I feel like my journey home really began at 11 p.m. on January 11. I had just settled in to get some sleep before my flight to Kolkata from the small Shillong airport the next afternoon. That’s when the phone rang. “So sorry, madam, but your flight has been cancelled.” Well. To hell with thinking like a Hindu. My Buddhist training about acceptance? Out the window. When I get going, my mouth can make a sailor blush and the poor man on the other end of the line got an earful.
Lesson learned. It’s easy to be a Buddhist when things go our way. I’ve got a long ways to go.
The college gates were locked. The campus was dark. My friends were gone and I’d already turned off my internet. But I knew there was a priest somewhere so I tore across campus to pound on the Father’s door. I figured a man of god had to help me. By then I had managed to rein in my tongue. It wasn’t his fault either.
A few panicked phone calls to Rakhal and another to one of the USIEF guys in Delhi (who justifiably said, “What do you want me to do about it?”). Some rearranging, very little sleep and by 5 a.m. I was on the road to the Guwahati airport. It’s only 95 kilometers away, but because of poor roads and constant traffic jams even at that early hour the ride took 5 1/2 hours. I was grateful it was so quick. The route has taken as long as 9 hours in the past.
Then came the 13 hour layover in Kolkata where I rented a cot in the women’s dormitory with a bunch of beautiful, laughing Indian women ranging in age from 19 to 90, a bit of sleep, a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt, a quick 4 hour layover, another 10 hour flight to Denver. Six hours in the Denver airport. Then Reno and an hour and a half drive home with my son who came to get me in my pickup. When he opened the door for me, fast food wrappers, CDs, dirty socks, a pair of gym shorts and god knows what else came tumbling out into the parking lot. I kept my mouth shut. I really was glad to see him.
So I’m home again. It’s going to take some time to get the house back to my standards, but there’s nothing moldy or green growing anywhere and everything is in one piece. The animals are fine, so I’m practicing appreciation.
And I am glad to be home. I live in a small town that’s subject to a lot of kvetching. We’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing to do (i.e. no shopping malls). There are two big prisons. Okay, I’m not crazy about the prisons myself, but I love it here and I love my home on the hill. I’m grateful that there are no shopping malls and I like being far from a freeway. It’s isolated and quiet, one of the last bastions of what still feels like a bit like the old west. After six months in a humid climate my lips are parched and dry, but they’ll re-acclimate. And so will I.
Yesterday a bald eagle circled the hill. Deer graze outside the back door. There’s only one other house in sight and it’s across the valley. Sunday night my sangha came over for a potluck and I realized just how lucky I am to have so much. Friends here. Friends in India. I’ve been blessed with some amazing people in my life.
When you go out into the world it changes you. Sometimes subtly. Sometimes more dramatically. But I think it always enriches you, teaches us about ourselves and makes life so much more textured and interesting.