And still I dream

I have a dream. Not the Martin Luther King, Jr. kind of dream — although I do dream of a time when all people are judged by the contents of their hearts rather than the colors of their skins — but a dream nonetheless.

The Florida Mountains and the Chihuahuan high desert ecoregion were home to the Apache Indians. (Photo: K. Dianne Stephens)
The Florida Mountains and the Chihuahua high desert were home to the Apache Indians. (Photo: K. Dianne Stephens)

In my dream I’m sitting in the shade on a stone patio behind a small off-grid house —perhaps a yurt or geodesic dome. Cool morning breezes fluff my hennaed hair. To the east — the Florida Mountains. Roan, paws and belly damp from a dip in the horse trough, saunters over, eases down.

A man — in my dream he’s a cowboy — comes out of the house carrying two cups of coffee — one tablespoon of flavored cream plus a sprinkle of cinnamon stirred in. Just the way we like it. We sip in silence as the sun pastel-paints the Sleeping Dragon.  Another day in paradise. The man and I smile. Two needles in a haystack we.

Horses greet the day, neighs carried on the wind.  The man has fed and watered them or maybe I have. We’re both early risers. Our favorite time of day. A new beginning every dawn.

Home.

Two coffees later, I retreat from the sun to the coolness within to eat breakfast or perhaps I’m fasting until lunch this day. Then off to my office space to work. Perhaps writing or drawing or answering emails or ordering hay.

Or, maybe this day an impromptu road trip in Pegasus to the man’s friends’ winery in northern New Mexico. The old war horse wants to run. He hates it when I call him “old.”

But who will feed the horses? A neighbor boy who looks up to the man like the father he never had.

Or maybe no road trip this day. Maybe the man will jump on his UTV and ride the property, his dog riding shotgun. Or maybe we’ll ride the property together — his and her horses, his and her dogs — a much-needed break from the computer screen.

Maybe we’ll plan the book tour. He’ll drive Pegasus or…but I don’t want him to be an accessory to my life. And vice versa.

So Roan, Pegasus, and I will hit the road, missing the man every second of every day until we’re all back together again.

Home.

Time passes. Dogs and horses long gone. The man and I slow down. No more road trips. Nothing else to see and why leave paradise?  Why leave home?

The man dies on a Tuesday. I hold his hand, look into his eyes as he takes his last breath, and say, “Over and out.”  I die on a Wednesday.

Our spirits shoot into the Great Void.

“Welcome home!,” They call out to us.  “Job well done! Come join the party!” And into the Void we go.

Home.

BUT.

But.

But the man in question (“Too”), the man who helped inspire my dream has gone. Following his own dream. Perhaps to return, most likely to not.

And still I dream.

“Home” in the OC

Pegasus et al pulled out of Wilderness Lakes RV Resort in Menifee a little after 9 AM yesterday. We wanted to beat the rain and we did.

We took the 15 to the 91 to the 55 to the 22. Staying in the slow far-right lane, which was fine with me, it took us about two hours to make the 65-mile drive. Traffic was lighter once we got off the 91.  The Garden Grove Elks Lodge #1952 is just north of the 22, the Garden Grove Freeway.

Pegasus at the Garden Grove Elks Lodge #1952, California
Pegasus at the Garden Grove Elks Lodge #1952, California

Jack, the RV host, got us settled into spot 8 and a nice young man (that makes me sound ancient!) helped me back in. About an hour after our arrival, we were paid through January, hooked up to 30-AMP electric and water, and shown around the lodge.

The lodge has a shower and laundry for visiting Elk RVers and a dump onsite. Jack told me that they have a 20-gallon “honey wagon” so you don’t have to unhook and move to dump your grey and black tanks. As my grey and black tanks are 65 and 45 gallons respectively, I made a note to dump weekly.

This morning I drove to YogaWorks Costa Mesa where I’ll take teacher training. As part of tuition, I get unlimited free classes at any YogaWorks studio.  I plan to take as many as I can.

I may also check out the Bikram Yoga studio in Huntington Beach; they’re offering a new student intro month price of $49.

Despite two GPSes, I had a hard time finding YogaWorks. The building was tucked in the corner of a busy shopping center with too little parking and too many cars. I took freeways there but found a better way back to the Elks lodge — Harbor Boulevard to Trask Avenue. Even with traffic lights it’s an easier drive. The 9.2-mile drive took less than 30 minutes.

Yoga teacher training starts this Friday evening with a welcome session, and then runs every Saturday and Sunday through March 27.

I don’t know what to expect. I’m certainly no yoga master (or would it be “mistress”?). I’m not a yogini hard body, or a pretzel, or anything remotely resembling the aforementioned items. I’m just me and that’s all I can be.

Apart from studying and practicing yoga, I’ll visit my friend Sue. Sue and I met freshman year at Dominican High School. I was sitting on a ledge in the chapel singing my heart out. A kindred spirit, Sue and I went on to audition for “Flower Drum Song.” It was unusual for freshmen to make the school play but we did. Sue and her husband live in Los Angeles.

So, we’re home in the OC for three months.

Anyone want to visit? Fly into John Wayne Airport (SNA) if you can.  Depending on traffic, it’s only 20 minutes away. LAX is about an hour.

Home sick

My last night in Granada. John and I were having salads at the Garden Cafe, his with pollo (chicken). “You know,” I said, “I’m glad I came but I don’t think I’d do it again.” No judgement, just fact.

