Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Letter to Diane

November ?, 2008

Dear Diane,

My one and only true friend - who I've neglected over these crazy past seven years. How you still consider me as a friend, I'll never know. I've never felt so isolated, alone, frustrated and tired. I am sitting here in my beautiful but unfinished house by a stunning river. But I'm sitting in a $5 plastic chair with a fruit crate for a table. There is so much undone. I have no joy, and no desire to even start on anything. I look around at my pathetic attempts to make this place a home...baskets I made from Ivy and willow twigs down by the river when it was warm. Punched copper lampshades I made for lightbulbs that have no electricity running to them. The lovely woven wool throws and tapestries with nothing to throw or drape them on...rugs, a cow hide, and a hadn-hooked rug laying on a raw-wood floor. Books with no shelf to put them on. It's a Hobo House with no joy. It's raining, and I have pneumonia. Doesn't that beat all?

This (Patagonia)is probably the worlds MOST BEAUTIFUL place, but it is also the hardest place in the world to live. With the volcano destroying Chaiten and the port, we are even more cut-off and isolated. It is a Twilight Zone of massive proportions. If it were the "end times" of a catostrophic world melt down, here is where I would want to be. But because it is not the end of the world, it feels like it here. It's hard.

I know I'm a whining bag of shit, but I need to whine and piss and moan. And the crazy thing is, I LOVE Patagonia. I didn't even flinch when the volcano blew and a half a foot of ash covered the town and we walked around with masks and ash seeped in through window and door frames and we got our water from water trucks and it was so cold we slept in our coats and hats and I was afraid my ass would freeze to the toilet seat.

I don't know how to do this anymore though. Other people know how to do this. They grew up doing this. They know how to keep warm in the winter, dry in the spring, and grow food and fix water lines, and build chicken coops, and smoke meat and weave and knit wool and trade for milk or sugar and cheese. Their gardens pop up lush and green while my seeds die in the husks. My firewood won't catch but then it does and I burn my eyelashes off again trying to keep it going. I look in a mirror and I think, "My God! How did that happen in just one-years time?" I am an accidental hobo wishing for a white picket fence and a rocking chair and some roses in the yard. I wanted Mayberry and I got the Twilight Zone.

And the really crazy thing is...I'm ruined now. I've tasted the wild winds and pounding rain and lacey mountains and electric blue rivers...the hard meaness and soft days that craddle me in a shit-storm world, and I don't think I can ever go back to life in the U.S. Is this my tipping point? Patagonia drives me crazy. It has stabbed me in the heart and left me standing like a complete dope, yet my heart has healed around it and embraced it and fallen in love. I walked down to the screaming river a while back. The water was so cold it burned. It was a warm day and still snow on the mountains. I sat on the bank and smelled the dirt, and the water and the trees and I had a feeling like my soul was home. And as I sat there the river began to sing. It was voices, three-part harmony, just soft, but definately not my imagination. And for that moment I felt ok. In that crazy moment in time, by the river, in Patagonia, I thought, "I can't ever go back".

Diane, I know you must think I've lost my mind now, but I'm safe because I'm too far away for you to have me committed. And most likely I will not send you this letter. Who knows. I hope my other friend, Nono, will appear on the path down to the house, and in her laughing, mocking sing-song Chilena Spanish, she will pick up a brush and shame me into finishing the varnish work, or she will poke the fire with her calloused hand and it will spring up to life. She might make us come to her house for dinner where we will eat mutton with our fingers and sop up the juices with soda bread and drink chicha in chipped jelly glasses and it will be warm and happy and I will feel alright once again.



Laura said...


I love all your writings but was so touched by this-and completely understand how you can be so torn. Wish you were closer to me here in the country in central Chile-we'd babble in English to our heart's content, and have a few drinks, a few laughs, whine and complain, and happily go on doing what we love here in Chile.

Vicki Lansen said...

Laura, thank you so much for sharing that you know what it feels like, and just knowing that I am not really alone make it feel better. As I said, the most frustrating thing is that I love it too much to leave, yet I'm not quite at home. I'm giving it time.