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28th January
written by Michelle

It has been so good to be back.

Back to grocery shopping, swerving for pot holes and waiting in line at the bank.

Back to saying buenos dias and buying fresh squeezed orange juice from the stand with the green umbrella.

Back to my messy desk and piles that make sense only to me. Back to a dog that likes to sleep as much as I do.

Back to sunny mornings, and church bells and fire crackers.

Our car needs new tiers, the house is dusty, and I feel a little behind on everything, but we are home.

And home feels so good.

I don’t exactly remember when Guatemala started to feel like home. I came here for the first time in 2007, and didn’t want to  leave. But it wasn’t really home quite yet. I visited in 2008 and 2009, and was tempted to move, but that seemed too crazy. What I do remember is for about a good two years while living in Santa Barbara I had this consistent, quiet heaviness that lived buried underneath layers of busyness and stress. I kept my schedule full and my heart just slightly disengaged. I thought I could be the best teacher, run an after-school program on the Westside, make it to the gym, meet with my small group, do some emails and cram in a quick dinner and get by.

But if you have ever tried to keep anything buried inside for too long than you know how this goes. Things buried inside eventually do come out, and often not in the prettiest way.  Mine came out through tears on Friday afternoons while sitting in my white Honda and then, eventually in a counselor’s office. I had to learn to listen to myself. And to stop being so damn, practical. My life looked great on paper and I was trying my hardest to convince myself that it was. But I’ve learned that a life that looks good on paper, may not necessarily be the life that I want.

I knew deep down I wanted a change. I needed a change. Something was missing from my life. And it scared me because I knew that in order to find it I would have to take a risk. To let go and leave.

And for me that risk was Guatemala. Maybe for you that risk is starting a grad school program, or making the first phone call, or being willing to move even when it makes sense to no one else. Risks are hard. Especially for pragmatic, controlling people like me. Risks don’t always make sense in the process, and maybe not always in retrospect either. I think that’s the nature of a risk.

It would be misleading not to mention that dating and marry Gerber was a huge part of this “something missing.” My longing for a partner and to be married for most of my twenties was obviously part of my journey, but it wasn’t everything. For years in Santa Barbara I had this ache to be settled, to feel at home. And for a reason I may never understand…this tall, white, California girl found it here, in Guatemala.

I guess 5 weeks away makes me appreciate it all the more.

Where do you feel most at home? Or with whom?


P.S And yes, I will get around to posting a few pictures from our travels- even though it is wonderful to be home, we did have a great time in the states!


  1. 28/01/2013

    I can relate to this so much Michelle… Only my feelings too me to Alaska! Thanks for sharing and making those of us who’s reality look so different from the version he saw on paper, seem so understood!

  2. 29/01/2013

    Welcome back, Michelle! I’m so glad you have found a home here! I can relate to the crying at work and trying to bury the desire to move, to risk. to try something impractical. I still don’t feel quite at home here, but it’s been quite an adventure and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

  3. 29/01/2013

    I just love your thoughfulness, your way with words, and your candor. As my job changes and my daughter gets older, I realize that at different times different things make me feel settled and comfortable. Now, hanging out at a dance studio feels like home and work feels secondary; that’s definitely a huge change for me and I am trying to be okay with that

  4. Jeannette cooper

    This was so beautiful, Michelle!!! I loved it! I’m so happy for you that my heart is spilling out everywhere right now. I feel so lucky to have known you during that first 2007 trip when you (and i) fell in love with the wondrous land of Guatemala. You were so courageous to follow your intuition, and now look where you are! Felicidades amiga mia!!!!!!!!

  5. Abigail

    I love this post. Totally relate, and it’s encouraging to me!

  6. […] blog itself is one that’s fairly new to me, having stumbled upon it the way you might meet a friend of […]

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