Home is said to be where the heart is and, for some, wherever you hang your hat. For me, who doesn’t like to wear hats, home is a place and state of being in which I find sanctuary. Home for me is where I can truly be myself, where it all comes off—jewelry, face, and any restrictive clothing that are called for when taking my persona out into the world.
As an introvert, I am sensitive to environmental factors and too much stimulation. I seek a bright, open house connected to a serene and spacious external terrain. Maybe that comes from a lifetime or two having been incarcerated in a dark, dank dungeon! My Spirit, and no doubt my brain chemistry—that vast network of neurotransmitters and synapses—comes to life when exposed to beauty and sunlight.
For both my husband, Alex, and me—two curious Scorpios—home is our place of refuge to create, study and recline with our feline familiars. Panoramic views inspire us to dream, reflect and expand our perspective of the seen and unseen realms. For Alex, home is where he composes music and does his on-line academic work. For me, home is where I can untangle my thoughts and write.
Alex and I have lived in two idyllic places over our 23-year marriage—in a house in the woods of Port Townsend, Washington, overlooking the Straits of Juan de Fuca and in a tri-level town home overlooking Tucson, Arizona, and the surrounding mountains. External vistas have triggered and mirror the resulting internal visions from which Alex and I create our lives.
We have recently joined the burgeoning ranks of norteamericanos to move to Lake Chapala, in Central Mexico, seeking a more affordable, slower, less complicated lifestyle. We are leasing short term a lovely rustic, two-bedroom, two-story house that offers much of what we desire—a lush private garden, a garage, big balcony that overlooks the lake and vibrant neighborhood, and we are within walking distance to almost everything. However, “rustic” means the house is quite dark, being walled in on three sides. We have added orange salt lamps and our Tibetan artifacts and wall hangings, appropriately alongside Mexican milagro crosses, to warm and create a more sacred space. However, we still must contend with darkness, exacerbated by the overcast rainy season.
So, what to do? We have been looking at long-term rentals for when our lease expires the end of October. However, that’s the beginning of the high season when the U.S. and Canadian snowbirds return, and availability of furnished view houses—and places that will accept two cats—is limited.
The selection and styles of the homes that we have looked at are quite varied—from hacienda style with internal garden view, stark modern to archaic villas, from walled Mexican neighborhoods to gated gringo communities with overlooking second or third-floor miradors. We’re expanding our search to include homes on the outskirts of “gringolandia”, which can offer a wider selection with incredible views and more spaciousness for less rent. However, that move would require more driving, less English being spoken in the local towns and potential isolation.
I know that it takes time, and a village, to feel comfortable living in a foreign country learning its language and ways—and it hasn’t yet been three months! Taking Spanish classes and making new friends help us navigate this new terrain and certainly assist in the process of homecoming. I think this awkward ex-pat “resettling process” is only amplifying that I’ve always felt like a stranger in a strange land, only now it appears literally so.
I see, though may not want to admit, that my challenge continues to be about finding home within that most foreign landscape of all—within my own psyche! David Whyte’s poem below aptly speaks to this desire for belonging:
This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.
This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.
There is no house
like the house of belonging.
excerpt from The House of Belonging