They say that when you live in a place long enough, it becomes part of you. When it comes to Guatemala, I can only hope so. This place meant a lot to me, on many levels, and now I'm headed back to the states to see my family for the first time in a year. I came here, for the most part, as a complete moron, in a culture I knew nothing about and a language I was just beginning to understand. But, after a while, I found myself drawn to everything about this country, finding things that reminded me of parts of myself that I had forgotten while I was in such a hurry to graduate from college, get a job and take myself seriously.
I threw all that away when I went all Hunter S. Thompson and moved to Central America.
This is my final Post-a-Card until my next trip. I look back on Guatemala and what I've posted here, and I see a lot on the highlights from this experience, the moments where I felt such freedom and happiness about quitting my job and leaving everything to come here. I left out the parts where I literally collasped under the weight of the decision I'd made.
But here's the thing.
I realize now that the most valuable thing I'm going to take from all of this -- minus the 12 bottles of hot sauce in buried in my luggage -- is this:
I will probably never chase after the white picket fence, so many of my friends are married and getting jobs, leaving old ones, buying property so they can settle down and find a place for themselves in this messed up world, and while I think it's great for them, it also freaks me out, it's a small part of why I left, I had no idea what I wanted or where I wanted to go. I never really found a place that felt like home for me. Some people might have gotten a shrink. I moved to Central America. And now I'm leaving, a lot poorer, a little smarter, less in sync with the English language than I'd care to admit, but feeling a whole lot better about where I'm headed after realizing this:
It doesn't matter.
Anything can happen at this point, and I'm really okay with that, mostly because I've decided that "home" is not the name of a city, it's not even the place where you were born or grew up, home is an idea, it is a place where you can be yourself, it is where you are most happy, surrounded by people and places and music and food and a life that you love.
And for a while, Guatemala was home for me.