When I first saw the rug, it seemed way too expensive to make sense. The Center was thriving in its Essences of Connection, Beauty, Community, and Joy - but certainly not in its bank account.
The Voice reminded me right away that buying the colorful, handwoven, organically round rug was unreasonable. It whispered in my ear: "Shouldn't you wait until this Center of yours makes a profit?" But reasonable was never the driving force of the Center for Happiness. And my goodness, this rug.
I bought it.
The day it arrived I made its home on the floor, at the foot of the big, soft red couch - which eventually became The Couch - and marveled at its perfection.
In fact, it was perfectly imperfect.
Made by hands in India, its many many threads spoke to me of our many many hearts. It spoke to me of the tiny moments of our lives and of how, when woven together, they shine and comfort and hold us, strong and colorful. Always there.
Very soon, it became The Rug.
Over the almost ten years that it lived in the BaIlroom, I cannot count the number of hours that were spent on or around The Rug meditating, learning, sharing, laughing, crying, creating, reading Gratitude notes.
When we walked out of the Center one last time, in August 2020, I moved The Rug to my home and placed it next to my bed.
As I was deciding what was so Deeply Cherished that it would make the trip to Mexico this last summer, The Rug showed up at the top of my list.
Along with The Voice having some opinions:
"But it's so heavy!"
"But it's so big!"
"But it's so worn out!"
All these were true. As well as knowing that I could find another colorful rug down here.
But not The Rug.
A few weeks ago, The Knowing having become stronger than The Doubting, I folded the glorious piece of yumminess into a bag, then gently placed it in a box, talking to it as to an old friend. I would see it on the other side and we would write yet another chapter together.
A couple of days ago, in a house that is not quite finished, in a house which also makes little sense, I pulled The Rug out of the box. And there it was. Full of stories, infused with so much depth, so much life. Two worlds suddenly holding hands and so many people I love now here with me. Next came the brightly colored quilt which also did not make sense to bring. And the tiny door handles. And a few cards.
Little by little, the house becomes a home.
I opened my email early today, which is very rare for me. In fact, I don't always open my email daily. But this morning, I did.
And there, as the roosters started to sing while the sky is still dark, I read the words of a friend telling me how, last Spring, she had seen one of The Rug's cousins online and had decided to get a few people together and surprise me by shipping it to me. More weave, more love. She knew how sweet it would feel for me to receive it and she took the time to try and make this happen.
Then she writes: "But then no one knew your address. The order got delayed. I couldn’t get a single customer service person to assure me it would arrive at the surrogate address Maryn was able to acquire. When the order finally went through, the shipping was five times the cost of the rug! Not the essence of ease and connection, but still the Love. Now I know why it didn’t flow. The actual rug -infused with the Love - is five times, no - five hundred times better than a replica would have been!"
Wow. More threads. More love. The Rug becomes even more infused.
I am in awe. And I am in love.
Funny how Bursts of Grief can just show up out of seemingly nowhere.
One minute I was packing my bags to move from one Airbnb to another (this is a story for another day), and the next thing I know I am reaching for my Morning Pages for the second time of the day as if I am scrambling to reach a lifeguard's ring.
"This one is going to hurt. Grab your pen and grab it now."
I knew what was happening. I was trying to keep the words at bay one more second until I could lay them down on paper. They might be less sharp there, less chaotic at least. They wouldn't buckle my knees as they were threatening to do, sweep me away.
It started out so mildly.
Annoyed that I had to change temporary lodging just a few days after getting here, annoyed that I had to move to a temporary lodging at all. Bypassing the gratitude of living two blocks from a magnificent beach for an extra few days, I just wanted to be HOME. I wanted to get there and stay there. I didn't want to schlep yet one more batch of stuff, decide what I might need, not need.
"Just like my kids did for years when they switched home each week from their dad's to mine."
Soft music in the background, still a bit of sand on my toes, an observation, just an observation.
Which could have stayed at that.
Except it didn't.
Except that all of a sudden I was presented with a memory of my daughter packing her stuff into a bag on a Monday morning, leaving behind her bedroom and all the sweet mess she had made in it the previous six days. She was ten and had been doing this dance for two years already. She would continue for another eight, even as she begged me when she was fourteen to find a way to make it stop, to please let her stay with me. My lawyer said it would be a tough road and so my baby kept packing. Until a week after graduating she moved to Brazil for a year. I allowed myself to acknowledge that she would stay at her hosts parents' for more than a week at a time.
I then saw my son, six years old and coming back to me after a week with his dad. While they were gone I had moved the couch from one side of the living room to the next. I hadn't known how disrupting this would be to him. At thirty-six I had so much growing up to do. Transition days back to my house were often hard for him and the Monday after he graduated from high school, he told me he would stay at his dad's "for a while." It wasn't too long before he moved to Hawaii.
Then my baby, my two-year-old. He was still nursing when The Change blew through our lives. This is something I am still not able to completely face all the way. I will. Just haven't been able to yet. So many "I should haves" swim around my heart, threatening to pierce it more and more. One day, I think he was about four, he came to me with big eyes and a great idea: "why don't you and Dad live in the same house? This way we could all be together all the time!" He had forgotten. I wanted to throw up. When he moved to France, at the age of seventeen, and was matched with a host family, I again thought about how he would have more stability with strangers across the world than he had had with me.
Sitting on a tree at twilight, I was telling a friend just a few weeks ago about how few regrets I have about my life. Except for the big one: the way I left my marriage. The way I fled because I was afraid of what would happen to my ability to function if I didn't. The requests I did not know I was allowed to make and so did not make. The fighting for what mattered that I did not how to fight. I was a mess.
And this morning, I am again. But there are no more decisions to make, that window has closed a long time ago. Only deep pain - and heartbreaking regret.
I will never know what it's like to have two homes (does it mean one really has no home?). I am afraid to think about what this does to a young person. To three young persons, the people who matter more to me than anyone else in the world.
Blubbering "I am sorry" over and over again this morning, as I pack to move once more, won't change a thing.
I sure didn't see that one coming as I was putting tank tops into a plastic bag.
There is a flavor to being here.
The Flavor of Being Here is multi-layered and contrasted and one cannot not feel it.
It comes at us from many angles at once and asks for us to show up in ways we may not have shown up before, demands that we hand out manners of being that we may not have yet unwrapped no matter how many decades we have been doing life.
As we return to living in Mexico after three sweet months in the US, The Flavor of Being Here grabs me quickly, in short bursts, like a series of mini-movies, often in themes.
Today I want to talk about the themes of animals, Los Animales.
Animals have a big place in this life, in this village. Whether we officially share our home with one or three of them, or whether they are a peripheral part of the fabric of our daily life, there is no way to not interact with animals as we go about our day.
The sound of roosters weaves into our dreams in the very early morning, and later scurry by us on the sidewalk. Dogs run past us on the streets, at the beach, sometimes coming home with us for a quick breakfast before going back to enjoying street life. An occasional horse or two graze in the lot next door, and birds populate our thoughts with their many semi-constant songs.
As a start.
Then there are sightings of crocodiles, geckos who make their kiss-kiss noise somewhere above our heads as we sleep, iguanas crossing the road, bright green chubby lizards sitting on a fence as we come home, shimmery dragonflies, flying cockroaches, the poisonous toads of the rainy season that will kill dogs if they lick it, jaguars in the jungle - and more.
In the first 24 hours since returning, I have had three specific and impactful encounters with Los Animales, each one a tribute to The Flavor of Being Here.
Let me tell you about them.
Los Animales - Flavor #1
I had asked my friend to please get me some litter for Tiji so that I may keep her indoors for our first few days back before we moved into our place in the rancho. The morning after we arrived I drove to her house where she had left me a full bucket of the stuff on the front steps before heading to work. As I park my car across the street from her periwinkle-colored home, I notice her pup, sitting on the stairs, adorably wagging his tail as he sees me, his eyes glued to mine.
I know he is pretty street-savvy and knows his way around the neighborhood. I also know that my friend would not have willingly left him outside while she went out. I have a bunch of things to do, Lila is super excited to see him and is yelping from the car: "Bring him over here!!!"
I am not sure what to do. Is this a planned thing? Is he waiting for another friend to take him to the beach? Should I leave him there or should I take him with me? I call his mom and she does not pick up. I hesitate. Will I mess up some pre-arranged plan if have him hop in my car? Will I be negligent if I leave him?
I decide to err on the side of messing up human plans to ensure doggy safety and off he goes in the back seat with an ecstatic Lila.
As we drive from place to place, errand to errand, eventually crossing three small rivers to get to my house, a warm smile fills up my insides as I re-connect with The Flavor of Being Here. Community, Aliveness, and mostly No-Big-Deal-Ness. A couple of hours later I take him back home, feeling as though I too, am now closer to home.
Los Animales #2
This one is not as fun.
Tiji is gone.
It is dark out. definitely time for bed, and she is not home.
A couple of hours earlier, I had let her out on the patio of our apartment while I took Lila on a quick walk down the block. Within seconds I had heard some chaos, hissing, possibly fighting, and had turned around immediately. I had been calling her ever since and now we were going to sleep without her.
Where was she? How was she? Even though we are only two blocks from where I found her almost a year ago, I knew she did not know her way around. She may still have a tiny bit of the sedative from the flight in her. Why did I let her out on the patio? I felt sick.
Earlier that day, as I could tell she wanted to go explore the many plants and hiding places in the courtyard by the apartment, I had asked a neighbor about dogs. Were there dogs around the multi-colored casitas that made up this place who may be dangerous to her? No, no problems with dogs. Ok, that meant to me that while I would not set her loose, she could still be right by the door for two minutes, enjoying some fresh air from her home country.
As I woke up from a fitful night the next morning I learned that there was a very territorial cat across the courtyard. White, one green eye, and one blue eye, he was king of the domain and made sure of it. I guess I had not asked about that.
I called her over and over again, I looked up and down this foliage-dense place and I asked each and every neighbor on their way to work. I visualized her home and asked friends to do the same. I posted her photo on Facebook.
And then, one of the men I had talked with earlier came by my door and said: "Hey, the big white cat is looking up the ficus tree at a smaller cat." I just about jumped over the wrought-iron fence and to the bottom of the ficus tree where indeed, the white cat was looking up at ... Tiji.
I won't go into details about the rest of the day, which included her deciding that she really liked the tree as well as other hiding places in this man-made jungle. Finally, before the sun went down last night, I pulled the mama card and brought her furry butt back inside where she will remain until we move this weekend.
She is asleep by my side as I write this.
Los Animales #3
While Tiji was intent on being Queen of the Jungle from her dark green perch, Lila and I went on a morning beach walk. There was energy to release and feelings to feel, and the sounds and smells of the ocean were going to help with that. Lila waded in the waves, I felt the sand under my feet and relished temporarily living two blocks from this morsel of paradise.
I had taken my phone with me and when it rang and lit up with the name of someone I love, I took the call and my friend and I chatted while I walked. He was in Seattle and we were once again connecting over the miles.
As we talked about what it was like to be back, I looked down and holy smokes ... crawling its way out of the sand was a tiny baby turtle! No egg, no siblings, turned away from the ocean. I told my friend, and out loud wondered what the right thing to do was.
I had seen baby turtles hatch from their egg and make their way to the ocean, launching themselves into the crashing waves, and against what seemed to make sense, making it past the break and starting their big journey into their world. I had seen it once when I had first arrived and it had made a big impression on me. A burst of inspiration which I have carried in my heart ever since - and possibly re-enacted in my own life a couple of times since.
But this? I wasn't sure.
I am no turtle expert - by a long shot - but I know enough to know that baby turtles need to be in the ocean. And this little guy was heading towards the other way, towards buildings and humans and god knows what. So, with my friend on the other end of the line ("please stay with me, I am not sure what I am doing... is he going to bite me? please just stay on the phone") I picked up the tiny, squirming turtle in the palm of my open hand, and with my friend with me, I walked to the edge of the water, Lila looking on. I bent down and whispered good wishes and placed him on the sand. The first wave gently got him closer to the big deep universe and the next one took him along to maybe a long life.
Talk about a morning phone call.
Talk about a morning.
Talk about immersion to The Flavor of Being Here.
Hours later I was receiving (and I am pretty sure, failed) a lesson in Machete-Wielding.
It felt darn good to close the apartment door, all three of us inside, and climb into bed, and I am going to look into planting a ficus tree in our yard.
SCARED OF THE SACRED