New Country

I woke up this morning in a strange country. Not the one I thought I was in. Not one I know how to name.

I had been working on a post for today about a responsive universe and about the ways we ready ourselves to make space for the changes we seek. In that post I was going to talk about how we usually get what we ask for, but our sense of timing and wanting often obscure this from view. Maybe I will make that post later. Maybe this is that post and it’s just not written from the vantage point I thought I was standing on.

When I prepared to leave the U.S. to live abroad for the first time in my life, I wondered how my relationship to the struggles of my home country would change. I wondered if I would be tempted to look away.

My partner dreams of going to space someday, and he often reads about the experience. He tells me that astronauts say leaving Earth and seeing it from space changes them forever. He’s wondered aloud to me several times before, “What if we could send every person into space, just once, just so they could get some perspective?”

Was it Eckhart Tolle or Carl Sagan who reminded us that we—descended from star particles—are the products of a universe evolving to reflect on itself? I feel like I am staring into my country more from across an ocean than I did or could while I was in it.

My partner and I woke up early in this strange new country to get ready for school. We looked at our cell phone screens in the dark wondering where we live now. Where are we from? Where will we go?

“Maybe we should stay in Spain.”

Maybe. But as I got dressed in the dim light filtering in through a crack in the window shade, I felt a deep exhaustion at the core of my chest. I know it’s not that easy.

from a train window: sun rising, south of Madrid

From 8:30am to 3:10pm, it is my job to talk to Spanish teenagers and their teachers in English. The Spanish government pays me, my partner, and 5,000 other native English speakers to do this every year. How many American high schoolers do you think know anything about the Spanish government? I’ve lost count of the number of young people here who asked me before the election if I liked Donald Trump. They tell me they are scared of him.

I come home from school and plug my computer into the TV to watch the live stream of Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. There’s the little map at the bottom of the screen showing blocks of red and blue. And I wonder, what is this country? There are the numbers ticking through—several dozen ways to say “just about half and half.”

Each half frightened by the other.

The boundaries of this strange new country do not follow lines on a map. I could not step outside them any more than we could build a wall along them.