Wednesday, May 17, 2017

stranger in a strange land

Sunset on one of my evening walks
It's been almost 17 years since I moved from California to Albuquerque, and yet there are times when I still feel like a stranger in a strange land. My friend's children who were infants and toddlers when I moved here are now young adults and this is "home" to them as they have had no other. I can be walking around a familiar area, perhaps going to a restaurant in Nob Hill, or hiking up a familiar trail, or even walking around in my own backyard, and suddenly I am struck by the wrongness of it. "Where am I, and what am I doing here? Shouldn't I be going home yet?" is what I think in the brief seconds of disorientation, as if I have been on a vacation that has lasted too long. A month ago, I went on a business trip to Denver, and when the plane touched down I thought "ahh, back home..." but when I stepped off the plane, I had that brief almost unconscious sense of "Oh wait, I'm back here...this away place where I've been living."  Then this morning, walking around my backyard, I worked on a few things that needed to be done, like trimming the Nepeta 'Walker's Low' back and deadheading the roses, but feeling almost like I was working in someone else's yard. These were the wrong plants. What were they doing here? Or maybe they were the right plants, but they were not growing in the right way (why do they look so sad?). Or maybe they were the wrong plants growing in their own right but strange way. The light was way too bright, and somehow the wrong color. Where were MY plants? Where was MY sky? Where were MY trees? Maybe I was having a migraine. Or a stroke. Or a mental breakdown.

I saw the star jasmine that had surprised me by surviving through the winter. It had opened its first flower this morning, and as I bent down to sniff the single tiny flower, it struck me that I was homesick. This was a plant that was practically a weed in California. How could I be homesick after living here for so many years? It's not that Albuquerque doesn't have it's beauty. It does have its own sometimes stunning, rugged, even otherworldly beauty. I think my brain was focused on the "other." The brain is a strange thing. 

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