Around the World in 70 Years


Around the World in 70 Years
A Life’s Travelogue in Haibun

Image: mapsnworld.com

Image: mapsnworld.com

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.

Beautiful Jura,
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.

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22 thoughts on “Around the World in 70 Years

  1. Mary says:

    What a wonderful write, Victoria. I knew a bit about your life from various poems; but this gives me more background which I appreciated. I think when you dream in a language you must really know it well. It is good that you felt free to change course midstream in your life, still continuing the caring work that you had begun in the earlier years. I love the diversity of the experiences you had! You definitely have led / still lead a rich life.

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  2. Gabriella says:

    Great haibu, Victoria! I enjoed reading about your numerous journeys. I spent a week in Lons Le Saunier a couple of years ago, and appreciated the quiet of the town, the scenery and the food and wine.

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  3. I love that you gave us your journey. I had babies at St. Agnes Hospital in ’65 and ’66 in Baltimore. Your journey took you back to Cali and mine to Texas. My husband just missed being hired for Fairchild Electronics which would have placed us there instead of Baltimore. I wonder how that might have worked. I always feel such a connection to you Victoria as we’re about the same age. I wish we were neighbors and could have morning tea/coffee and chats. You always inspire me. Gay

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  4. a beautiful lifes journey – love the title and the last haiku summing it all up – K

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  5. Susan says:

    How lovely to live and study and work your way through so many places and ideas. Thank you for taking this approach to the prompt which let me know you better.

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  6. I enjoyed the summation of your life – some of which I already knew, but a haibun is a clever way to put it all in context.

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  7. Home is within! And such a nice journey there!

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  8. Bryan Ens says:

    no need to apologize for the length…this was a wonderful glimpse into your life and who you are. Thank you!!

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  9. glad you stopped to share your travels…. seems you may have a lot to write about

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  10. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Nevada gal, I remember now when I did my poem about THE MISFITS, you had special insights into my feelings about it & Reno & life. This haibun thrilled me, scooped me up with the whirlwind of your life, thrilled me at each juncture; wow, far from too long, found it to be only an appetizer; making me want the entree even more.

    Like

  11. Jennifer G. Knoblock says:

    Wonderful story of your experiences–thank you for sharing it! I’m fascinated by your time in France and how you began to dream in French…

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  12. lynndiane says:

    I’m glad you shared this biography with us, Victoria…an interesting life you’ve led…and nicely “remixed” with prose & poetry.

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  13. Sumana Roy says:

    what an interesting read…love the haiku and the wonderful descriptions of your experiences…seeing new lands, learning new languages…great living…

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  14. Abhra says:

    We search for beauty,
    travel far and wide, looking—
    find that home’s within.

    That is the most soulful find. Wonderful – and thanks for sharing the story. I am glad I could inspire you to bring out such a wonderful piece. Truly around the world.

    Thank you.

    Like

  15. journalread says:

    I enjoyed the way you’ve structured the poem between the exposition of your story, Victoria. Lovely.

    Like

  16. MarinaSofia says:

    I enjoyed your life story and the poems you have associated with it – you’ve been to some interesting places and done such interesting things! Lons le Saunier is not that far away from where I live now, so I feel a special bond there…

    Like

  17. billgncs says:

    what a beautiful life – lived beyond the myth which is a strong thing indeed

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  18. What a well travelled woman you are.. And what a life of travel you have experienced.. Still I have a feeling that the goal of a home of your own is the goal that matter most. I love the haibun as you know, and the haiku works so well with your prose. I never felt it was a long piece.

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  19. claudia says:

    nice… you did quite some journeying – and i love that it gave you the opportunity as well to learn another language and meet so many different people – it certainly broadens our view on life

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  20. kaykuala says:

    Oh that’s wonderful life Victoria! Half-way around the world. We had been to Reno, Hoover Dam Las Vegas the Nevada a long time ago. Beautiful place! Staying there is just fantastic. Needn’t be anywhere else. Was snowing on the ground. We had some snowmobile rides in one of the golf courses along the way. It would have been fun to golf otherwise. Thanks for sharing Ma’am!

    Hank

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  21. brian miller says:

    wow v…you have been a little bit of everywhere…ha…i may be able to match you in the states…i have worked at least a day in half the states now…and visited all but a handful…i would love to go overseas though….what an interesting life you have lived…

    Like

  22. Mother Hen says:

    I have enjoyed reading about your adventures!

    Like

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