One of my favourite Calvin cartoons shows a confused, cubist Calvin splintered into many overlapping, angled pieces. Gradually, over several panels, he regains his equilibrium and his body parts fall into place as the confusion abates. Several times every year, I experience that disjointed feeling, moving from my “real” home in Canada to my “other” home in Mexico, and then back again—at which point I’m never quite sure what’s real and what isn’t.
We are home again, and I am gradually falling into place. Home, to the place we almost left a year ago for a simpler, easier-to-manage life. Home to dried leaves that need to be raked, an overgrown shrub bed that should have been re-planted last year and can no longer be put off, a deck that badly needs repairs, a plugged kitchen sink drain, and a house that’s been lived in by others for the past few months and so needs to be re-ordered to fit our lives. Yes, there would be easier ways to manage dividing our lives between two countries. But, in spite of the long to-do list and the several days of cubist existence, I have no regrets about still calling this home.
Years ago, when we were actively farming, we had a little “chore chant” that we’d lifted from one of those you-can-do-it-all magazines that were popular in the 1970s. “It’s not doing the chores that makes you downhearted, it’s thinking about them and getting them started.” (Note: you have to chant this in a saccharine, sing-songy, voice with exaggerated rhythm.) So, yesterday I dragged myself out of the doldrums of putting the house in order and grabbed the grass rake and hoe. Aha, beneath the winter’s mulch the garlic is up and looking good. The rhubarb seems healthier than last year, when it succumbed to some sort of fungus. The soil was dry enough to till, so in went the early seeds—lettuce, spinach, chard, onions. It will be another couple of weeks before frost-sensitive seeds and bedding plants can go in the ground. This year, I decided, I’m going to abandon straight rows and plant in squares and rectangles with flowers mixed in—create a sort of herbaceous quilt. I left a big spot between the square of spinach and the square of chard to plant marigolds. Or maybe pansies.
Gradually, my jagged edges began to fall into place.
This is not an easy place to live. A house in town would have been easier. A condo, even more so. And maybe the edges when I came home would have been less jagged. But there’s a flip side to those jagged edges: there’s something reassuring about finding myself again.
And again. And again. Because I’m not about to abandon this crazy two-country existence, having gradually—and yes, reluctantly at first—found that I can be at home in two places. And I wonder: When I return to my Mexican life in a cubist jumble, is it possible that the parts realign themselves somewhat differently?