I’m back in New Mexico. Today is day 5 of trying to reset my clock and live in my own timezone. My ambitious goal for the day is to keep my eyes open for the entire time the sun is in the sky. I even managed to stay in bed until my alarm went off at 6am. This is quite the accomplishment. I’ve been waking up at 3 or 4am, wide awake, only to crash at 10am and sleep half the day. My head and my heart are 8,000 miles away.
I was warned to expect culture shock along with the jetlag but so far see no signs of it. Maybe because I found myself on the other side of the world seeing pictures of Southwest saguaro cactus in the Middle East and hearing stories about New Mexico healers and talking about having a Breaking Bad set adjoining my backyard. Maybe because I grew up making regular and rapid cultural transitions. Maybe because I look more for similarities than for differences.
Mostly I feel sort of numb. My life here is exactly as I left it. I send my kids off to school, wash laundry, prep for another semester, clean the catboxes. Today I’m sitting in Flying Star on Menaul, tummy full of eggs and green chile, gulping coffee as part of Project Stay Awake. My life is exactly as I left it. But my heart is still 8,000 miles away. And the details of that are raw and personal. I don’t even know how to process that part, how to integrate it into my regular real life.
So I sleep. And read to my kids. And order my school books. And somehow I feel numb and a little lost and empty. I rediscover just how harsh and dry the New Mexico air is. I scratch until I bleed, my hair is no longer curly and thick, my sinuses over-compensate and my nose runs. But I missed the sun here, somehow in all my adventures I never really noticed how much stronger the high dessert sun is, even in winter.
I’m back home. And nothing has changed. And everything is changed. And I am at a loss for how to explain it. I hold all these pieces, these places, these people in my heart. And I don’t even try to fit them together, to find a coherent whole. I just sit with this fractured reality, this life in which my children, my family, my cats, my grad school contract, my houseplants, my books are in New Mexico and my favorite human, my heart, my partner, my love are in Qatar.
Today I drink too much coffee, enjoy the lonely company of a table for one in the bustle of a busy lunch rush, me and my books and my reading glasses and my laptop. I wait for a text from my sister. I listen to the chatter around me. I watch the traffic. But I don’t know what to say, what I feel, where I am. It’s all so… ordinary, so normal, so much exactly like it all was just one month ago, sitting in this same booth, combing through my final papers, trying to focus my head on the task at hand while my heart counted the seconds untill take off.
Here I am, home again. And in the midst of all these pieces is also peace. There’s a feeling that something in my world has been made whole and right. There is so much I cannot say, parts I’m choosing to keep private, moments I simply have no words for, things better held as secrets for the moment. And this leaves me confused and conflicted. But there’s also this feeling of calm, connection, contentment.
Home is where the heart is. And so my home is split in pieces for now. At the moment there is no way to bring all the pieces together in one place. And I have no choice but to live in this split, to accept reality as it is. I have pieces of home. I came home simultaneously in more pieces and more healthy and whole than I’ve ever been. It’s a strange paradox. I feel like I fumble my words trying to describe this. It’s my impulse to try to make sense and make meanings. But I don’t really want to right now. Paradox has its own beauty and logic.