Monday, August 18, 2008

A Self Divided

In my last few days in California, I squeezed in a few final activities. My family celebrated my 30th birthday with me on Friday, my sister and I went to the Getty with a group from her church on Saturday, and friends took me out to lunch for my birthday and I saw the second Sisterhood movie with two other friends on Sunday. On Monday I worked at the church office and then finished packing. At 4 am Tuesday, it was time for me to enter the Wood Between the Worlds (Magician's Nephew if you don't know the reference). An airport shuttle arrived to take me to LAX for the transfer from one world to another.

If you have lived in another country for any period of time, you're probably familiar with what I'm about to describe. If you haven't then the description is inadequate, but I'll do my best. The sensation of leaving behind one set of friends, family, and familiar places to transplant to another set of loved ones and familiar places is, for me, like having two separate selves. One Rachel lives in Southern California and one lives in Puebla and goes by Raquel most of the time. There's a third Rachel that lives in Kenya, but she hasn't been awake for a long time.

When the time came to leave Southern California, the shuttle, airplanes, bus and taxi acted as a Wood Between the Worlds - a neither-here-nor-there place. The Southern California Rachel went into suspended animation as soon as the shuttle arrived, but the Puebla Rachel/Raquel hadn't awakened either.

She woke up when roommate Bethany opened the door of the apartment and we lugged four heavy pieces of baggage up the stairs. No time had passed, summer was erased, and the Puebla Rachel/Raquel took up where she'd left off in June. If you've ever read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, it describes how the main character Aerin is loved by prince Tor but is injured and healed (and made semi-immortal) by Luthe who also loves her. Luthe puts the memory of himself to sleep in her mind so that she can live a normal life with Tor and then return to Luthe when Tor dies. That is almost exactly what it's like to live between Southern California which I love and Puebla which I also love.

Or to press the point even further, now that I have lived in these different places and loved being there, it is more vividly real to me that heaven is our only true home. I will never live anywhere where I am completely undivided until I'm in heaven. It's like what Frodo says to Samwise in The Return of the King, "...and you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on." - an imperfect reference to be sure because Sam was remaining behind in the Shire while Frodo left him, but it sort of works.

I will post with more detailed accounts of the airport "excitement" later, but right now I need to get ready to go on our PCS staff retreat for two days. Thank you to all who prayed. Keep it up! I love you!


Joy said...

I'm glad you (and apparently your luggage) made it safely. Looking forward to more details on the Adventures in the Wood Between the Worlds.

I know what it's like having a "divided" self. It's weird having different parts of you all over the world.

Don't forget this part of your life, though!

Bookwyrme said...

This part of the world misses Rachel very much!

Take care of yourself, Raquel.