I Begin (1)

Dusk nears on the second day of my spring holiday, my first in ten years of teaching. I sit on the patio and move my pen across the page of my notebook to begin my first post for this new year of mine, 54 at 54–All Things Mexico. The task I have set for myself terrifies me, but I push the pen across the page anyway. My mind has been wandering paths as steep and twisting as the narrow callejones of Guanajuato, playing out possible topics for my blog, trying them out in my head. Why didn’t I document my time there, take vivid notes, photograph everything I loved? My fear about the course I have set for myself here makes the question come out harsh, anguished. Why didn’t I take pictures of the horses on the cobblestone streets in Ajijic? I would run to the balcony when I heard one passing by below. Why didn’t I record the sound their hooves made dancing on stone? I don’t have any pictures of the Wednesday market or the cemetery or the grackles roosting in the trees at twilight in the plaza. Why, I wonder, didn’t I photograph every doorway, every windowsill, every wall spilling bougainvillea on the street? Why didn’t I photograph every face I came to love, and all the textures and colors that layered themselves inside me, that have me missing Mexico like a river running through my California days?

white wall with window and bougainvillea

Why didn’t I take more photographs, learn more words, record the stories and the history and the rumors that came my way? Is it because I was not yet a writer in the same way I am today? In part, I know that’s true. And I didn’t know one day I’d want to write a blog about this big love of mine. I was busy taking it all in, absorbing the way it felt inside me, this foreign country where I found such sweetness, such welcome, yet where I was still so much “the other,” my white americana self a sore thumb, standing out amidst the dark hair, the dark skin of the other people in the villages. I think in my usual way I paid more attention to emotions and interactions, to the nuances of finding my way in a culture so different from the one I grew up in. I didn’t document the details, not outer or inner, only let them pile up inside me. Now I am afraid I have set myself an impossible task, but it’s one I want very much to meet. And so, as the light wanes on my California evening, I take a deep breath and reach for trust. I will find ways to write about what I love. I have already begun. A bird I don’t know in the pine tree repeats one long sliding note. I take another breath, the pen loose now between my fingers, and I know dusk settles in Mexico in just this way.