On a recent trip to Guanajuato with my son, I discovered the compelling story of refugee, Eulalio Ferrer, who, after escaping from Franco’s Spain, exchanged a pack of cigarettes for a copy of Don Quixote while in a refugee camp in France. The story of how Don Quixote’s imagination served to create light in the midst of darkness became Eulalio’s survival grail. Eulalio no only amassed the largest collection of Don Quixote iconography in the world, he commissioned artists around the world to honor the myth of Don Quixote, whose heroism to create honor and integrity through the uses of his imagination is what Eulalio credits with saving his own life.
I’ve had many homes
They are the places I mend myself towards beauty
Whether bruised or bold
In its most authentic expression, my home is in the longing
That space of desire is both an exquisite tug
and a delicious release from center
Indicating I am never home and always home
Always - almost home
It is a grieving and festive diaspora within my own flesh landscape
One that straddles leaving and returning
Its intensity most profoundly felt in the in-between-ness
Home is a horizon that extends by virtue of nearing its edge
Its oasis extending faith precisely because it is out of reach
Home is a fiction whose tropes don’t dull it’s power
This is a love letter
This is a memoir
This is a eulogy
This is a musing on home and estrangement
He exchanged a pack of cigarettes for a story
A young Spanish refugee on the beaches of France whose gates flung open to bodies soon to be buried,
bodies that were accepted without being welcomed,
bodies that entered, but never belonged
In this barter of pungent tobacco for a copy of Don Quixote, small enough to fit into his pocket, Eulalio, metaporphosed into his own Christ-like icon, Don Quixote, in every word he ingested.
We sometimes find it necessary to initiate imagination’s power to shapeshift ourselves and our surroundings.
To bravely face windmills disguised as monsters like our valiant protagonist, the Lord of La Mancha.
Or, sometimes, we align with the willingness in each of us to be carried away voluntarily on the creative rivers of belief like Sancho Panza, reminding us that a story only has life where the bard and the board meet
Or, sometimes, like Aldonza and Dulcinea, we straddle the complexities of duality -
Tending to the poignancy of the paradoxes we hold, the paradoxes that we are
Whether forced or fictionalized - we stumble through misadventures to find home