Friday, July 29, 2011


I’m 16. Standing on the edge of a cliff, 25 feet high, looking down at the swirling, colored water below. My stomach contracts in knots of queasiness, my mind racing at all the possibilities--ways to die from up here. But I made a promise, of sorts. I climbed up here. Slowly, I carefully chose each rock, my next step, as everyone watched. Now they’re all waiting. Calling to me. Jump.

That’s what it’s like now.

The moment my mind stopped racing, finished carefully analyzing: the who, what, where, when, how (the why we decided ages ago), it rushed in. Uneasiness poured forth as if from a pipe, somehow split and cracked inside me. Keep smiling. Keep waving. They’re all here, watching you, waiting. Calling out their goodbyes. Get on the plane. Jump.

Last time I did this, it was for just under a year. I was 18. Offer my life to my Beloved, in another country. I cried ‘til my eyes bulged red and dry.

“How long will you be in the Dominican Republic?”
I shrug, quite honestly, “We don’t know.”
At least a decade has passed since my 11 months in Honduras. “I” has become “we”. The stakes seem somehow higher. In principle, it’s all the same—leave your home, what you know. Funny thing is, I haven’t felt home yet. Not since I left my childhood home, flew away. That is what’s feeding my queasiness. I’m 30. Every inch of me—inside & out—is ready to make my home, to be home. Here we go. Jump.

 Part of our PDX 'hasta luego' crew.
 'Hasta luego' crew having our last dinner in Oregon (for a while).
 'Hasta luego' crew helping with our mass amounts of luggage.

My clenched stomach loosened significantly as we boarded our plane in New York, after a red-eye flight that our children didn't sleep on. I triple-checked our boarding passes. Nice-Man who said, "I'll take care of you" when we asked about being assigned seats wasn't kidding. We flew first class all the way to Santiago. Thanks, Nice-Man. Water bottles, pillows, blankets and seats so wide both kids and I would fit in one. Hot towels with a hint of lemon just before lunch. Fresh fruit, brownies, turkey sandwich with avocado. Every need catered to. No wait for the bathroom. Z slept through the whole thing.

We landed 40 minutes earlier than expected. Customs waved us through with all of our bags. No questions. Luis, our host here for the first week, picked us up at the airport. Luggage, kids and three adults piled into his Trailblazer and we cruised down the highway to our new life.

 An "acerola" tree just outside our front window.
 The view from our front window.
 M & Z skyping with grandma.
Our belongings. 
 Just outside the 'throne'.
 Our front living area which comprises a kitchen (you have to really stretch your imagination), dining table and chairs.
 Kiddos relaxing under the fan and getting in a Spanish lesson (aka cartoons on the boob tube). 

We keep getting the same question from people we meet. The same one keeps echoing in our heads and conversations: "What are you going to do now?"
Again, we answer, “We don’t know.” Jump, I guess.

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