Sunday, November 30, 2014

I've completed seven Nanowrimo novels; one every year since 2008. And although I've said this on the last day of every November, this time I mean it. It's time to take a break from the contest.
I've become addicted to the fun of writing 1,667 words every day without my inner editor breathing down my neck, and this year's novel was the easiest of them all. I finally just wrote it for myself. Did I want my characters to go horseback riding? Off they went! Should they discuss Findhorn in Scotland? Absolutely! There was romance and adventure, but there were lots of girlfriends chatting over coffee -- or beers -- and one character who loved to solve her problems by reading the I Ching.
I guess it took me seven years to figure out this writing thing: write what you want to read. Now it's time to edit what I want to read and see if anyone else want to read it, too!
Thank you, Chris Baty, for coming up with the awesome idea of Nanowrimo. I've loved the last seven Novembers immensely. Thank you, my dear family, for putting up with finding me at my computer when I should've been cooking or cleaning or lots of other things moms are supposed to do. And thanks to all the characters in my head who will be there when I'm ready to do it again.
Oh, and to my brother Dan who hasn't heard from me on his birthday for seven years because it falls on November 30, Happy birthday, bro! Love to all,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Flying Home

It's 6:40 a.m., and I am at the airport, looking at the Andes mountains. The sun has come up behind them. Earlier, for a few precious moments, their greens and browns were visible. Now I only see an outline in the sky -- a high, jagged dark purple pencil drawing against light blue and puffy white. The mountains are what I love most about Cali, and this sendoff feels like a gift. Thank you.
I buy a cup of coffee and wander through the little shops of colorful art and find bracelets my girls will love, thinking of how I didn't give Mom a goodbye hug. I thought we would see each other in the morning, but it was just too early to wake her. Even with the rush of getting out the door it hurt to leave the house without that closure, and now I am even more intent on visiting again.
Dan and I sit in the airport at the foot of those mountains and talk about the trip. How do we feel about Dad and Mom living in Colombia? We repeat the litany. They are in good hands. It's the best for Mom. The caretakers are kind and the home is paradise.
Our conversation turns to the more mundane. Were the beds comfortable? Not really. Did we like being served all the time, not getting to choose our meals? Absolutely. I loved what they had to offer: the juices, the meat, the mashed potatoes, the breads, the very simple salads tossed with oil and vinegar.
The breakfast coffee was perfect, too, I say, but Dan disagrees. He likes his scalding hot. I tell him I will miss the busyness of the place. Having so many people coming and going made me want to get moving, too.
It's time to board our flight, and we fly to Miami and then to Atlanta, where Dan will drive home. Just like that, our time together is over, and it feels like it's ending too soon. I will miss my brother. We have shared a rare and memorable journey.
On my flight from Atlanta to Pensacola, winding rivers reflect the sun and shine back up to me on this airplane as it hurtles through the sky.
It occurs to me that I look forward to bringing my family to Cali, not only to have them see my homeland, but also to introduce them to my parents' new community. I feel like a better person with Chris and the girls. It will be good to be home, and begin to plan the next adventure.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Colombia 9: Goodbye

My last day in Cali. I spend the morning with Mom, Maria, and Lycett while Dan and Dad go to church. I give Mom's helpers little gifts: lotions, scarves, and chocolates I brought from the States. It's apparent the tokens are woefully inadequate, and when they are accepted with kind gratitude, I cry. How am I to live like this, with my parents so very far away?
Sara, a schoolmate from Bolivar, takes me to meet others from our class for lunch. It's a welcome distraction, and we have a wonderful time. The food is delicious, the memories are alive, the jokes are light and fun. I had worried it would be uncomfortable -- too much time has passed -- but the connection I feel is enlivening. I've never been to a class reunion, and this must be what  I've missed: a shared feeling that a piece of our history is not gone, but lives on in a new way.
Another visit, to family friends who have known me since I was two is filled with laughter and catching up. "Aunt" Loraine is from a small town in Alabama and she married a Colombian, "Uncle" Simeon. They've lived in Cali for decades, through good times and bad. They both are contending with health issues now, but they are as energetic and entertaining as always. It's amazing to see them thriving, discussing chemotherapy like it's an unruly pet.
Dan and I go to a popular Panini hangout to swap soccer stickers and mix with CaleƱos. I like helping others get the stickers they need and sharing their enthusiasm about a soccer player from Cameroon, but I'm antsy to go home. I'm well aware that my time with Mom is slipping away as I stand out here studying a man people say survived the plane crash of 1995.
Finally home, Mom, Dad, Dan, and I spend the evening together watching Spanish television. Dan and I have a few presents for Mom, and then it's time for bed. As much as I don't want tonight to end, we all need sleep. 5 am is departure time. I give Mom a hug but don't say goodbye. I'll save that for tomorrow.