I can’t tell if the world is actually shrinking, or if I am just learning to appreciate how small it has always been. No matter how far away from home I travel, I rarely feel like it is far away. Even better, I’ve been lucky to have so many homes away from home over the years. Some of these second homes have been just minutes away from my real house in Oakland. At other times I have been taken in by people and families in Costa Rica, Guahan, New Zealand, South Africa, Cape Verde—and now, Colombia. There will always be those awkward moments, but they are heavily outweighed by the moments that can turn any four walls and a roof into home base.
After leaving Cape Verde earlier this month, I got to spend a week back home in the Bay Area. It was pretty much perfect. I spent a lot of time with some of the very people who have provided me with a home away from home over the years. Dinner at the home of Chuck and Paula Collins, where I was a quasi-perpetual boarder while going to high school in San Francisco. Thank you for the fish, and thank you for sparing me so many long commutes home after soccer practice and other "extracurricular activities." Also, there was a long-overdue meal shared with Eddie and Helena Wasp, who would open their home at Lake Tahoe to my family every winter when I was little. Thank you for every snowball fight, ski lesson, and fireside game of Pictionary. Sidebar: I think it's time for a cultural renaissance centered around the revival of old-school board games.
I also got to spend a few hours with my "music mama," Ayana. From age two, Ayana was my first piano teacher, and so much more. Thank you for opening your home, filled with student-sized instruments for me to explore: the piano, the drums, the guitar, the trumpet, the violin.*
I was surprised to realize how I was not spending my time. For example, I never once stepped foot inside the Bladium—in fact, the only soccer I played was during an impromptu "Intro to Kicking Things" clinic with my nephew on the back porch. He is showing promise. Also, I never really "went out." No concerts, no dancing, no late nights at the bar. I am a little surprised that I didn't put more energy into eating at all of the places that had been causing my home-sickness inducing food cravings during the past year. We started off strong with a Zachary's pizza party for the family on Sunday—in fact, I was eating leftover deep dish pizza for breakfast lunch and dinner well into midweek. I did make it to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Tamarindo, where I shared Mexican Tapas and assorted tequila-based beverages with my friend, Alex.
After living for a year without direct access to a grill, you know I had to take advantage of being home during the BBQ season, which, in the Bay Area, lasts from June until the following June. We managed a modest three grilling sessions during an eight-day stretch. The first was courtesy of Bumbalo and Sara. You may remember them as the proud parents of Charlie and Chance, two of "My Favorite Dogs in the World." Now they have an actual real live human baby named Tyler, so David has become the first member of my immediate rat pack to be a daddy. The chicken was juicy and the baby is a cutie. Good luck at the wedding next month, and I'm sorry I can't be there for it.
The final BBQ was truly the Coup de grâce, hosted by my sister and her boyfriend at their house in North Oakland. I do feel bad that I didn’t get to socialize a little more while there—I spent the first hour destroying my brother, Barry, in a too-easy game of bones. When he finally got in line to domino, and “won” a round, he set a new world record for the sorriest collection of dominoes collected from the hands of your opponent. Literally, when he went out Trevor, Unity and I coughed up six of the most worthless dominoes in the game. His bounty: a grand total of 13 points (yes, we let him round it up to 15). Please enjoy his expression of non-triumph, be we enjoyed it so much that we took pictures. He handled it all with amazing grace. Truthfully, the real reason that I slacked on the socializing is that I took a nap at 9pm—the kind of nap that lasts until the next morning.
When I wasn't scarfing down grilled goodies, I was doing my best to see all of my peoples. Of course I missed a few folks due to time constraints, but I'm not worried because I know I will be back. The more I travel, the more I feel the world shrinking. But each time I come back to Oakland, I become more and more convinced that you can only have one true home.
On Tuesday I arrived in Barranquilla, Colombia, and all I can say is... chevere. Unfortunately, security precautions prevent me from posting the name of my barrio, but trust me—it is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. Well... that’s all I have to say about that.***
* No, I cannot still play all of these instruments, but I'm flattered that you would even consider that possibility.
** No, that is not his real name.
*** No, that is not really all I have to say about Barranquilla. I guess I just felt like quoting Forrest Gump, plus I need a few more days before I start processing it all. Next week I will be writing more about life here in Colombia, so please stay tuned.