Around the World in 70 Years
A Life’s Travelogue in Haibun
Life has taken me on quite a journey.
Growing up in California in the 40’s and 50’s, when the Los Angeles area still had rural areas, was idyllic—though, no doubt, my therapist years ago nailed it when he told me it was all part of the family myth. I choose to remember otherwise.
Raised on a hilltop,
free to play and climb my trees
no fear of others.
When I decided to enter the convent, I went where they told me, discovered the diversity of my country and France. I lived in Phoenix when the airport only had one room and Scottsdale was a desert away. That’s where I studied nursing. I was educated in the responsibilities of my life’s calling in Queens Village, New York then went to Scranton for my undergraduate degree. At the time the coal mines were abandoned. There was a pile of smoldering refuse burning not far away, filling the air with the constant smell of sulfur, which made chemistry lab quite challenging when it came to identifying the results of our experiments.
Old coal miners spit
spittoons filled with sputum—
black lung disease, death.
In the late 60’s they sent me to Toledo Ohio, Richmond Virginia and Baltimore Maryland where I learned the ins and outs, the up’s and down’s of (trying to) balance the demands of a life of prayer with the reality of nursing and administrative responsibilities.
Autumn in the East,
changing leaves, colors galore,
nature’s gift to me.
Next it was off to France—three months study in Paris to gain proficiency in the language, then a year’s more study in Brittany after which I was sent to Lons le Saulnier in the Jura (the French Alps). At the Motherhouse in Brittany, I lived with 102 women of 39 countries and learned that my point of view was only one way of looking at life. In Lons le Saulnier, no one else spoke English. Immersed in French, I began to dream and think in French. Too bad I’ve let that beautiful language go dormant. Life was simple there. Sometimes when I’ve been under a lot of stress, especially when I was still working, I dream in French.
shrouded—a winter ice-scape
to you I escape.
After returning to my country I spent time in Indiana, Ohio, Delaware, Michigan, back to Scranton then ended up in my home state of California, only in the Bay Area. It took a long time to realize that making the choice I made at 17, though good to me for many years and in many ways, didn’t work so well for someone already prone to perfectionism.
I then left the convent and went out on my own, living by the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay, 20 miles south of San Francisco. I commuted to the City, went to school for a Master’s Degree, managed one of the first AIDS units in San Francisco. Within the year I met my husband. We lived in Half Moon Bay until I finished school then moved to Reno, Nevada where we could afford a home and didn’t have to spend our lives commuting to work.
Life—its twists and turns
leads us on a growth journey.
It doesn’t matter where.
We search for beauty,
travel far and wide, looking—
find that home’s within.
It’s been too long since I wrote something new and Abhra Pal invites us to take a trip around the world today. When I started this I had the idea of writing a haiku for each place, but clearly that would be a bit much. So here’s a synopsis that even omits my travels and times I spent elsewhere for short periods of time, such as El Salvador after a significant earthquake.
Sorry this is so long!
Right now I’m waiting for CreateSpace to okay my formating (for my novel) then I’ll order a proof, review it, revise as necessary–so this is a good time to take a breather and a dose of poetry! I will return in the morning to read.