On Arriving

Perhaps it is good that today is the first day, since we have been back in India, that I am posting. This is the first day that I feel normal.

I don't know how to describe how it feels, making such a move back to somewhere that you didn't originate, somewhere so different from your native Canada, somewhere you have now labeled home, for the time being.

Maybe it's like being at the eye doctor's. Except instead of letter charts, there are places and people. And when you fly back across the ocean, the lens the doctor has slotted into place is completely wrong. Everything is distorted, smaller, sick-making. You panic and try to claw it off your eyes, but it won't come off and so you simply go about your day with the strange sick-making lenses and go to bed early so you can close your eyes. The next day is the same, but once or twice a lens falls into place that makes everything seem right again. Normal. Your house seems the normal size, you don't feel sick, nothing is looming. But it falls away when you smell Canada inside of your suitcase and start crying.

The next day the right lens comes back more and more, and today, this day, that other wonky lens never does appear. You are still waiting; maybe at night? When the world is closed in with darkness? So far today you see everything as though you had never left and found things completely different when you returned.

I am doing much better today. Coming back after a Goa monsoon is daunting, but from experience, staying through is even more daunting, although the rain has its talons in the season and seems reluctant to let go. So there has been a lot of rain and we have been cleaning mold. Welcome home, everything in your house is destroyed! Or maybe not destroyed, but smelly and soft and tinged with green. We're almost done cleaning, so now I can stop feeling sorry for myself. I am beginning to love my house again, to forgive it for not being in Canada.

What is this love affair I had with Canada? Maybe it is because my parents moved to Victoria, one of the loveliest cities on earth. And we had such a beautiful visit, with them and with my grandpa and sister. Or because I spent a week with my brother and sister-in-law and baby niece (!) in Vancouver, another of the loveliest cities. And the air is so pure, so fresh, even the dirt is clean. Today I can type that without feeling sick or crying, so I know I'm really better.

Anyhow. What else?

There is a little matter of our landlord feuding with our neighbors. My next door neighbor used to help me in my house, and is no longer allowed. I argued about this, friends. Argued and argued because Maria and I have an agreement and she is like an older sister to me and I just didn't want to break our agreement. But my landlord was adamant, and after a long argument I had to put it down to some feudal village Indian sensitivity issue and bow to it. There is also a very big wall separating us from the house next door. Cate says she's going to insist that they put in a gate, because we are always back and forth from that house, and so are the kids, and now they will have to walk all the way to the road and then back in.)

They cut down my bougainvillea plants because they were too spiky. It's not their fault. They didn't know that I've always dreamed of having bougainvillea.

Okay! Let's move past those sad facts, here are the lovely things:

There is a family of little chirpy birds nesting in a climber that I planted outside my window.

The bamboo is thriving.

The papaya tree that my landlord planted last year? IT IS A TREE! A very large tree. I will have to show before and after photos. He has grown quite excited about how big it is and has planted many of them all around the yard, so we will have many large trees next year, it seems.

Leafy is our boy who dislikes travel. He grows clingy and shy and strange, he won't let go of me in public places, and he acts up more. I knew that he would settle back down when we got here, and it was immediate! He has melted back into his confident Leafy self, and I barely saw him yesterday, he was so busy checking on everything.

All of them, actually, have settled right back in. And walking around the village, saying hello to all the neighbors, everyone has been so kind.