Saturday, June 13, 2009

Uno Mes Mas en La Tierra de Maria

One more month in the land of Maria.

On July 13 – one month from today – we’ll head home. And oh my, I actually started tearing up when I wrote that. It’s a big deal for us. Nearly every day Chris tells me, “I just want to go home,” and nearly every day I feel the same way even when I’m unwilling to admit it outright. We try reminding each other that when we get home, we’ll have an unstable summer without a place of our own and then we’ll have to move halfway across the country to a new city. But at least it’s a new city in our own country. This year we’ve moved halfway across a foreign country three times. You’re only going to make us move once? And in our own land? Man, you’re going easy on us…

The fact that we want to go home doesn’t mean we haven’t had some great times here. I think we’re both actually a little amazed at just how great a time we’ve had, and how many things we’ve discovered about Mexico that we love and that we’ll carry home with us. No, I don’t mean the souvenirs, like the absurdly bulky molcajetes, metal lanterns, and Chivas blankets – though we are somehow managing to carry those home with us, too.

Rather, I’m thinking here of the gloriously festive fiestas we’ve not only observed but sometimes even been a part of, from the Day of the Dead to Holy Week. I’m thinking of the food, both the recipes I’ve learned to cook at home and all the crazy things I’ve tried out in the streets and markets and in homes where I’m served something I don’t recognize but am trying so hard to be polite I don’t ask what it is. I’m thinking of all the different landscapes that I could never adequately capture in a photograph, like the early-morning rainforests in Chiapas, the wall of mountains that ring Mexico City, and the blue-green tequila fields of Jalisco. I’m thinking of the language that I’ve learned this year, of how far I’ve coming in recognizing its regional dialects, its city-specific slang, my D.F. accent. I’m thinking of my greatest triumph this year: Making it to the faraway jungle ruins of Palenque all by myself and sitting on the top of a pyramid with a stupid grin on my face looking out from the mountain over the wet plains of Tabasco and thinking I’m here, I’m here, I’m really here!

I felt that feeling so much in our first several months. I went back and read my blog post after our first full month in Mexico – a big moment for me, the longest I’ve ever been outside the United States. Everything still felt so new, and I took it all in. The author Michael Pollan writes of the heightened senses a person has when he visits a foreign land for the first time – but it’s implied that those senses begin to fade, to return to normal, once your surroundings become familiar. I try to recover those heightened senses from time to time – they help a great deal with writing travelogues – but it gets harder and harder because, with one month left, this place has become so familiar to us. We are used to this place. We have become a part of it, and it a part of us.

And yet, for all that: It isn’t home. We are still strangers in a strange land. And home, dear reader, still lies on the other end of a plane ride one month from today.

1 comment:

From Michigan with Love said...

I want to hug you!!! You are always welcome here in Detroit this summer! (I'm getting the tickets Friday!!!)

*HUGS* to Chris too!