When my December trip ended, I gathered up some of my clothes and put them in a large plastic bag. The area where I stayed was near an arroyo in a very humble neighborhood, and I had noticed one lady almost everyday. She was the city sweeper for the neighborhood. Dressed in a pumpkin orange jumpsuit, she shuffled along the path near the arroyo with a primitive, twiggy broom in her hands. The woman looked about my size, so I approached her with my bag of pajamas and sweaters.,"Senora, tengo ropa que me gustaria darle a usted, como parece mas o menos la misma talla come yo. Ya me voy a los Estados Unidos." --Ma'm, I have some clothes I'd like to give to you, since you seem about the same size as me. I'm returning soon to the States."
The woman looked up at me with some confusion. I suppose she wasn't used to strangers handing her a bag, much less speaking to her during her shift. However, she took the bag and smiled just a little.
The following day I met the dignified empleada who cleaned the American landlady's sprawling house, including my tiny apartment. Perhaps she had heard about the bag of clothes--news travels fast in these barrios--but the senora gave me a present of her own.
"¿Cuando vas a regresar?" she called down to me from the upper balcony. I looked up as if I had been summoned. "Senora, digame, ¿cuando vas a regresar?" she repeated
"When are you returning?"
Those words haunted me for a year. I felt like the woman was a spiritual messenger, peering down at me with her serious eyes and thick grey hair, urging me to respond to her call.
And, of course, I did return. But the path of volver is often a tricky one. I returned in order to honor the writer within, and to be in a place that I had loved dearly. What I discovered, senora, was that this return was the time for garnering information. Not necessarily was it the final journey. The groundwork for my future, perhaps, for now I have a blog and a poetry book about to be published. I am waiting for some answers, here in my northern prairie.
Nunca se sabe. We never know why we are here, really. There are secrets palpitating within our hidden selves; there are mysteries which refuse to be known until the right time....there are unexpected gifts to be had along the path, a look in an eye, an outstretched arm.