You know that moment when a vacation ends? Not when you finally plop onto the couch at home. Not when you check in at the airport. Not when you check out of the hotel. I’m talking about the instant you close a car door having last breathed freedom. Maybe it’s a cab? Or a rental car? One moment you’re still basking in warm, soft air rich in its complete lack of responsibility or care in the world — the next you’re in the antiseptic air conditioning of a few hours of travel as you sit and close that door, knowing that you’re on your way back to real life. It’s bittersweet. Sweet because you’re on your way back to your home. Your own bed and couch and favourite place to get a sandwich and such. But bitter because you’re now going away from a place where you’ve found new and wonderful experiences. Happiness you didn’t expect or know existed. So that moment always brings a pang of sadness. At least, it always has for me. Nelly and I haven’t traveled a lot in the last few years. Which is weird. Because we both used to travel a great deal, exploring and finding exciting little corners of the universe on our own or together. But over the last three years we’ve been staying in place, never setting foot on an airplane, for a variety of reasons. For the first time, this week, we traveled. We had a vacation. After years of committing ourselves to ardently creating vacations for others. It was a short trip. Nothing phenomenal. A driving trip for a long weekend to the city of Merida, the capital of Yucatan state on the other side of the peninsula. But it was wonderful. The most wonderful thing about it… After a light lunch we climbed into the car and, as the door clicked shut, that sadness settled over me. That feeling that we were leaving something behind. Memories? Possibilities? Some part of ourselves that we wished we had spent more carefully? In any case, we shut the door on our vacation and started the 4 hour drive home. But we were headed home to this place, this personal paradise. We were headed home to where the two of us, in some other universe in which we stayed in Brooklyn, would be driven to near-constant distraction daydreaming about traveling to. A place we put a lot of ourselves into shaping as the place others do daydream about and look forward to traveling to It was stupid and silly to be sad about leaving Merida behind when this is our life.
There’s a food I’ve always loved: zucchini blossoms. In my old life, to find some was an incredibly rare treat. Even when you did, there would only be a small handful that cost a forturne. So I most frequently had them carefully stuffed, battered, and fried as a tiny taste of luxurious mana. You’d get two or three of them because that’s all there ever really were to spare in the temperate, northeastern summers.
Contrasted to here, where you can find huge bundles of them at the supermarket with regularity, year-round for just a couple of pesos.
I bring it up because that’s what I made for dinner last night. Popped out to our local market, got two fresh bundles, and sautéed them with some pasta. On top of our gorgeous, little corner of the jungle with our cozy house nestled in the middle, central to a zillion cenotes, where we have jobs we love, and where we can be together with the dog and the cat and share this place we adore with our lovely guests... that’s what we came home to. A meal of previously unthinkable opulence. To leave a trip is sad. To come home from a trip to a place that is so perfect as this… is magical. A blessing beyond reckoning. And to close a car door in one place, however warm and caressing the air may be, it is just closing a door. So it can be opened again here. Home.