Sorry to interject on a more personal note, but I was given a strange and very mixed gift yesterday: my old journals and other old writing projects.  It was one of those irreplaceable and priceless objects only a husband can give you — apparently Ruben had saved and kept many things I ruthlessly sought out and destroyed; and besides the gratitude accruing to an unexpected return of one’s past, I am very grateful that the present is always the perfect place of repentance.

However I came across this which seemed not wholly inappropriate to some of the discussions we’ve had about ‘home’ and which I confess made me cry — reminding me of something I have been learning lately in other ways: that joy here is not so much an effect of having everything as we would wish, as an effect of the light on a unique pattern of faultlines in the broken things we love.  I have been thinking lately of the expression, ‘when life hands you lemons . . . ‘ — but I think that falls short.  Life doesn’t hand you lemons really: we carry our own lemons around with us — ingratitude, bitterness, covetousness, self-pity, etc: life is always sitting there by the side of the road on a hot day, like Wisdom, calling: selling at an incredible discount the most costly and refreshing lemonade.

“Where do you go when you can’t go home?”

Such was the song that was belted in darkness while I waited for Ruben to get his favorite potato chips in Kroger and listened to A Prairie Home Companion.

It doesn’t much matter where you go, I think. Anywhere alike you dream about home, making it up in detail; you play with the details and variate them and pick your own favorite variation and play with the details some more. You imagine home like a starving person imagines an ideal meal. Here we have no continuing city; here we have sometimes, no city at all. Meanwhile no matter how many homes with all their windows lit and the light beating like wings in the darkness, by sea or mountain, tucked into the woods with tall windows that the damp leaves cling to as they travel down you imagine — ‘home’ is something solid. It sweeps suddenly in and out with the memory of the headlights of a pesero climbing shakily through the rainy darkness: you shiver by the side of the road with fifteen other people all waiting to crowd into that warm human mass of shoes and faces and coats and backpacks that is already spilling out the doors of the bus. It is the almost solid fall of light in the morning sublimating the blue lichenous couches and walls of wood, your feet freezing on the unheated board floor of the cabin as you stand unseeing, arms wrapped around you, only the dust dancing with you in a space of light. It is the pale pink light in the evening, delicate and papery, illuminating the little trees and houses it has picked out in gold while a smoke blue mantle throws itself over the mountains. It is the lights in the valley like stars on the sea floor, broken by the silhouette of the corn stalks. It is the gas stove in the little kitchen, your pow-pow that never works, pumping water while your nose and fingers turn to ice, the bath which you have to get out of in order to change the water temperature while steam escapes through the holes in floor where the pipes come through. It is the beautiful copper tubing of the pipes that bring in your bathwater which Nico cut, molded, and installed himself while you were sick. It is Reme smiling on your front step; the people who bring the water smiling on your front step; Liliana or Adriana smiling on your front step, Miguel frowning on your front step. It is the dust that rises in clouds when you sweep the floor, no matter how often you sweep. It is walking twenty minutes down the mountain for aspirin; never being able to go anywhere after six or seven for fear you won’t get a bus back up the mountain. It is the three hour trip to the grocery store, your legs and your back aching with the weight of the groceries and the hundred steps up and over the Carretera, coming back to a frozen house on a frozen mountain and turning on all the space heaters. It is the place to which you will never return. You know it too well to variate its details; you know its every inconvenience. It is the place closest to heaven on earth, the place where you watched the shadows and the quality of light changing along the length of the walls until only the stove light over the sink was gleaming, casting elegant allusions to the dining room chairs; it is the place in which you made your husband and your three legged dog chicken soup when they were sick, sat up with candles when the electricity went off listening for your husband’s running step through the thunder, stood in the doorway while the dew gleamed on the grass like little worlds, your hands curled around your cup of tea, blinking in steam and happiness; where the wind came and found you and the bamboo shades clattered; or the rain came tracing patterns like a lady drawing her long, gentle fingers over a glass.