I am sitting in a hotel room, far, far away from my regular life. 

I am in Puerto Rico for work.  I have been here for days and will be here for days more.  I am here for work, although I am doing a job that is as far away from my regular old job as it can be.  I am wandering around a backstage area, on a radio, managing a production with people from my organization with whom I barely ever speak.  I am waking up hours earlier than I usually do and going to sleep hours later than normal too.  Tonight, I went out for dinner with some of my dear work friends but instead of our normal cheap but good fare, we splurged for a $100 (a piece) meal and a $60 bottle of wine.

Max is safely tucked away in the arms of our loving community.  When I call him several times a day to check in, he is quick to say his “I love yous” and jumps off headfirst into the activities that feel so much like home to him–wrestling with Jeff or swimming with his best friend Jake.  I am thrilled that he feels so secure without me.  It bodes well for the future.  It makes me feel somehow more safe myself.

I could be someone else entirely.  Someone who is not a mom.  Someone who is not a labor union organizer.  Someone who does not pinch her pennies to pay for swim lessons and a pool membership.  I could be a roadie on some production crew, a script writer, a wild salsa dancing woman with a disposable income.  A very important person with credentials.  I could be anyone and anything.  I know it is true because here in just a matter of days I have reinvented myself–if only for just a short while.

The only thing that grounds me is my polar fleece.  It smells like clean West Virginia air and the campfire I sat beside all last weekend.  It smells like community, like my son’s shouts of discovery.  It smells of streams that we forged together and of bourbon sipped slowly after Max was asleep.  It smells of dreams and hopes and aspirations that were all sent to the heavens as we stirred the coals and watched our breath form clouds even though it was late May.    It smells of love–love of my life exactly as it is.  It smells of home.

I am in Puerto Rico in June but you would not know it.  The Convention Center where we plan our show is the temperature it will be when it is filled with over 3500 people.  I wear my fleece all day and clip my radio to it.  I carry it with me the way castaways carry that one remnant of home–the pocket watch, the faded picture, the broken locket.  I sniff it and sense how each day the fleece smells more and more like airconditioning and less and less like home.

I feel so far far away.

And yet, it is here that I see myself so much more clearly.  I watch myself with wide eyed fascination.  I notice how certain people, certain events do or don’t ruffle me.  I watch my feelings, my thoughtgs, my ideas, my sorrows pass in front of me like words on a teleprompter.  I chose not to see them but not to buy into the story.  I watch with the detachment of a stage manager.  I am able to step back and suddenly it all comes together.

I am far, far away from (almost) everyone and (almost) everything that I love and yet I am closer to my self than I have ever been.  I breathe and sigh, wrap my polar fleeced arms around me as I walk into the humidity of San Juan in June, lift my eyes to the moon and sing. 

4 Responses to “The View From Far Far Away”

  1. angharad Says:

    its funny how we can try out other selves when we travel from home. it is the good thing but also the frightening thing about travel, how easy it is to shapeshift. but you are right to cuddloe into your fleece, the real you is the one you are at home with.

  2. Linni Says:

    what a great place to be…xx

  3. Jennifer/The Word Cellar Says:

    I love this idea that we can be a thousand things. Well, I guess if I’m honest, I love it and I hate it. It’s so hard for me to settle down and embrace what I am at the moment. So often I find myself reaching for, wishing for, running after something else. But I’m learning to *be* where I *am*.

  4. maggie, dammit Says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely.