Wrapped in our tartan blankets late Saturday evening, Bruce and I savoured the view from our deck. The stars were ablaze, the pine trees silhouetted against the light of the moon, and patches of snow still lingered in the warming spring air. It felt like a reawakening.
It’s a little ironic, with winter making its slow exit and the rebirth of spring on our doorstop, we’re locking the doors and going overseas… for three months or so.
Business calls for Bruce to be in Europe and I’ll be detouring to Malaysia and Thailand for various engagements. Wonderfully, I’ll reunite with some of my tribe again. I’m excited, of course!
And so, it strikes me… having spent a full winter in Canada for the first time in more than twenty years, I’m grateful to have experienced what true winter is like again. There was joy, but I confess, I’m not a true winter-connoisseur. At times winter seemed endless, days fused one into the other in a monochrome white continuum. I wished for green and colour and warmth.
Snowy landscapes are strikingly beautiful, but often I longed to be back in India. On the days when I yearned for that other place, I needed comforting or I cried into the computer on Skype sessions with the kids. They listened and sympathized but it was I, and I alone, who could choose contentment.
In her newly published book Abroadland, Experiences of Family Life Abroad, Helena Jalanka points out:
They say, ‘Home is where you heart is” and “Just follow your heart” But what if your heart is all over the map?
This is precisely the situation for me, as it is for many of us who live a global life. There were days I missed India so, so keenly. Yet rather than feeling grief for something that was no longer, I learned to… kind of, wrap it up like a precious baby, then hold it, and just remember. I willed those memories to bring contentment, and then wonderment. Wow, I reminded myself, I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived and experienced the culture and the people of India… what a blessing!
At this time last year, we were packing up our home of two years. I might have been taking my last storied train journey, selecting my last basket of greens at Raj’s vegetable cart, paying my last ‘chit’ at the corner store where sums were tallied by pencil. Or was I hopping into a tuk-tuk for a final chaotic, but thrilling ride through the streets of Bangalore.
Perhaps it was the final browse at the flower market, alive with colours and fragrance, or watching the parakeets flit amongst the massive rain tree that cocooned our balcony like a fond, fond friend. It feels as if part of my heart is still there. I can close my eyes and journey through our neighbourhood – the sights, the sounds, even the smells are still so vivid, so visceral.
Perhaps after all, this winter has revealed to me that we have an infinite amount of love and passion to give to more than one place. It also doesn’t diminish us, in fact quite the opposite. Giving our heart to many places, cultures and people, fills us like a vessel – one that we can cherish and sup from, long after we’ve moved on, no matter the distance.
With our bags waiting at the front door as we venture off again, I’ll also embrace this home, this town, from afar.
How did Helena refer to it in Abroadland…
Your roots may be shallow, but they are resilient and reach far, you bloom in many places…
Abroadland is available at Springtime Books