Saturday, April 12, 2008

Familiar and Foreign

Home-sweet-home. I open my eyes to morning light, but know I must not be awake. Blinking, squeezing my eyes shut. Time to wake up....I see oak trees outside the window: racking my mind, what country am I in? My mentality is a long time in coming home.

Our last few days abroad were spent in the wonderful bohemian area of Lima, known as the Barranco district. Situated on the coast, just South of the Miaflores, was our comfortable home away from home called One Hostel. Here, I met Melissa. A well-to-do Peruvian beauty with excellent English. We spent a night together out on the town at the new Water show attraction in the center park. Immersed in a gathering of Isreal-ly chicos, eating cinnamon rolls, and luxuriating in the wonderful jibberish of a language I understand nothing.

Mauel and I caught a cab to the aeropuerta at nine in the noche and faltered around paying $60 airport taxes, and using the last of our soles for bakers chocolate, and a tremendous credit purchase of my own. Designer alpacha is worth the expense.

We had a connecting flight to Sacramento from Houstin, Texas and I wandered about the airport blubbering Spanish with a dollar bill concealed tightly in my palm. I needed change to call my Mother. Habits die hard, and it was shocking to hear a nice couple reply that they didnt have change for a dollar, but they may have two quarters. No- nobody wanted to rob me of my 100 centavo bill. I continued in my search at a nearby coffee stand. "Permisso..." I began. Ingoring the blank stare, for I didnt comprehend what it was for "....Tienes cambio para un dolar?" A little laughter from behind the register.

We arrived into Sacramento at 12:40 midday. A scurry for our luggage and brief reunion with my mother, then a shocking catapult into Auburn at 70 MPH along cuatro laned I80, and then a perfect little cafe, Marie Belles. There I was served my fantasy of French toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon. Something that can not be ordered in Latin America: "Desayuno Dulce, porfavor, con tocino y huevos revueltos" blank stares, then "Quieres omellet?"

Our return to Nevada County, California was on a warm spring day. The trees cast their oak, pine, madrone shadows over the winding country roads and Manuel's Incan-beatles cover Cd played over the stereo. Daffodils took lingering dry refuge along the freeway, and the air smelled Oh So Good. It smelled of my life, of my memories, and the shocking reality of familiarity all around me.

Later in the evening, I decided to head into town and see what everyone was up to. I was hassled by bratty teenage girls, "No hablo espaniol," I said to their snickers and confusion of my foreign tongue. I was delighted to find that I could order my tea just the way I wanted it, with my superb comprehension of the native English language. Katie, behind the counter, was very obliging and interested in my knowledge of properly brewed tea at an adequate temperature. I sat a table in the midst of a familiar place, crawling with highs schoolers and older classmates of my own. My nerves were whacked. My heart thumping loud in my chest, my mind reeling with all the understandable conversations nearby. The presence of so much clutter, chaos of American consumption, silly superficial slurs wheeling around me. My hands shook as I tried to drink of my cup. I ran back into the night air, regained possession of Morgain (my blue green Honda Accord) and sped through the night air with fondness for control of the wheel, and deer munching late night snacks at the edge of headlight.