I walk back down my gravel driveway after taking out the trash. I see a lone guayaba on the ground, bend to pick it up, turn it over. It’s beautiful, ripe and unmarred, untouched by bird or desert rat. The very last one, I suspect. I’d thought the two I ate three days ago would be the end of them. I stand cradling the small perfect fruit in my palm, this sweet surprise. I thank my guayaba tree, kiss a patch of smooth dark trunk between the lovely peeling bark skin. I feel lucky and grateful. Then I move, gentle, through the big palm fronds that brush my trailer, and I feel my sadness. Is it because of my family? Maybe. Maybe it is that. And maybe it is touched by autumn, too, the changing light, the ending in this, the movement toward the new. I love the changing of the seasons, the anticipation in that coming to be. But it’s a time of letting go, too. When I was young I always felt a kind of longing in the fall. I called it “autumn aches.” Maybe what I feel today is that. And maybe I feel the earth’s sorrow, as well. I open my wooden gate, careful of the guayaba I am holding. The Mexican petunias are a wild splash of purple in the center of the courtyard, a volunteer sunflower, big new bloom, beside them. I stop inside the gate, press the guayaba to my lips, breathe the scent of it. The sparrows lift back into the bougainvillea, soft movement, brushstroke on paper. The sadness, I tuck away. I’ll carry it with me, let it live, quiet, just beneath this joy.
I carry Mexico inside me in a way I’ve never known before. It’s half longing, half comfort, I think, as though the country is part of my bedrock now from my short stay–unexpected, surprising, constant. Other places reside in me, too. The open fields of Sonoma County, Sebastopol’s apple orchards alive in the white of full bloom. But they live quietly, rich moist earth breathing peace. I loved it there. For the first time I thought, I could spend the rest of my life here. But I don’t dream of going back, not like with Mexico, though I don’t rule it out. I dream again and again of going back to Mexico. I imagine really moving there this time, not just going like I did before, for a year or two, maybe forever, not returning in a rush to the United States. I can see myself there, sitting in my walled garden, sparrows and white-winged doves in the bougainvillea, daily walks along the malecón, the boardwalk, watching my volcano across the lake. I can picture myself older, taking extra care moving across the cobblestone streets.
Day to day, I hold the longing to return, to make Mexico my own. It lives in the crook of my elbows, hides behind my knees. And yet I wonder if I will ever make that choice. Questions rise in me, yeast in the dough. Can I live again with spiders the size of my hand? What about feeling like “the other” there? Would I grow used to it, morph into new skin, my roots sinking deep in foreign soil? Would my life in the United States fade like a dream? I think it might. I can imagine missing people here, urging them to visit me there. I can imagine missing the conveniences, Trader Joe’s, the rules of a bureaucracy where I can know what to expect. But I can’t picture me living in Mexico and carrying this same longing for life in the United States. When I think of living in Mexico again, I only picture being home.