Living here, I’ve attempted to wear earrings more. A small thing, but nevertheless an unnatural one since I have an aversion to accessories. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was seventeen, and to this day, wearing a necklace makes me feel twitchy and choke-tastic.
Mom thinks it all stems from the womb.
I’ve come a long way, even layering bracelets and wearing statement rings. But as others drop their bras the moment they enter their home, I remove the earrings, and my lobes exhale in relief.
Releasing and relaxing is my mantra, if not my reality. I’m naturally wound up, C-3PO on the massage table, The Tin Man on the yoga mat. My shoulders hunch, and I flinch when people tap me on the shoulder. As I sit here, I am willing my shoulders to rest, and trying to stay in this moment of writing, as opposed to checking my text messages or the headlines.
It’s a lifetime struggle, being present. Absorbing. Pausing.
Walking the calles helps me. I smell the tuberoses, the Nardos, as they are called—fragrant fingers pointing to the heavens. I watch three dogs, walking together, sniffing, crossing the streets at the crosswalk, completely unattended as the Spanish dogs can be at times. I think about my crisper, and if it would be better to buy a scoop of garbanzos or a filet of Dorado. A madre from school, her belly swollen with nine month’s worth of baby, takes a moment to offer me some excess Italian peppers from the campo.
I feel connected, yet separate, as I do. I see a woman wearing leggings that are orange and yellow tiger stripes—with glitter, and I reach for my phone to call a friend. And it hits me again that these friends live in Washington, or Texas, or Wisconsin or Maryland, scattered like flower petals after a hard rain. While my adventure here is continuing for two more years, it is ending for many.
I feel the loss in my bones.
I return to my home. The house was cleaned while I was gone. And sitting on my end table are two earrings, removed and lost many months ago. Black pearls, which Paul bought for me when in Hawaii for a business trip. These pearls, which rested in darkness until coming into the world.
These pearls, who grew more beautiful with friction, with movement and change. These pearls, which I thought were lost, are now waiting for me again.
The beauty was there all along. I carry it with me.