In transit between Albany and Seattle, I wrote a poem about the kind of home I want. I wrote the to-do list of big-little events of living in that home. I wrote about the technicalities and the maybes and the what-ifs, and spent most of the past few months thinking about where this home could be. I compared statistics. And photos. And real estate listings.
I researched citizenship. Requirements, mailing systems, weather patterns.
I saw the bad of America and the bad of living on stolen land and the bad of healthcare here and the bad of capitalism. I thought always and talked frequently of moving off of Lopez, of trying to get my parents to move. I remembered not the feeling of the place— but rather the view of blocky grey and beige buildings off island. I remembered it for the stress, not the magic. I remembered it for the lack of snow rather than the abundance of misty rain.
And then I came back.
I had started missing the shoreline and the moss and the family, and the romance and excitement of college had faded. The weight and tumult and change that summer had brought finally integrated, and the path I had been planning suddenly veered.
It felt good. Amazing, actually. I am utterly ecstatic at the way it’s changed.
And when I decided to return, the world opened up.
I was offered a house-sitting opportunity in one of the most magical and private corners of the island, and a part time job on the same property. Within the first few days of actually being here, I was offered two other part time jobs, and the loan of multiple cars. My days filled up with family and friends and good food, with so many ideas and inspirations it’s a race against the waning daylight to accomplish them all.
While I haven’t always felt like my people are here, like I am my most awesome and comfortable self here, coming back this time felt like it was changing that.
Coming home to Lopez, I realized, could be just that. Coming Home.
Of course, it was always going to be a kind of home. It was always going to be the place that raised me and the place where most of my friends and family live and the place that I reference in all I do.
But living on the other side of the country, seeing the rest of the world in statistics, I forgot about the way it feels to belong to that place. I was caught up instead in making plans to leave the place that holds three generations and half of my family for the places that have held generations of ancestors. And who knows, maybe I’ll still leave this place for those ones.
But I know that I’ll be doing it in less of a hurry.
Yes, of course I still want to see those other places. Yes, I know there are stories and people I can only find if I go to them. But when I go, I will be going with the knowledge that this is my home. I will be going with the knowledge that this is the place I know, my parents know, my grandparents know.
Prior to coming back, I was set on the idea that in order to heal the trauma of those ancestors who left their homes to come to America I’d have to retrace their steps permanently, re wind time a little bit by moving forwards on and old path.
Part of me felt that I should not/could not love these pacific-north-western islands with the ferocity and depth that I do because they are deeper in the memory of another people’s bones and histories.
The truth is though, I cannot, and indeed do not wish to, erase the part of my life that has been lived here. The part of my body that is literally made out of these islands is so much of who I am. While I am my family’s/Ancestor’s daughter, I am also my own being, and to that own being it does not necessarily matter where in the world I live. So as long as I keep doing the work, why not lean into this little paradise?
I’m still figuring out the best way to navigate Land Back— if that means my own leaving of this place in the future, so be it. For now though, it feels like that means staying and loving this with all I’ve got. And most importantly, it means fighting for the subject of that love.
The land that we call the Americas probably isn’t going to go back to exactly the way it was prior to settlers anytime soon.
Because the Americas are a part of me, it seems like duty to help build them a future we can ALL thrive in.
The signs and paths of intuition and synchronicity showed up so loudly and brightly when I decided to stay that I am taking off the invisible backpack of should and sitting down to listening. It may just be for the time being, but oh man does it feel good to be home.
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