Friday, April 23, 2010

Baltimore Welcome

Baltimore is gorgeous in the spring, with trees blooming and and flowers everywhere. After 12 hours of sleep, I woke up refreshed. It feels as if so much has happened these past weeks, and finally today I feel less burdened and less frightened. It was time to look forward and plan for our return to Baltimore.

I had much to accomplish, but did not have a car, so I took my time. I walked out of the house and paid attention to the sounds, the smells, the sights. I pay so much attention to my surroundings in Ecuador, it made sense to listen and look a little more here, and appreciate an entirely new environment. I realized that there were birds everywhere, singing incessantly, much as they do in Quito in the morning. I headed down Roland Avenue and noticed how wide the street was, how big the houses were, how spacious the lawns were, how entirely different the landscape was to that in Quito. Baltimore is flat, with no mountains nearby. There were few people on the streets, they were all in their cars, but the traffic was light and slow-moving. It was peaceful to walk, cars stopped in intersections, they did not honk as they do in Quito.

Beautiful Walkways

I liked that I did not feel anxious about my belongings, I never felt that I was in danger of being robbed. I stopped at Starbucks and was recognized and my doppio espresso machiato with extra foam was prepared perfectly. I dropped in to Maya's old school and asked about registering her for classes in the fall and learned how complicated that would be. I realized how much I like her school in Quito, how good the fit is between Maya and her current school and how difficult it will be to return to her Baltimore school. I felt desperate to find another alternative for her, but it may be too late for me to find something that will work. Perhaps we ought to stay in Ecuador another year!

I walked to my house, which looked inviting and not much different than it did when we left. I wanted to say something to the renters about how disappointing it is that they are breaking the lease and leaving us in such a difficult situation by not paying the rent, but they were not home and I wouldn't know what to say to them anyway, and I am not sure they would care about my feelings anyway. I dropped by our neighbours instead and picked up our mail and met with Susie and her children Jenna and Jonah and watched them eat Chef Boyardee and get sauce all over themselves.

Another Starbucks and another perfect espresso machiato gave me enough energy for the next few miles to my office. It looked neat and busy and no one answered the door, so I walked on to the nearby shopping centre for a delicious smoothie and a visit to Trader Joe's for shampoo and soap and Gummy Bear vitamins, and the Tmobile store to buy a 'pay as you go' phone ( I can live without a car but not without a phone). My office partner was back when I returned, and we discussed my return to work and caught up with all and any gossip I had missed for the past year.

I was surprised at how comfortable I feel here, as if I had never left. Nothing appears to have changed much, as if everything in my old life is ready to welcome me back, as if I had never left. I feel invited, wanted, needed, purposeful.

It struck me how incredibly different life is in Quito! The only thing that Baltimore and Quito have in common is that humans live in both cities; streets, houses, cars, people, grass, flowers, all are entirely different, I don't think I can compare the two, they are two different worlds, different realities, different planets, and it will be a huge adjustment for us to come home.