Home is Where the Heart is, and my Heart is Now with Me

[“House At Pooh Corner” – Loggins & Messina] (Also, I recommend reading “The Tao of Pooh”)

One of the invited speakers during Pre-Departure Training (PDT) at Stanford, Ian Slattery, led a simple, illuminating storytelling exercise: with closed eyes, he said one word and gave us 30 seconds to recall stories that were triggered by that word.

“Broom.” Keur Yoro Kodia village, Senegal – June, 2014 – one morning I arose much earlier than usual, so I walked to the meeting/meal house – a girl was stooped, moving in a curved pattern across the courtyard, sweeping the dirt with a handheld grass broom – one free broom leaning against the cement wall of the house, I started sweeping, too (and found out it’s very difficult to sweep dirt) – I found a 20 cent Franc piece under some of the dirt I swept away – Fadel, our translator, said it was strange to find money in the dirt in the village; it is much more common in the city – I saved the Franc piece

“Home.” blank slate, darkness – faces of my family and images of my daily habitats float by, but I am not plagued by sad emotions – specific memories do not leap into my mind – feelings of guilt, confusion, and fear for the emptiness that I find in this word “home” fill me instead

Perched in a tree at Lagunita lake/dry basin on Stanford campus that evening, I mulled over my strange experience. My gaze shifted to the shape of the Santa Cruz Mountains, outlined by the tranquil sunset: the ridgeline I had called home for my entire life.

And then it made sense. While all the other Global Citizen Year fellows had arrived into a fresh environment from around the country to PDT, held in the North Bay’s redwood forests and then at Stanford campus, I had not. I was stationed at home while preparing to embark on an entirely different, new journey, which was psychologically confusing and difficult. To cope with this unrest, I had established a temporary mental block to my past life and memories associated with the area.

Feeling more settled as I began to understand the complications my brain had created for me, it was awesome being able to share my home with others, bringing them to the CoHo for a late night Mexican hot chocolate and comfy couch conversation, the same place I had studied for countless late hours during my junior year (then fueled by “Dirty Chai”s). I enthusiastically shared tidbits about redwood tree biology, local biomes, Palo Alto, and stories of my time growing up in the neighboring mountains. Recalling fond memories, I reached a peaceful understanding that I have, for now, moved on.

Days later, sailing through the night air over the city of Quito – a sparkling quilt blanketing the valley between steep Andes peaks – I truly felt I had finally arrived home.