Shades of Shared Exile

Tonight I left a literary conversation at the library, “From Exile to Home: Postwar L.A. Literary Life ” to reflect on and relish my weekend with a dear friend who visited me in L.A. over the long weekend for the first time since her initial visit here 12 years ago.  I mention the ALOUD program above because Hannah and I have had a certain kind of friendship of exile, visiting each other- after our initial kinship began in Valparaíso, Chile- in various locales around the world, in places of intentional exile.   Our inaugural meeting was in the Newark airport, anxious 20-year olds boarding a flight to Santiago de Chile that would plunge us into a semester-long journey untangling Chilean-isms from the tongues of the porteños of Valparaíso.  We would share an epic 24-hour bus ride together to the driest desert in the world, console homesick moments with gelato-dates, and cross the Andes mountains from Chile to Argentina for a lesson on the difference between manjar and dulce de leche, where we also learned why we preferred our chosen country of study to the one on the other side of the border.  It was a baptism into the international waters of adventure and self-discovery, and my entry into the Spanish-speaking world, a world that from that moment on became part of an identity that few here have experienced with me. Yet I am blessed to share friendships with a few special souls with whom those impressionable moments were shared.  The affinity that develops from those moments becomes as strong as the magic that pulls one to the places of exile in the first place.

Hannah’s and my shared adventures, born in Chile in 1999, continued when I got to show her the blue and gold of my Bruin life, shortly before we strapped the backpacks back on for an eye-opening trip to Cuba in 2001.   Stateside once again, Hannah gave me my first and only introduction to the Big Apple and then visited me during one of my work trips to D.C.  Our memory making continued with a visit to Berlin during the 2006 World Cup- where she hosted me in her family’s flat, and reprieved me of an onerous group of art patrons by means of Berlin’s beer gardens, bike rides, and flea markets.   After that, it was my turn to host on the European continent- Hannah came to live with me for a few days on Rua da Esperança (Hope Street) – in Lisboa.  She ascended the dark hallway of my 3-story building, toasted vinho tinto with my friends over plates of fresh fish, and heard the sounds of the same fado that reminds my heart it will always have a tear to cry for the River Tejo.

And now back in Los Angeles, one of my many homes, we feasted on what just became my favorite taco in all of L.A., wandered the art galleries of our local museum, and surveyed the city from the hills of Griffith Park.   I took her to another Hope Street- this one the site of Central Library.  She saw my world here and helped me smell the freshly blooming jasmine a bit more strongly, to relish the fresh produce of our colorful year-round farmers’ markets (I sent her home to Chicago with a bag full of avocados).

Thanks to Hannah, I traveled back to so many of the magical places of my “exile” this past weekend, all the while seeding dreams for future adventures.  What a gift to have beautiful people in my life who connect the places and moments of my colorful past together, while helping to weave them with new memories into the future.

I went back for seconds after round 1…Guisados in Boyle Heights tops the list for the freshest tortillas and best fillings (vegan-friendly!)

Perfectly purple, bathing in the low tides of Point Dume, Malibu

Perfumed walks among the February blooms of jasmine


~ by maureenmoore on February 22, 2012.

One Response to “Shades of Shared Exile”

  1. Ummmm… I am officially obsessed with you; what an adventure of authentic courage your life has been! moly of the holy.

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