Banished Again (16)

Almost a third of my year is already over, and still I struggle with my chosen focus for this year’s blog. My friend Colleen once suggested I could stick with it for awhile and then abandon it at some point later in the year. “But I don’t want to abandon it,” I told her. My tone was cranky, miffed, defensive. I had made this choice, and there were endless possibilities to write about within it. There was no reason to give up on it. There was every reason to persevere. But in the time since our conversation, her suggestion whispers in my ear from time to time. It tries to seduce me. Stubborn creature that I am, I shush it. I turn my head away, present it with my back. I refuse to listen. And yet, when the whisper comes, when I feel the warm breath on my ear, it is a siren call. Today, I even counted on my fingers. If I stayed with Mexico for six months, when would half a year arrive? October? It wasn’t soon enough.

“But I don’t want to abandon it,” I say again out loud. There is no icky tone now, no crankiness, no bridling at a sibling’s suggestion. I really don’t want to abandon it, even as the idea of letting it go calls to me, full moon to high tide. But I am afraid. I was out of town, two short trips back to back, weeks lost to preparations, to journeys, to recovery. I am a week behind on my blog, me who wanted not to fall behind this year, not to spend time playing catch-up. But I know there is more than the ordinary resistance to writing behind my delay. I glimpse part of my problem–trying to write about all things Mexico is not only my fear of failure, of not doing it justice. I think fear lives in the fact it is so complex. It is not simple for me to think about Mexico. I can’t make broad, clear claims because it is all too layered, too complicated for that. My mind is always studying the complexity, weighing the distinctions, wondering about the reasons. I become overwhelmed. How do I capture the intricacies? I know in my heart I need to write about the specifics, not worry about whether or not the largeness of things seeps in. But my head worries about oversimplifying, about getting it wrong.

How do I write about the racism I felt there? Will my readers understand how tiny the percentage of people were who faced me with resentment, even hatred? How can I tackle something like that without talking about all the reasons their feelings are understandable, without comparing it to what people of color face every day in the United States? How do I take on something so big in one blog post? How do I explain my longing for life among Mexicans, for their natural grace, that warm and gracious generosity? Will my readers believe I think people in the United States can’t be as welcoming? Do I really want to try to dissect our stereotypes in 500 words? And what about the idea that most of what I know about the Mexican people comes from only one strata of society? People make claims all the time that are not true for all of Mexico. It is not one thing. It is not only Baja California Sur and Jalisco. The United States is not only Alaska and New Jersey.

Goldfinch on tube feeder with Mexican birds of paradise and tecoma blossoms

I sigh and take a sip of water, set the glass on the patio table beside me. I listen to the quiet sound of the misters, watch a goldfinch alight on the thistle feeder. “No,” I say, a laugh in my voice now, “The United States is not only Alaska and New Jersey.” I shake my head, a small smile on my face. I am satisfied in the aftermath of release, my fears banished again in the act of relinquishing them to the page, a second exorcism on this chosen path. Mexico is not only Baja California Sur and Jalisco, but I will write about them anyway. I will write what I know. I will write what I believe, what I think, what I wonder, and I will trust my readers with the rest.

7 thoughts on “Banished Again (16)

  1. Well, I am absolutely happy to be tagged! Thank you.

    But I will admit to being behind now on this. I have an award I haven’t taken the time to handle yet. Yours sounds like much more fun, though. :)

    Thank you again!

  2. I’m glad your not giving up on Mexico. We’ve enjoyed the scenes you have described and how you work it into your current life.

  3. Oh, good! Thanks for telling me that, Marylou. It helps to have that specific feedback.

    I will soldier on. Hee hee hee! ;-)

  4. Some pertinent questions there Riba. When we attempt to write about a place, and I am not even a writer – we try to talk about what we took away from it. In the end readers are only interested in YOUR perspective, Keep at it Riba, I want to know what you believe :-)

  5. Thank you, Madhu. I appreciate the specificity of your comment here—about how we try to talk about what we took away from it—and it’s interesting because I have never once questioned your “take” on a place, have only enjoyed hearing about your experience. (And, of course, soaking up your splendid images!)

    So, I will continue to work on trust. And thanks, too, for saying you want to know what I believe. :)

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