Driving back from Selma in October, Sherod and I had a really good conversation about the fact that home is where the stories are. Back in Selma for Thanksgiving, I was regaled with yet more stories, some of them so funny they made me laugh till my sides hurt. Two days later, this morning was rainy and a cold wind from the north was blowing in Boquete. I can still hear large rocks rumble in the river by my parents’ house; the river swollen after a whole week of steady rain. We’ve had a fire going in the fireplace most of the day.
The crackle and warmth are comforting. I did my ritual calls–to some of my parents’ close friends who would be offended if I didn’t call and say I’m back, and then to my Aunt Inga. We had been talking for a very short time when I heard her voice change and could tell she was crying. When she was able to, she said she almost forgot it was me she was talking to because I sound so like my mom on the phone.
My dad and I started telling stories this morning, and then looked at pictures. After lunch and a nap for my dad, we found ourselves doing something I hadn’t set out to do. My grandmother Rosa’s hope chest, that went with her from Sweden to San Francisco where she went to train as a surgical nurse, and then went on to Colombia, and now sits in Panamá, has been full of handiwork projects–knitting, cross-stitch, crewel, all kinds of projects, many of them abandoned and put away for another day that wasn’t going to come. I went in looking of something and instead, ended up sorting through it all with my dad. Some will be given to someone–anyone–who does one of those crafts. Some just had to be thrown away. A few I will take back with me–filled with the same hope as my mom’s, that the projects will actually get finished. The stories have kept rolling out, one after another, bemused, surprised and amused.
And with them, yet another moment of understanding. I have all kinds of places to call home–home is where the stories are and where someone knows your voice.