Maybe it was the chigger or other unknown bug bites that covered my legs, ankles, and feet, warranting a trip to the farmacia (pharmacy) on Libertad for antiinfeccioso Neobol crema.

Marked up map of Granada, Nicaragua
Marked up map of Granada, Nicaragua

Or having to study a map marked with the places I wanted to go. No auto pilot here.

Or the bright-eyed dark face looking up at me through black iron lattice when I unlocked and opened the heavy wood door of our house one morning, the cement step his bed, the same man I saw lying on the tile sidewalk around the corner.

Or the smell of urine and other things on the street outside our house and in Parque Central.

Or the little boy sitting on the BAC bank steps, hand out.

Or the constant sweating.

Or the water being shut off at our house my last day when I desperately needed a shower. The water came back on; I didn’t have to bathe in the pool.

Or maybe it was living for 10 days with a person I considered my best friend, but who now I didn’t seem to know, or him — me.

But then…

But then there was falling in love with yoga all over again at PURE. By the third class, I let go as Gea led us into a simple stretch: “From table top position, thread your left hand down under your body and through your right arm. Now put your left shoulder on the ground and breathe. This stretch is very detoxifying.” She didn’t have to tell me. Cracked open, I felt sorrow rise from deep.

Breakfast at Kathy's Waffle House, #32 - Nica Desayuno
Breakfast at Kathy’s Waffle House, #32 – Nica Desayuno

And the locally-grown Café Las Flores coffee: smooth, citrusy, sin (without) caffeine side affects. John and I drank it morning, noon, and night, hot and cold.

And the salty soft queso (cheese) that came fried with #32 at Kathy’s Waffle House where I learned how to order eggs soaves (over easy).

And flying through the cool green halfway up Mombacho Volcano. And my zip line tour guides, Manuel and Louis. And always safety first.

And a visit to Education Plus in el barrio de Plantanal, a shanty-town where Jim Durham helps at-risk kids have a better life and stay off the streets.

Flying through the trees, Café Las Flores Canopy Tour
Flying through the trees, Café Las Flores Canopy Tour

And discovering pinolillo, a corn meal and cacao drink the day before I left at the Mansion de Chocolate. A young couple from Michigan told me to get it cold with leche (milk), not water.  And they were right.

And learning that Cynthia, a receptionist at the Mansion de Chocolate, has family in Gaithersburg, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., and had lived there for two years.

And Ileana’s strong fingers up against the rigid muscles of my neck, head, shoulders. And more sorrow rising from deep. And dreaming that when I opened my eyes, I would be home.

And then I was.

When I think of home

Roan and Pegasus "home" at Allen Ranch Campground - Hot Springs, South Dakota
Roan and Pegasus “home” at Allen Ranch Campground – Hot Springs, South Dakota

I’ve been thinking about the meaning of “home” for a long time, even before I left mine of 25 years in May 2013. (Previous post: Home, nowhere.)

For many years, the song “Home” from The Wiz made me cry:

When I think of home
I think of a place where there’s love overflowing
I wish I was home
I wish I was back there with the things I been knowing

I watched in amazement as my sister Cathy sang the lines in one of her shows. How can she not be bawling? I was.

This blog’s tagline — “Tales from the road home” — assumes that the road will eventually lead “home.” But will it? And how will I know if and when it does? Will I feel “home” in my heart, my skin, my bones? Will I know “home” by sight or sound or smell? Will “home” tap gently or bang down the door? Will “home” find me or must I find “home”?

I’ve lived in many places over the past two years. But no place has felt like “home,” not even Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I spent the first 25 years of my life and where three of my sisters still live.

And, what is “home” anyway? Is “home” a person, place, or thing? Is “home” all of the above or something in-between?

Is “home” a person?  Will I meet someone along the way, feel an immediate connection, and want to settle down where he is? Until recently, the possibility never crossed my mind. But now I think, yes, perhaps “home” could be a man I could create a life with.

Or is “home” a place? I’ve been drawn to Albuquerque, New Mexico ever since I attended a conference at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. Located on the sacred lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo at the base of the Sandia Mountains, the magic of the place drew me close.

I feel like I will settle in New Mexico, where exactly I don’t know. Albuquerque’s crime rate is high, Santa Fe doesn’t appeal, Taos is too cold. Still, I’d like to visit Taos’s community of Earthships — completely sustainable, off-grid houses.

Or, could “home” be a thing — an ineffable feeling, a sense, a call to the heart and soul?

No person, place, or thing feels like “home” to me.  Yet.  And so we keep rolling, hoping that one day some one, some place, or some thing will. And then we’ll be home — Roan and I.

My heart aches for home
Until it doesn’t
The day ends
Another night on the road

Full-time RVers say that home is where you park it. Right now “home” is the Allen Ranch Campground in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Dear Reader — what is “home” to you?

Home, nowhere

Home eludes
A cruel mirage of the mind
Always just around the corner

The Heart thinks it knows better
Where home can be found
Here, there, everywhere
It does not

The Heart aches
An empty cavern
Longing for home

But home shimmers just out of reach
Blown away by the sands of time
A sadistic joke played on humanity
On this human
Home is naught
The Heart searches still
Hoping for the comfort of home

Heart craves
Begs
Cries
Tears out its hair by the roots
For home
For naught but tricks of lighting
Now you see it
Now you don’t

Nowhere is home
Never to be found
Until the day is over
The corpse cold
Entombed in the Mother
Finally home
A great sigh
A whispering breeze

Home is where the heart is?