The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.
Much has been made of the length of time expats stay in their adopted home. I guess the average is 3.63 years. I am making the number up, but it is close, and illustrates the facts that we live in a world that changes quickly and that quantity means less than quality.
Like many, I had left a world strung together by fear and anxiety when I arrived in Ecuador. I sought refuge in a culture that I knew valued the arts, education, and music, and encouraged its expression throughout the country.
But, I never really considered the opportunity for deep friendships to be part of the equation.
I had been desensitized. Where I came from, everyday human contact had been co-opted by confused ideologies promoting fear, suspicion and outright hatred fostered in the left to fester neighborhoods I worked in. The stench reached all the way from the television to the outer edges of Portland, Oregon.
The tv blared bad news that deafened the senses, the newspapers reported horror stories repeated so often, they wore flat — like roadkill.
I had become disoriented by the incendiary diatribes — a smoky field where if someone called out to me to offer words of warning, or murmers of comfort, I would never know. I could not hear anything above the din, I could not see beyond the swirling fog of discontentment, a river swollen with anguish and detritus, remnants of a once proud union that is now fragmented and shattered like a windshield after a head-on collision.
When chatting with friends here, I have on occasion, drawn reference to Ray Charles, who famously remarked to an overly enthusiastic disc jockey during a live interview on the radio, “No sir, I did not move to Seattle, I moved away from Georgia.” The significance of this simple sentence has intrigued me for years.
As for me, I did not move away from Vancouver, USA, I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. And I am thankful every day that I did. I love Cuenca for many reasons. But, I love it most for the love, the unrequited love it extends to everybody.
Tim Nacey began writing to me over a year ago. He came to Cuenca last year about this time to check it out and is moving here in a couple months. As I recall, when he first wrote to say he had decided to take the plunge, he also asked me this, “Will I find love in Cuenca?” I said yes, you will indeed, because it is true. I believe in the power of transformative love, where one can become who they are designed to be if they are encouraged, supported, and well … loved.
This is the essence of the people of Cuenca.
Rarely have I encountered a place where so many opportunities for positive, influential, and insightful ideas are not only accepted but folded and baked into the sweet cake we know as home. IdiomArt certainly holds that distinction, so does the Jeff Saltz venture, Fusion, and Fishbon del Sur, a center for creatives with a penchant for theatre. Fishbon is entering their fifth year in Cuenca.
Now is a good time for all of us to reflect on the perhaps dusty road that lead us here. We have a lot to be thankful for, from the ‘Starry Night” painting class at San Seabas to the bright lights and “action” of Azuay Community Theatre.
Many have become light itself, illuminating fresh ideas and ways of understanding. Others hold a light in their hands, creating visions of a world at peace with itself. And, we can all do this: thank our lucky stars. For we are all part of a universe too vast to grasp, save a little speck of it.
That speck is the stardust that seasons our lives every single day.