Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bright lights, big city.


Let me paint you a picture.

I’m in Mexico City tonight, sitting on my 7th floor balcony of a hotel room that is much too big for me, possibly even bigger than the place I live in. The balcony itself could fit 40 of my friends fairly comfortably. Instead, it’s just me and the 13 potted trees, bushes and plants decorating this side of the wall. The moon is up once again after being full and bright white last night; somehow, we appear to have missed the rain all day and (so far) all night, so it’s back to shine. According to the calculations of some locals, that means it’s the first time in about three weeks that it hasn’t done so. I love a brief torrential downpour and the freshness that accompanies a good, hard rinse, don’t get me wrong, but I currently value a dry patio chair even more. Still, there are bolts behind the faraway clouds and just under the moon, creating some kind of silent fireworks display, flashing brilliant artwork in the sky every minute or so. It’s something to see, it really is. There are cars below, so many this side of midnight that, when combined with the odd invisible plane passing overhead, gives off the sound of being a fast-moving urban river, only this one comes with the honks of Volkswagens and roaring engines instead of singsong frogs and rapids. This is music. This trumps the jazz station left playing by the maid who turned down my bed earlier, the one who left me an as-yet-uneaten chocolate.

It is quiet. I’m at peace. I’m at rest and doing my own brand of meditating, the kind that comes by my typing words and looking up to view the flickering house lights and skyscrapers disappearing into the dark expanse like Missouri firebugs. I can hear the rhythm of the night and it’s rather insistent; it’s a soundtrack I prefer to most else, given the beauty of this long moment.

I’ve only been here since Tuesday—and it’s not the first time I’ve been here—but I feel like I’m seeing things brighter and clearer now than I have before. There are more colors, more readily understood Spanish words and definitely more tacos. I’m blinking less and staring more. Maybe I’m at a place now that I’m searching for some kind of meaning in the things I see and hear, be it in the sad woman who masked her begging for pesos by selling small packs of gum earlier or the photographer who lazily argued that organized religion forces its followers to do things they might not otherwise. Call it age or a state of mind I’ve arrived at, but I’m incredibly, incredibly thankful. Not just for the job that has consistently put me here, time and again, but for being able to recognize more than I did before. That spells growth to me. It feels tangible and real and right inside.

How about more pictures then?

I’ve had the chance to talk to several people, including one I’d met before, all amazing me with their overwhelming ability to hope and care and, well, succeed in what millions here might view as insurmountable circumstances. I left them quite accidentally invigorated, my eyes on my own dreams all over again. Watched all I could take in outside the passenger side window of an impossibly loud taxi—be it the many brightly-painted Café Tacuba murals on walls or shiftless mutt dogs or hills more filled with ramshackle, pieced-together dwellings and drying clothes hanging on lines than, say, the fantasy of open space—before falling deeply into a siesta, waking up to find I’d sunburned my arm as it rested on the bottom of an open window. Climbed to the top of two pyramids our driver said were built 500 years before Christ came to the earth and couldn’t help but be amazed by these massive structures that have truly defied old Father Time, much less witness anything still standing after 2,000 years. Pushed a broken taxi (lots of taxi experiences, no?) through morning rush hour traffic and watched a friend easily give up her car to allow him to continue forward with his planned trip. Ate something called “gringas” (like tacos, but so much better than the old standard) and fell in love immediately, fully confident I could eat them day and night if given the opportunity to do so. Visited a rooftop lounge that had booths that came with blankets, lest the chill of the nighttime air chill our bones a little too much. Watched a man serenade outdoor eaters simply because he enjoyed doing so, never once asking them to pay him for doing so. Slept soundly two nights in row, choosing the honking of cars below to wake up to over any kind of standard clock-alarm.

Ah, those’ll do for now. They’ll have to. They’re rich and worth remembering, but I have a moon demanding I give it my full attention. Lo siento, if you’ll excuse me.

6 comments:

The Vastbinders said...

OMG boy you need to write a book. You write so beautifully. :) I have a good friend that would love you. :) Interested?

frog said...

That's what I thought. The boy should write a travel book. Move over Peter Mayle. I've been to Mexico City just once and had one of the worst nights of my life. Next time I'm going with you. I was first pretty grouchy to discover you gone last night. But then.......... way to get good subs. Have fun. I love Mexico. Magic always happens there.

Sherpa said...

I love Mexico City. I'm having Mexico withdrawals and I'm jealous.

In my world, few foods surpass the authentic mexico city street taco. The avocado salsa? The King of all salsas.

Anonymous said...

This makes me like you even more. YOU are amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hey D thanks for putting the simplicity and complexity of MX city into words. Bravo amigo y well written. I am grateful that I was able to share a few of my city favorites with you...long live the gringa at Califa!! If you ever make it back again I would like to keep it real with the spirit of growth...sooo I'll let you drive Riosy! That could make for a great story, no?
Cuidate y besos
Mee chell

tanyamae said...

it is good to understand how you are seeing... so clearly.

life is good, no?