Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Meeting across the river

Oh blog, we are truly friends. I know this because I’ve been treating you badly in the same way that I treat other friends badly now and then. For one reason or another, time puts a little distance between us. You are always somewhere upon the desk of my mind, but you’re buried beneath stacks of nonsense labeled URGENT. And the more I avoid you, the more I avoid you. I begin to wonder, what will I say after all this time? My wonderful memories of you are blurred by my own guilt! You become obscured by the silly smog I create by overthinking! Did you know our relationship was undergoing such a climate change? Probably not. I tend to compose these stories in the privacy of my own head. It takes saying them aloud to set them free. And once they’ve trotted off into the wild, you and I can resume the relationship that BOTH of us take part in. Oh blog, will you take me back?
Blog, I’ve been itching for an adventure. It all began a few weeks ago with a trip to Mexico. I know, blog, that should have been adventure enough! But it wasn’t, it was just a little taste. It was long sleepy days next to a pool with piña coladas and the smell of sunscreen and it was nights in the back of a cab trying to string together the Spanish that I promise I could speak once upon a time! The Spanish was a sense memory trigger for the years I spent in South America.
I moved to Formosa, Argentina as a fifteen year old who had never studied Spanish. My host family plucked me from airport, drove me to their home, stuffed my face with milanesa and empanadas, and used the little English they knew to explain to me that the bidet in the bathroom was what “you wash your ass in.” I was tired all the time, but because I was learning all the time. I didn’t have to motivate myself to hunt down extracurriculars. I just had to sit with people and try to piece together what they were saying.
We let a stray dog with mange die in our garage. It took so long, we called her Miseria and left her chicken bones that she could barely chew. We threw rocks at the big round trees lining our block so that bats would scatter like fireworks from their nests inside. The power went out every summer night and we sat on the roof staring at the water tower. I learned how to tolerate dancing till 7am. I learned how to cuss people out in Spanish. I got a really tight pair of jeans. I had lice for a year!
I rode on the back of someone’s motorcycle next to El Rio Paraguayo with the full moon so bright it felt like we were being stagelit. I caught piranhas in that river! I sat at the hospital while my friend’s little body tried to thwart the bus that had run it over. When it couldn’t, I went to my friend’s funeral and felt queasy from its crudity. Her skin puffy, her knuckled clotted with blood, her mouth stuffed with cotton, the smell of formaldehyde unmasked by the bouquets that surrounded her.
I worked at a disco!
I started a pastry peddling business out of my kitchen!
I forged signatures for my host father’s gubernatorial campaign!
I was so little, how was I so brave?
I want to get on a plane to wherever and find that feisty little fifteen-year-old me. I want to ask her if she’ll be my tour guide.

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