Tag Archives: home

Two Questions

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Two Questions

I usually travel a lot. Of course COVID-19 has temporarily grounded me here in Aguascalientes at the moment. But when I do travel to new places there are two questions that people ask me and quite honestly these questions annoy me. Why? Because the answers are complicated.

The first question is What’s your name?

I was twenty-one when I got married and that’s when I legally changed my maiden name to my married name. When the marriage ended, I had just published my first book. My publisher suggested I continue to write under my married name. And I still write under that name and I use that name on my Facebook author page.

However I decided to revert back to my maiden name when the marriage ended but thought I’d wait to legally change it until the divorce was final. By then I was living in Mexico where I had yet a different name on official documents. Here in Mexico your surname consists of father’s surname followed by mother’s maiden name.

I never did get around to legally changing my name back and the fun started when I arrived in Leavenworth four years ago. In order to volunteer in children’s ministry in the church, a criminal records check and child abuse registry check were mandatory. I can still see the puzzled looks on the two pastors’ faces when I pulled out my ID from my wallet and couldn’t find two photo IDs with the same name. Thankfully I remembered my passport that was at home in a drawer.

I prefer to just use the name Karen and totally eliminate all surnames.

The second question is Where’s home?

Actually that seems to be American Immigration’s favorite question. Once again the answer is complicated.

Undisputedly my hometown is Winnipeg. I was born there and lived there until ten years ago.

Culiacán with my Mexican family is home to me in Mexico. When I walk through the door of their home a wave of familiarity washes over me. This is definitely home to me, especially with my loving family surrounding me.

Four years ago I discovered Leavenworth, Washington and that also has become home to me. COVID-19 has screwed up my plans for my annual six month visit this year. But once things settle down I plan to return to Leavenworth. I miss my friends and I miss the volunteer work I usually do there.

But another place that has become home to me is where I stay here in Aguascalientes. I spent three months here last winter, intending to stay only three weeks initially. This winter I’m now in my ninth month and still counting thanks to COVID-19.

So……….Where’s home?

I Should Be In Leavenworth

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I Should Be In Leavenworth

Under different circumstances I would be there today. I would have spent the last two days on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. I would have been on the direct flight to Sea-Tac last night.

But that was in another lifetime, the one before COVID-19. The lifetime before the world went crazy. The lifetime before my life got turned upside down.

There was no Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee. There will be no Maifest in Leavenworth. There will be no VBS, book club, bridge games or SAIL classes for a while yet.

I miss my friends in Leavenworth. I miss LCN. I miss the mountains. I miss the valleys. I miss the rivers and parks. I miss my favorite tree in Cashmere.

Until the borders open up again and the international flights resume, I will stay here in Aguascalientes.

But I really long to be back home in Leavenworth.

Parents Where Are Your Children

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Parents Where Are Your Children

When my children were young, a phrase often splashed across the TV screen. “Parents where are your children?” It’s now decades later and this phrase is still in my head.

A couple of weeks ago I actually emailed my current address to my children in Canada. Until now they’ve had only my email and phone number, as well as Facebook.

I move around a lot but I’ll be at my current address indefinitely. I’ve been self-isolating for more than a month now and Mexico has just entered phase three.

There were a number of factors that influenced my decision to stay in Mexico. First and foremost has to deal with my children. They may be in their thirties now but that protective instinct still kicks in. They are both asthmatic and have other inhalant allergies. I did not want to take the chance of my being a carrier and infecting them.

That leaves me with nowhere to quarantine and nowhere to live. I haven’t had a home in Canada in ten years.

The closest place for me to call home is Leavenworth, Washington. I spend six months of the year there when I’m not in Mexico. There I do have a place to quarantine and somewhere to live. But I am not American so the border is closed to me now.

Then there are the dangers of contracting COVID-19 or any other infectious disease by traveling through four airports to get to Canada from Aguascalientes.

Here in Mexico I am quite comfortable. I have a place to live. Food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance of where I live. My landlord Raul is the greatest and has provided me with a safety net should circumstances change.

My biggest challenge is in making my children understand the importance of more frequent contact. It’s not just that I need to know that they care about me. Hearing their voices is reassuring as I always worry about them. With COVID-19 I am even more concerned. I need to know that they’re okay.

It’s tough living thousands of miles away from your children in a different country during a pandemic.

If

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If

“IF” is a small word but it has a huge meaning. The other day I was asked what I would miss the most if I were to move away from Mazatlan. That is an easy one. Definitely the ocean, the beach and the malecon would be what I would miss the most, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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My friend then asked me a more difficult question. “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” This is a tough one as there are so many places in the world I have yet to discover, and indeed probably never will in my lifetime. I love the water. I find the lapping of the waves to be calming and peaceful. But the splendor of the mountains is incredible. Gazing down into a canyon is amazing. Then there is the crunching of leaves underfoot as the colorful display falls from the trees in the fall. That first sprinkling of snow in winter is magical. Watching nature come to life again in the spring as greenery and flowers appear.

Where in the world can you find all this in only one place? I am still searching. For the time being, I have transitioned back into a snowbird with winters in Mexico and summers up north, lately in Washington state.

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Not a day passes by where the idea of family doesn’t cross my mind. When I grew up, everyone lived in the same city and usually in the same neighborhood. But now the trend is to scatter. While I hop from country to country, my daughter moves from province to province in Canada as her husband is in the military. Interestingly enough, my son has remained in Winnipeg with very strong roots and I highly doubt that he will ever leave.

Family dynamics today are certainly different than they were mere decades ago. While there is still a strong family-oriented presence here in Mexico, I see more of my former students heading to Canada or the USA. The grass is always greener, isn’t it? Many of these students become disillusioned quickly at the higher cost of living up north, and the harsh winters they must contend with. Life runs by the clock and is more stressful. More return to Mexico than actually remain up north on a more permanent basis. From what I see, much of this can be attributed to the strong family ties as well.

My students asked me constantly, “Teacher, aren’t you homesick?” The truth is that I am in a rather abstract way. While I miss people and places, I realize that the life I once led is entirely unattainable now. But I have chosen to leave this all behind in the form of memories. It’s healthier that way. I can fully enjoy the present and eagerly await all the new adventures that the future holds for me. I love the following quote:

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Now, if only Immigration would stop asking me “Where’s home?” when I travel…….