ways I have never felt since becoming a mother.


   My most beloved family had no idea what I was going to do and seemed to have little faith in my resilience this time. After all, where was I going to live and what was I going to do?


   My home, my pets and my life had been dismantled while I was gone. There was no home where I belonged or could return to at this point. There was no man like I had before and apparently my family thought without him I would sink rather then swim.


     I had no job.  No home….and a car that was falling apart around me as I drove it all over the state visiting. I was in the cold mountain mornings of the Sierras one day drinking in the pine smells with my morning tea or basking in the heat at my little sister’s house in the valley the next.


     Everywhere I went my family was dripping with worry over how I would slip through this one and create anything that could be considered a life now, without even a penny to my name.


     As it was they were slipping me money from their pockets to pay for my gas on this excursion.


      I did not eat as I drove the endless miles to visit, choosing instead to go through whole days without food and frankly not even noticing it. In Italy, often we were penniless and hungry and I did not even feel the hunger pains with so many other things on my mind. Without my Spencer in tow…there was no need for mealtimes.


     I came to terms with my anger at my man. On the car we had 3 images representing Spencer, Manny and I in stick figures. This is a common practice in California but I am sure it will bewilder my international readers, especially my friends abroad.  This is how much we are our cars here…we even put stickers representing the pets as part of the family too in that little personalization of our vehicle-as-home ritual. I drove into Santa Cruz and scraped his image off of the car along with a restaurant’s sticker he liked to take us to eat in Half Moon Bay.


    I must have been a sight ….in the Natural Bridges parking lot where you can only be parked for 15 minutes, but madly scraping away his image from my car with a key...the only thing that I could find for the job, when I realized how good it felt to want to be rid of him. What a catharsis!! As I scrubbed with Windex and paper towels at the back window, I felt somehow free AND angry all at once. I was so happy I guess to be alive at this point.


     It had only been an hour before that I had almost killed myself rounding a bend along highway 1. I knew the stretch well.


    I had not moved back to Sonora since 2008 and missed everything about it.


    Traveling the world had only made the pain of being away from home more acute. Besides I wanted to feel the joy of being amongst family and friends after being among family in Wales and friends that felt like family in my little Abruzzo town in Italy. I think a good chunk of my pain had to do with thinking it was stupid to come back home and want to be where I felt intense belonging.


    There was a moment I will always remember…that sick overwhelming feeling of self disgust, enhanced by contact with well meaning family who had nothing but fear for me, it made me so sick inside. I remember driving highway 1, a coastal road and imagining the ease of stepping on the gas and going over the edge near Santa Cruz, into the ocean. I put my foot on the accelerator, I heard the engine pick up its pace.


    I knew the area well. I knew it was a sheer drop on this bend, having stopped here on another trip a while back. I drew this cliff from another angle and knew this turn would not maim me, it would kill me. The sheer cliff also cut out the view of the road ahead as well. As I aimed the car for the edge, already frightening the car behind me with my nearness to the sky and water,  something colorful caught my eye at that precise moment. It was a vibrant hang glider sailing around the cliff edge…the bright primary colors billowing the top part of the sails had me mesmerized…and I corrected the car unconsciously.


   As I finished the break neck curve that hugged the cliffs along the coast, I found myself suddenly surrounded by the vision of a sky full of colorful hang gliders and parasails gliding over the beach. All over the area, they were every where!! It must have been a club for they were weaving in and out of one another. Some were hooked to surfboards in the water while others seemed to waft and twist as they went spinning down to the beach below.

    I had been so close to taking my own life. I was right on the edge of ending it all, yet this amazing coincidental moment of beauty distracted me and aroused my interest.


    I pulled over and cried, sobbing loudly on the same road I wanted to die on. I marveled at the movement, gently billowing all around me on the beach and in the sky.  You never know what moment of beauty is going to be a life saving moment.


    From that moment on, I have been savoring time and relationships. I cut out what hurts as if my very life depends on it…because now I see it really does...and I am happiest when I feel safe and secure and appreciated…. like I do now…now that I am home.

     Of course all of this was months ago. Now the world is calm and beautiful and I am living in a healthy life here in Sonora. But even the most cheerful amongst us can be amazingly close to a precipice. I guess that is why I am as cheerful as possible at work and home, using all my focus to see what I can be grateful for....I know I can't afford anything else...or to blame anyone else for my lack of dreams...and I also see and feel how important for me it is to find other dreams to reach for, hence my obsession with applying for grad school and moving towards a life that sounds like an even better dream. Living without dreams you think you can reach is a dangerous business...I know first hand.



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