Saturday, March 20, 2010

13 More Days Till We Leave

There are 13 more days till I visit my father's homeland, the place of my birth, and one part of me that I need to see for myself. Ecuador means equator. A middle point on the earth. I was born in Guayaquil, which is below the equator, on a gulf in the pacific ocean. My half brothers (who never made me feel like that) were born of a different father and in another country, Venezuela. My oldest brother has shared memories since he was 13 when we left. He remembers Spanish but didn't speak it as we were growing up. Their father is also American born, along with our mother. My father was born an Ecuadorian citizen. I have always been an American; I am not always as proud of that as I would like to be. But that is partly my fault too. Often I have been made to feel like just a nine digit number and a tax payer. But if I let anyone make me feel anyway, it is because I care about them. I don't want to be apathetic. I want to not be bound by my man-made borders. I am a human being from the planet Earth first. A world citizen. I am a woman second. And third I am whatever I want to be in that moment.

I have never written a blog post before. I self-published a zine that was a log of my musings, traveling both in body and spirit, and in my search for my hidden vulnerabilities. I will try to be that honest again. There are ways to talk around truths that may be too raw.

In 13 days I will be visiting a part of my self I've hardly asked questions about. A land I have never seen with old enough eyes to remember. I was one year old when I left and came to live with my grandmother in the only and most magical home that a child could have, a child with one parent and one grandmother and two brothers and many cousins, who never wanted for anything.

In stories where a child has a missing parent, the child ask questions. I must have asked them because I remember the answers. But never the questions. How did the little girl in me ask the questions? How did it come up? Or was a remark made? Most of the information produced unfavorable displays of my father's character. There were things that stuck with me, shaping me, and I never questioned their validity.

My father left when I was three. I have had a dream that I think may be a memory of him but I am seeing it like a movie. I wrote a poem about it... I will try to find that... it is not my best.

My neighbor, who was 2 years older and the only female I looked up to who was my peer -- she remembers my father as a charming man, which for a 5 year old is a man who gives you a stuffed animal for a broken leg. She was disputing whatever it was that I said about him. That memory was the first time my belief about my father as a bad man was doubted. I asked about that or pointed out this statement from my childhood friend and neighbor to my mom and she reinforced the dubious nature of my father. A tale that I was reluctantly given. But I consider now the possibility that my mother wanted to tell me the truth or a truth about a man she did not want me to idealize. I learned to stop asking questions about someone I didn't need to know. Someone who only knew how to use people up.

I would not be one for those people. I see this one fact about me has shaped a character that I don't regret.

I use my imagination to cope with the empty parts or the mistakes I can't change. I have always indulged in my daydreams.

I need more experience to fill in the colors of a thousand more stories, more dream time. I have days of my life that I have lived between two worlds.

I could say I hate my father or that I am mad at my mother for not teaching me Spanish or bringing me back to my home. But it is my responsibility to connect with the parts of me that are missing. No one could do that for me.

My husband supports me and I do appreciate that he values my dream. I have been spoiled, in fact, by him. He has indulged me. I am the baby of my family and he is the oldest of his. He was born an old man and I will always be a kid at heart. He has helped me to grow up and I have helped him to grow down.


  1. I'm already tickled by your Blog and you haven't left yet! "He was born an old man and I will always be a kid at heart. He has helped me to grow up and I have helped him to grow down"
    Love these lines. I'm so happy for you two for more reasons than I can count. :)

  2. It is strange...I reread my blog and I realize I called Ecuador my home. I suppose that is indicative of my feelings about my upcoming trip. I will be 32(and in a few days 33) years old when I am there. Baltimore has been my home for a long time and anywhere my mother lives is also my home. Brian is my home. It seems I have many homes, even a place I don't remember. Perhaps I will feel this way about Ireland when I go to visit it someday since my mother's side of the family is from there.

  3. When I was 18 months old, my family moved to England and we lived there for 3 years. I've wanted to go back ever since to experience it as an adult. All my memories are little kid memories. Maybe your trip will inspire me to go some day, but there are so many places I want to see. I'm looking forward to see what comes out of your "homecoming" in this blog. We'll be looking forward to seeing you again in this home too when you get back. That is if we can get rid of your replacements ;) (Mike)

  4. I had not realized how interested you were in the place you were born. I have great memories of Guayaquil...the heat, the scorpions, the polluted river near our home where I swan with the neighborhood kids now and then (don't think Mom knew this). Another memory is that for years we watched M*A*S*H in Spanish, Weird when we moved back and watched in English. Of course, you do not remember this. I'd love to back to and visit the places I remember in Guayaquil and Quito, sadly, I don't think this will happen.

    I'd forgotten we were only half-siblings...thanks for reminding me :-).