Friday, August 28, 2015

It's (Not) All in the Sign

The balcony of our apartment looks down on the entrance of the "coto" (gated subdivision community) next door. Beside the entry is a pretty fountain, that adds pleasant splashing to the usual shriek and rumble of traffic noise. The other day, though, I noticed that not only was it not running, but the water had been completely drained from it. I wondered idly why and figured it must have something to do with cleaning or a leak. It wasn't till this afternoon that I noticed a sign posted over the fountain.
"Si tu Perro se hace/Tu no te hagas"

As far as my woefully limited Spanish and Google translate can tell me, this says (literally), "If your dog makes, you do not play." 

I'm hoping my friends who are much more fluent than I can shed some light on this sign, because obviously there's something missing in my translation. It reminds me of street signs like this one:

I can't help but think of everything that is implied. We must assume that the dogs are doing something in the fountain. What are they doing? I have a guess, but I think I'll leave that to the imagination. And is it that while the dogs are doing this, "you" don't get to enjoy the fountain? Or is it that the fountain is not playing as long as the dogs are doing this? I just don't know.

I'd be tempted to point to this sign as an example of how Spanish is full of assumptions, but that would be a faulty, not to mention low, blow. After all, it didn't take me long to remember our American "slow children" and how that must make non-native English speakers scratch their heads. 

Language is a funny beast. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Schizophrenia Hits Home

Steam engine at Greenfield Village, Michigan
Last Saturday the kids and I returned to Guadalajara after spending six weeks back in the States, mostly in Michigan. Kraig spent the first three weeks with us, but had to return for a conference and university requirements. The kids and I, though, weren't bound to his schedule, so we sent him off to his solitude (poor dear) and stayed on to get some of the stateside work and visiting done. It was well worth it. We binged on family and friends, gorged ourselves in fact. I think all of us laid up stores of memories that will hold us well in the coming year. It was time "at home." It was familiar, so familiar. It was also a little strange because...well, because it wasn't all home....

Greenfield Village with Givens-side cousins
Greenfield Village with Warnemuende-side cousins
Meramac Caverns with Grandma & Grandpa Warnemuende
Kraig and me enjoying steak in Oklahoma with his bro & wife
So Kraig picked us up at the airport Saturday night. We stepped out into the familiar night of Guadalajara and were soon zipping along the road that would lead us...home.... Each part of the road was well-known to me. I knew the exit well. I knew the trick of how you need to watch the traffic to make sure you aren't run over. I knew the buildings and could read a lot on the signs (which gave me a little thrill of pleasure). The road in front of our apartment building was as bumpy and pot-hole filled as ever (actually, more than it was a month-and-a-half ago since there's been that much more of rainy season to erode it). But I know that road.
Apartment, sweet apartment with a good view of road

The apartment was the same old place, just lacking some of the knickknacks I'd put away for while we were gone. The cupboard in the kitchen had the same hitch that you have to work around to close it properly. The bed felt just right since Kraig had put our foam pad back on the mattress. There were eggs, bread, and milk waiting for us in the fridge. We were home.

But the day before I'd been home. Home in my parents' house that I have known for longer than any of the homes I've lived in since Kraig and I married. I drove down Lilley Road and looked at corners that I've driven by for more than thirty years. I had visited Greenfield Village, Henry Ford's collection of homes and buildings from various periods in American history. I'd talked with dear friends and hung out with family.
The mall on the corner with its ever-changing front

We've been back in Guadalajara for a week, and slowly the split feeling is fading. I'm more here now than there. But I'm still both. I can think of the two places simultaneously as if I belong in both, or as if I am in both, even when I'm not. For the first couple days back it meant treading carefully. I had to hang on to my mind to make sure I stayed present in the place where I was, not the place I'd been a few days before.

I don't envy the schizophrenic mind. It's hard enough figuring out where home is without dealing with a brain which convinces you that you are in two places.

Expert bag searchers
But I can't be in both places at once. The first night we were back Kraig asked Evie if she was glad to be home. "I am," she said. "I want to be here with you. But I kind of wish we could be here and in Michigan at the same time."

I understand this. I love Michigan. I've come to love things about Guadalajara. One has been home, but isn't totally now. The other is becoming more of home, but never will be completely.

If there are ever moments when I long for my final home in Christ it's in transition times like this. To be truly home, to be single-minded, to be with friends and family from here and there (and there and there and there....). That's something to look forward to. It's nice to remember in these schizophrenic moments that it won't always be like this.

For now, though, I will pray I can be present here--as much as I need to be.

Rainy season sky in Guadalajara