Notes from San Diego

seems to be a series…

life: examined is an invitation to curiosity, and a compendium of ideas, thoughts, and questions about living a creative, intentional life. Thank you for your support.


Nearly Two Years

I’m sitting at the beige tiled counter on an uncomfortable bar stool in my family’s kitchen. This is not the family home I grew up in, but the home where my family of two, mom and brother, now reside. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve seen my mom and brother, but it feels like yesterday as I slip into familiar routines.

Time is such a weird construct.

Recently my mom sold her tiny condo and moved in with my brother. It’s not a perfect arrangement, but it’s mostly good—and what the hell is perfect, anyway?

The house is a rental that belongs to my brother’s BFF. It’s in a part of San Diego County that I’m not fond of, and I’m here without a car far from town and the places I enjoy. So, without wheels, I’m spending all my time on this visit with my mom and brother, when he’s home from work. This has been fantastic—and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

I’m enjoying isolation from distractions to focus on my family.

So Many Changes, So Much Stuff

Mom and brother have been working hard to clear out a lot of excess furniture and stuff, but it’s a long process. Although my mom lived in a tiny condo (384 sf), she had a kitchen-full of things, among others, to add to the already kitchen-full of things, here.

The former residents left a bunch of their belongings in the cupboards, garage, and storage spaces so it will take my family time and patience to sort through it all. I know it’s been stressful for them, so I had zero expectations figuring I’d be sleeping on the couch or a fold-out mattress on the floor.

Buy me a coffee

Although they’ve been exhausted from the move and the process of sorting through miscellaneous bric-a-brac (my mom has been here just five weeks), mom and bro made time to fix up the guest room for me. I am so touched by this gesture.

I feel loved and wanted and that’s different from knowing—I actually feel it.

The room is super cute, with my mom’s trademark red touches (definitely not my color, but surely hers), a comfy if monastic single bed, and all the blankets should I need them. With temperatures soaring into the 90s°F/30s°C, I do not need all the blankets.

Home Can be Many Places, Simultaneously

My Portuguese neighbors recently asked me if I’d be going home for the holidays. It took me several beats to respond as my brain tried to understand what they were asking me.

I’m already home, I said. Then I realized they meant the U.S.

Although I don’t think of San Diego as my home, I do feel a fondness and connection to the city as the place I’m from. But as I’ve said before, where we are from is not necessarily where we are meant to be.

This visit, though, has shown me I can love the place for nostalgic reasons, but it’s people (family & friends) that will always be my heart-home, regardless of where I live in the world.

When other immigrants in Portugal talk about their home, they typically mean the country that issued their passport. I don’t.

Going home for me means going back to Portugal. However, that reality doesn’t diminish the importance of my human connections in the States. The place where one is born is not analogous to or a stand-in for family and friends.

Portugal is home, until (if) it isn’t, but the home I’m writing about is the home of self and alignment.

In general, Portugal, and other places in Europe, are a better fit for me than the States. While I don’t share the values of the U.S., that doesn’t make me love my people there any less. Physical distance from family and friends does not equal emotional distance.

I am vast. I can inhabit two places at once.

Living abroad is hard and good and demanding and life-changing. It’s not easy, but I don’t seek ease.

Self-knowledge, creativity, and connection with simpatico others is more interesting to me than a life of ease and unchallenged comfort. I’ve chosen a path that my family sometimes doesn’t like or understand, but it’s the path I walk and must to live in full commitment to my truth, whatever form that may take.

I don’t know where this road I’m on leads, there are no signposts, but I keep on—one foot in front of the other as if I had no other option. Because truthfully, I don’t. And that’s okay with me.

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Favorite Auto-Translation of the Week (yep, Facebook, again):

Mr Lucius comes to report that Be My Friend is going back to photo shoots! We will try to photograph 260 thugs by the end of the year.

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