Craving the darkness: thoughts on straddling borderlands

Missing “home” is usually shorthand for a number of assumptions:

1. Home is singular, static, permanent

2. What is missed: usually people, food, a favorite shop, the smell in the air, the energy of the place

“Home” to me is a fluid concept.  The curse and the blessing of my early enculturation, my colonial roots, equally at home on either island, manhattan or boriken, not quite at home in one without the other.  Shifting between the epitome of urban, metropolitan, teeming, and the pristine pulchritude of beaches called virgin in the gringo’s travel brochure.  Just as I am equally at ease with either tongue, English or Spanish, but one never fully complete without the other.  Some things you just can’t say in English.  Some things take too long to express in Spanish.

When I have my cravings for what I usually call “home” that moving target that resists roots, fosters wings, and dreams return to, what I miss the most is unexpected.

I miss the dark.

I miss darkness so fiercely it makes my skin crawl if I think about it too much.

I miss unyielding, unrelenting, unapologetic dark draped nights.  I miss walking out my door at night and stepping into darkness so absolute I can barely find my hand in front of my face.  I miss looking up and falling into thousands (millions?) of stars.  I miss the brilliance of a half moon illuminating stark black.

Here the sky is never fully dark.  Urban living (and a delectable touch of smog) gives the sky a sometimes beautiful, sometimes eerie yellow cast.  I marvel when I catch sight of an errant star, straining against the residual urban blaze to shine down on me.

And yet I fall in love daily with the violent blue skies, so blue it hurts my eyes, so blue I hold up a flower as an offering to the sky to see the contrasting spaces of blue between brilliant petals.

I miss rain.

On gloomy days I ache for the release of a summer’s storm.  I miss the sound of rain pounding on rooftops, miss the puddles, miss the explosion of color and light following a righteous storm.  I miss the compelling wetness, dancing in between drops, moist rivulets running down my brown skin.  I miss the birds dipping into puddles, preening and guzzling.  I miss the anticipation of rain, the buildup leading to the gradual satisfaction of pouring rain.

And, when I allow myself to think about it, I miss my mar caribe.  I miss the way it caresses me and holds me, so different from the pacific’s cool hold on my soul.  And yet now I know that I will never be free of the pacific, never be far from it.  I know that it is in my blood now and that, just as the atlantic, brighton beach in a blizzard, icy waves pounding uncertain shore, el mar caribe soothing warm lapping at my bronze flesh, witness to years of dreams, joys, pain, now my heart has also tasted pacific salt: cold shock of the oregon coast and stubborn insistence to make myself welcome, southern california beauty, kissed by the waves sevenfold welcoming me and claiming me.  Home expands as a concept within me.
“The past and present wilt–I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.” Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

and furthermore:

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  Walt Whitman (Song of Myself, #51)

My multitudes straddle fronteras, cross unexplored borderlands, nestle into unexpected pockets of ‘home.’

Mi patria es solo una, but home I build as I go.  An odd amalgam of caribbean breezes, socal cumbia, nyc beats, parisian decadence, chesapeake stillness, rushing boise river murmurs, california expanses of birds of paradise, and those pretty purple flowers whose name I don’t even want to know.  I’d rather name them myself as they tumble down to carpet the ground I walk on, sweeten the air as I pass.  Hope flowers.  Esperanzas.  Suenos.  Ilusiones.  Alma vida corazon.  I name them as I walk beauty on beauty.

With so much radiance and light around me, it’s the stillness and darkness that I crave.

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