My earliest memory is of the blue rubber flooring in the train station in Milan, Italy. I remember the particularly acrid smell of the rubber, the raised blue circles to give the floor traction, the black smudges from the shoes of travelers rushing to catch a train. My mom and I were on our way to visit my grandmother at her home in Peci, a small village near Trieste. I held my mom's hand and helped keep watch over our suitcases. I must have been 3 years old.
I also remember plants and flowers at our house in Adelino, New Mexico when my mom and dad were still married. In the sunroom, surrounded by thick adobe walls and large windows with paper hawk silhouettes taped on the glass so that the wild birds outside wouldn't crash into them, my mom planted a rainbow of geraniums in huge wooden whisky barrels. I would help water the plants with my little plastic watering can, and when the geraniums were in full flower I would pick off the blossoms and make hot pink and red and white bouquets to give to my mom or my dad or my nani (Priscilla, my spanish-speaking nanny who would look after me while my parents were at work).
In the outdoor flowerbeds along the walls of the house, my mom planted beautiful flowers each year. I remember my excitement upon spotting the first grape hyacinths to pierce the soil, their little purple heads reaching up defiantly after a winter of snow and frost. Then came the crocuses in pastel hues, followed by an assortment of irises and full-sized hyacinths. The hyacinths were always my favorites. I absolutely love the way they smell, and can recall the particular sweet aroma to this day, even though it's been at least 10 years since the last time I rested my nose among the clusters of small flowers to get a taste of that amazing perfume.
We also had an orchard behind the house, rows of trees bearing apples, pears, peaches and plums. I loved to feel the late summer sun on my shoulders while my mom picked fruit and mulched the soil. What a delight to pluck a ripe, sun-warmed apple or peach off the tree and take a bite, juice dribbling down my chin and hands and arms. I remember our dogs running around, chasing each other between the trees, and our horses softly trotting and whinnying in the distance, waiting for a bale of hay and a lick of salt.
I grew up in the countryside of New Mexico for the first 5 years of my life, but thanks to my family heritage and my mom's job, I traveled internationally almost from the time I was born. I am now a "city girl", a 21st century nomad, a speaker of many languages and a navigator of many cultures. I have learned to feel at home being homeless, to find the comfort that usually comes with a familiar, time-tried geographical location through abstract things like writing and dancing and art.
I hope to one day strike the right balance between growing roots and wandering the world so that my children's first memories can be just like mine. I want to give them the perfect mix of stability and mobility. I want them to have the perennial flowers, thick fruit trees and animals that can only really come with a fixed geographical home, alongside the languages, landscapes and people of an international existance so that their eyes are opened, in a safe and supporting context, to the limitless possibilities of life.