Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gringa Faux Pas Part 3

The maid tells me I am very brave for staying out at this house by myself. She is not the first person to tell me this, and I'm sure she won't be the last. Americans and Mexicans alike have said the same thing, although truth be told I'm not sure why. I am living in a beautiful house surrounded by an (almost) invincible wall, with my own guard dog with a deep ferocious bark but cheery disposition, a night watchman, and, for good measure, a big ass machete next to the bed. (The machete was already there, mind you...I would never actually pick a machete as my weapon of choice).
So anyway, she tells me how "valiente" I am, and I tell her all the things stated here about how I really don't feel that brave, and then this supposedly kind-hearted woman throws it in my face: "Bueno, valiente, sí, pero con miedo de arañas."
So okay, it wasn't that big of a spider...but it was a pretty f*ing big spider just the same. I mean, as far as big spiders go, this one was not that big...but if it attacked me, say, it could have easily gotten ahold of and bitten into my big toe.
So what if I'm bad with spiders? So what if, when the maid came in after I'd scaled the wall, the first thing she saw was a tupperware container on the stairs, upside down, with four cans of tuna fish stacked on top so the wily creature couldn't escape to find its way onto my face in the middle of the night? So what if I was going to leave it trapped there all day until the night watchman came back and took care of it? SO WHAT, PEOPLE? WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE I'M CRAZY?

Gringa Faux Pas Part 2

I take the dog on a walk in the mornings, usually after the night watchman has left for the day. I lock the gate in the wall around the house, and usually carry the keys, the leash and my ipod with me on the walk. This morning, however, I decide that I could hide the keys somewhere so I don't have to carry them. I could hide them...on a ledge inside the gate. So I reach up, put the keys on the ledge and try to move them back so they're harder to see. Farther...farther...until they fall down the other side where I can't get them.
The night watchman has a key, but he's gone.
The pool guy, who's coming in about two hours, doesn't have a key.
I am supposed to meet someone for breakfast in two hours.
I don't have the truck key, my phone, any water, or enough sunblock.
I do have the dog, his leash, and my ipod.
I go for a walk (why not, after all?)
I come back and walk all the way around the wall surrounding the house.
I find a spot where I can -- albeit awkwardly -- climb over.
I climb over.
I am opening the gate from the inside -- covered in dirt, leaves and probably bugs -- when the maid walks up...a day early and five minutes too late.

Gringa Faux Pas Part 1

I go into a store to buy "saldo" (minutes) to recharge my cell phone, and it turns out they can do it immediately online by simply entering your phone number and the amount you've added. All you need is your phone number...which I don't have and can't find in my phone. After about 5 minutes of holding up the line, the guy behind the counter takes my phone and calls his phone to find out my number for me.
Oops. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Relationship with Me

The moonlight is bright outside, illuminating the waves as they beat against the shore. There are birds calling from the water’s edge, and I imagine they are feasting on their kinsman with a broken wing that the dog wouldn’t stop bothering on the walk today. I should be disturbed by this, but I am too busy feeling the breeze’s fingers through my hair, still damp from my afternoon dunking. My ears are full of so many sounds I cannot yet discern – I think I hear frogs, now and then a gecko, once in a great while a Mexican song, whistled or sung. I am here to heal, and these sounds will become a mother’s hum to me, rocking me to sleep.
I am here to heal, but I am fighting disappointment in myself that I need it at this point. I have had a year of complete bliss – of living on an island in the Puget Sound, followed by time far up a river valley, with only the mountains and the fresh pine air, followed by this: the beginning of three months next to a beach in Mexico. I am not coming off of a drug addiction, out of a bad relationship, away from a death in the family. I am not alone and drifting without direction, regardless of what it may look like to some. In many ways, I have gotten to know myself more in this past year than I ever thought possible – gotten to know what I need to be happy and begun to strive for it. Yet, despite all this, I am still here with open wounds.
In the past few months, I have been working too much with the idea that I could rest in Mexico. I have forgone sleep, healthy meals, time alone and exercise with the idea that I will get to do all or nothing that I desire in Mexico. The problem is that this is a recurring theme for me: work too hard with the idea that it will all be over soon. If it will all be over soon, there is no need to spare myself, my heart, my body, my sanity, because one day soon I will have the time for all of it.
But that’s not what I want. I don’t want to live for the times I get to escape – the times that I pick up my bags and leave my worries behind. I want to own my worries and take them with me – to appreciate and pack them along with my favorite books. I want my worries to be things that make me excited to get up in the morning, not something I am looking forward to leaving.
I want to be able to maintain something constant and healthy. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and wish for my responsibilities – to be able to leave them alone or scoop them up like sand dollars and take them with me to the beach. I want something that I think is falling farther and farther away in American society: the kind of serenity in my everyday life that most people only find on vacation.
Am I crazy? Of course I am. Is it possible? Of course it is. I’m not sure – I’m new at this, remember – but I think the secret is to work on your relationship with yourself like you would with anyone else. People who have been in long marriages, relationships or friendships for that matter always talk about finding the time to be together – reserving time for the two of you to remember why it is you like each other and why you’re important to one another’s lives. This doesn’t have to be as touchy-feely as it sounds: a nice dinner out, a barbecue, a ski date, a movie night with take-out. Enjoying the things you love to do together, together. Why shouldn’t you have to do the same for yourself?
However, I think I may need more time than most. A friend told me once that I probably didn’t really need human interaction more than once a week. This might insult some people; I was relieved that someone finally got it.
Between leaving Chelan and getting here via Mexico City, I heard it many, many times. “Just one person?” “Only one ticket?” “Are you here alone?” “Many people wouldn’t do this alone.” “I admire people who can travel alone.”
The thing is…I don’t get lonely. I enjoy my time by myself. I don’t feel alone…when I’m alone. Which is perhaps why I feel that I have been missing my time with myself – because there have been too many distractions, people, places, things -- and I haven’t been able to enjoy my time with me.
So here I am. Like any good relationship, you can’t fix it once and expect it to stay fixed just because you said so. I feel like I should have discovered this about myself already, but there are some things that you must continue to practice, even after the lesson has been learned. I will continue to spend time with me, heal the rift that has grown between myself and who I am, and spend some time – much needed time – on my relationship with me.