Field Notes, vol 9
Oh y’all. I’ve been home for ten days, and I’m not sure how I managed to not blog before now. Well that’s not quite true: most of this week was spent helping with my niece who was home sick from school. And the rest of the time was spent inwards: a bit of settling back in, a bit of pouting, and a lot of mulling, while my hands kept busy knitting socks.
Ecuador was magical and demanding and fun and effortless and the trip of a lifetime and a bit mundane; in other words like regular life but magnified. It was also full of people who were so open and charming and curious that I made friends everywhere I went, some connections deeper than others, but all will stay with me. I am so grateful I was able to go: the trip confirmed some truths about myself and deeply challenged others. I’m home now and hope to making my regular life a bit more like travelling: I want to be more open, make more connections, push myself more. I don’t think I realised how self-contained and emotionally protective I’d become until I suddenly found myself reaching out and taking chances whenever they appeared. So there’s that. And I left my heart behind in the Amazon, scattered between the endless stars and towering trees and surprisingly comfortable hammocks and leaf cutter ants and sunset swims and complete lack of mosquitos and the effortless idyll of the lodge and the wild life playing out all around and the people I was there with, tourists and guides, and our instant, playful, true connections with each other. I find myself in a strange place, filled with dreamy determination but even in my daydreams and musings taking care to step carefully around the emotionally raw areas. I’ve barely glanced at the photographs from the trip, worried seeing them will be more bitter than sweet.
And for a little bit I was afraid to read. I knew I couldn’t handle anything confronting and harrowing but even my usual comfort authors seemed suspect: all of those stories about women my age changing their lives and living happily ever after were not what I needed. Nor did I want keen characterisations with powerful, genuine emotions: I had more than enough of my own. Somehow even rereading seemed dangerous: I’d be reminded of my past selves on every page. But after three days passed and I began feeling a bit, well, frantic, I knew that reading would save me. So I opted for comfort as far removed from my situation as I could imagine: Anthony Trollope (I still haven’t finished my Middlemarch reread but quailed before George Eliot’s keen eye). The Eustace Diamonds, the next for me in the Palliser series, proved a suitable cure: while I love Trollope for his gentle humour and dedicated world building, I rarely see myself reflected in his pages. I’ve since read Oliver Sack’s Hallucinations and most of Leslie Marmon Silko’s essay collection Yellow Woman and the Beauty of Spirit. Then I picked up Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow: what a powerful, stunning novel. Not the best choice for my current fragile state, though. I ended up going for a two-hour evening walk in a nearby park, just to get some breathing space.
While there, I was surprised to discover autumn: the bucks have returned, nonchalant despite their fresh antlers, everything is green after the annual summer wilting, and I even stumbled upon the occasional mushroom. I write this with my windows open; thanks to a storm last night, the temperatures have dropped enough for me to turn off the air conditioning for the first time since May. I have begun a historic fantasy novel (The Golden Horn by Judith Tarr) featuring deliciously conflicted characters in gorgeous settings, which I trust will be a bit more of what I need at the moment. And just like that, things have clicked back into place. Writing about my fears and hopes and sadnesses, sharing them with this community which has so shaped and supported me, bringing them into the light, has shrunk them to a manageable size. It is my favourite month, and I trust that I can once again reshape my life, and it is good to be home.
Next time I’ll write about more bookish things. Promise.