While on the bus to the Lake District, I take a scarf and cover my eyes. The bus is loud and I already feel overstimulated. Sense, of all sorts, is overwhelming; I’ve had to leave a room before to escape the noise. Life is overwhelming. With headphones, I find myself alone. I can try to think about home, about where I am, about family and friends and feelings. The trees watch our overcrowded bus drive by a lake. The water silhouettes a man, sitting on a stump in the forest, his fishing pole above the water. He is fixing his line.
I close my eyes, we turn a corner. For a split second, music tunes my senses towards the sun on my face. I rest in its heat. On the inside of my eyelids I see the stone walls, the sheep, and the bright green grass all warming in the sunlight. I can almost feel the lake breeze blowing past the fisherman up the hill to the bus.
We arrive in the Lake District. To say the least, I feel disoriented. It’s not just the loud bus or my tired body; my mind is hazy. I exit the bus. I am grounded now, my feet planted on earth. That should help, but it doesn’t. Instead, the darkness glares in at me from the dining room window. I feel it. How do I shake it? I know I should enjoy this beautiful place, but instead I sit facing the window. Blank-faced, zoned out.
Our waiters sound different. I try to catch the accent, a little solace from my classmates’ overtly American conversation…I’m here in the Lake District; I am fighting to be present, I want to be here. But, at the same time, my heart yearns for the brokenness of home. It’s maddening.
The dark green mountains peer at me from far beyond the dining room table. The clamor is incessant. I should step outside. Thank you Lord for beautiful places, even when I don’t belong and my mind is elsewhere.
One small question brings me back—links worlds—I ask the waitress, “Do you speak French?”
“What do you speak?”
It’s so close to home, but miles away. She’s not from Mexico.
Two days pass; we leave, load into the bus again. We stop to visit Hadrian’s Wall. I walk on this border line between England and Scotland. The wall marks the ending of one place and the beginning of another, and I stand divided. A little south of this island is Spain, across the Atlantic is America, under another line is Mexico, and down Carretera Doscientos is my hometown that haunts me—Ometepec.
Andrew is making a memoir debut in this fall issue. His favorite book is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and is a fan of the show Friends.