There's something that happens when you become truly intimate with a place. Something that happens years past the initial impression, beyond the honeymoon, through some nightmarish moments & the everyday. You realize - I am home. I am in a place that has absorbed me so completely that I am now able to look at it through both old & new eyes at the same time.
I have been soaking up a place & become overwhelmed by it.
I watch my boys, tying the ropes, driving the boats, bailing the kayaks, taking off their diapers & putting on their lifejackets first thing in the morning. I realize that this place is in their genes. And I am an immigrant. I can barely swim. I have these mini fear-surges every time I drive them over a wave. They scream, "faster, faster!" They can't tie their shoes, not even the seven year-old, but both older boys, 7 & 3 years old, can throw the ropes off a docking boat, jump out of said moving boat, & tie the ropes onto a post or cleat. As can the thousands of other children who live on this lake.
I am clumsy with those ropes. They fall in the water. I have to reach out to grab the post with my arm, stretching it long, as I remember to turn off the engine. And yet. This year. I can do it in my sleep. The neighbors watched me with the unconditional love they reserve for immigrant islanders, as I smoothly docked the little work boat, A Whaler, they call them out here (Boston Whaler). I felt so proud inside, it was my first smooth docking this year. Then I missed my moment to tie up & the boat floated off towards the rocks, me with hands around the post & one toe pulling in the boat railing. A large cruiser sent me 2 foot-waves, so I was at once flying & balancing, up, down, up, down. At the next dock they played the ukulele while saying, "Now she's doing tai chi. Hmm. Tai Chi."
I am home, & yet I am really of another place. I will not go back so easily.
I am always at some random cultural intersection. Where are you?