During any given tantrum, Rory often says "I don't want this house!" Or room, or park, or wherever we are at any given moment. We used to asked him what or where he wanted to be instead and he would just glare at us, frustrated but unsure about how to answer.
Awhile back, as I was making lunch, Rory came up to me and very calmly said "Mom, I don't want this house." It caught me off guard because usually the words are yelled at me across the room as I collapse into a heap on the floor and shout "I give up! They will call this place 'Malia's Last Stand!' I am resigned to dying here and now!" But this time the words were said calmly, deliberately. So I put down what I was chopping or stirring and asked what he meant.
"I want to be in Oaxaca, Mom."
And then my heart cracked open. I told him I wanted to be in Oaxaca too. We talked about how much we miss Mexico, our friends, the culture, the food, the streets, our schedule, everything. He told me he just wanted to take the laundry to Rosi, play with "the kids," visit the fireplace playplace, and see Eliah. He explained how it confuses and frustrates him that no one says "hola" while passing on the street or in the grocery store - or even "hello" for that matter. He talked about how sometimes people tell him that grapes aren't called uvas and how that makes him mad. He misses mercados and long walks and the beach and the pool and all of the things.
My beautiful little 3 year old boy is feeling the dull ache of culture shock that continues to shake lives months - even years - after the initial blow.
Rory has had a big year. A baby sister, moving in with friends, moving countries, a new language, new people, moving houses, moving countries again, moving in with friends, Mommy working full time and Daddy working full time, a new apartment... and there are always more subtle things happening on top of all that.
But the best part was Rory putting his hand on my cheek and saying "It's okay though, Mama, we will find a new home." And we will. It is painful to be far from our dear friends in the mountains, to not hear the garbage bell at 6:45am, to fold our own laundry rather than chatting with Rosi as she teaches Rory a new Spanish word while handing us our bag of ironed underwear... but it was painful to leave our little house off Lake Holm Rd with the elk and the wide open spaces, it was difficult to leave our best friends right before they had a baby, it was hard to move away from free child care.
And it will be difficult when we do it again. Because I can already see that this life we are living isn't right for us, isn't what we want in the long run. Of course, we knew that when we came back. We knew it would be temporary, a transitional place, but I think maybe a piece of me thought the Pacific Northwest would always be home base. I know now, it isn't. It is home for so many of our people! But it is, unfortunately, not ours.
And it will be okay.
We'll be okay wherever we land - or sail ;)