Tuesday, June 09, 2009

coming

Five days in Mexico, living in a surreal sort of world with clean sheets and hot water, absolutely no bugs and nothing but swimming in the ocean and drinking cold beers.  And then it's over.  I don't think I would have noticed a year ago or even six months ago how luxurious it was but now, given how I am living now, I felt like every moment was a dream, where the buildings and roads and even the markets there far surpassed the place we now call home.

And on top of it I still had to figure out how I was getting back.  I stopped at the concierge on the day before I was supposed to leave and asked for help arranging bus travel.  He looks at me with a contained mirth we don't arrange bus travel from here he says as if buses were leprosy incarnate. Of course you don't, I say but perhaps you could call them anyways. And so he does and I learn I either leave at midnight all night or I take my chances in the morning with no real option for getting the rest of the way home.  So I contact my new stranger friend, the one who'd gotten me on the bus on the way here.  I'll pick you up he says, a journey that would take him five hours both ways.  We settle on a price that is unbelievably affordable and he says he'll meet me at the bus station in Southern Mexico. I just have to get myself there and so I do.  I arrive late and am worried he'll have decided I wasn't coming but there he is, a ragtag sort of guy with a quick smile.  You are late he says with a smile and grabs my bag.  I am so thankful you came and waited I respond and he says the truth I know but remember I gave you my word.

So we jump in his car and he tells me then that he has never done this leg of the trip before and I laugh because he made it sound so easy when I asked him for a ride.  I settle in realizing I am five hours in a car with a stranger who has just done me a really big favor.  There was just no way I wanted M to make this sort of trip and J couldn't come without her. I was nervous and now I can breathe.  

And what unfolded next was almost better than the week itself, almost hard to put into proper words.  This guy and I, we talked.  We talked in depth and length about history and culture and race and consciousness and religion and God and family and poetry and work and struggle and I felt I was sitting alongside some sort of jungle shaman professor who liked to drink too much on the weekends. It is no understatement to admit that I have not talked as long and hard with a stranger like this in my life.  And we laughed, at one point so hard I couldn't speak.  

He's a family man and an entrepreneur, his mind is as complex as I've met and he's hungry for more. If I brought up something he didn't know about he asked a million questions, turning it over in his mind. He's lived in a little town near our village his entire life, his family is all rooted here and this is the only place he's ever been but he's wiser than me by miles. Towards the end of our journey he looks at me.  I'm worried about you Jen, I am worried you aren't going to make it in our country because you will give up and if you give up our country will lose.  I tell him his country isn't easy, that it isn't easy but I knew that coming in.  He slams on the brakes now fuck woman, we spent hours talking and we've connected on all these levels and then you go and call it MY country?  This is OUR country dammit, you are here too and this place can now belong to you.  I thought we were getting somewhere in all this time and I started to laugh, I said that out of respect but he doesn't care. On this he's unmoveable.

We finally arrive home and I unfold myself from a car that signals the end of a 13 hour trip.  J and M come out and J shakes my new friend's hand and thanks him for his kindness and for getting me home safe.  He leaves with promises to get our families together one night so everyone can get to know each other and he drives off.  J looks at me and says so was that okay, that trip?  I saw that guy when I dropped you off and thought he was the janitor not the owner of the transport and I laughed not only was it okay but it was one of the best conversations of my entire life and I told him all about it and as I was falling asleep that night I thought again of appearances, of how things look on the surface and how easy it is to make assumptions and how when we do that we miss out on all the good stuff and how today was a day that I'll probably remember forever, a poet jungle warrior showed me his truth and I showed him mine and it was honest and real and a hell of a good time.  Because while we we have absolutely nothing in common and nothing we've experienced in our lives so far would lend to a common understanding we were very nearly exactly the same.

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18 comments:

Ms. H said...

I big-fat-puffy-heart LOVE how you write!!!! You paint amazing pictures with your words....and they make me want to go out and conquer something....anything....just so I can honor your words.

"I'm worried about you Jen, I am worried you aren't going to make it in our country because you will give up and if you give up our country will lose. " ....resonated with me, because it's similar to what folks at Uberschool have said when I've told them I'm thinking about leaving because I'm tired of the b.s.

Thanks for letting me "stalk" you...I am better for it.

:)

wheelsonthebus said...

just want you to know i am not commenting much but reading it all

Kim said...

WOW! I love this!

Woman, you are so brave! How I wish I had just a wee bit of your bravery, understanding and balls. Yes, that's right, balls. You have got some mighty big ones and I wish at times, I did too!

But tell me this, by you being there, does it mean that MY/your country has lost? Maybe you can "own" both?

Amber said...

It's amazing what we can find if we're open and let our guard down. I am so terribly cautious all the time, I find your story so amazing and inspiring because it opens my eyes to the possibilities that exist if I open my eyes.

de said...

jen, I am in awe of the experiences you continue to have, but one thing I keep thinking (since your last post at Blogher) is that you didn't have to go to the jungle to live it.

I wish you many blessings.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm not sure why, but this brought tears to my eyes. What a soul-restoring trip - on both ends. This guy is just one more sign that you are exactly where you should be. If you are patient, I have this huge feeling that you headed towards something great. Some day I'll see you on the news, shaking hands with someone or cutting a ribbon or getting handed some big check and I'll say hey! I kinda know that lady. :0)

Magpie said...

You slay me. This makes me kind of weepy, but in a good way. You, friend, are going to change the world.

Cold Spaghetti said...

Love that man. What a gift it is to give.

Bon said...

you are out there, being human. there isn't anything better.

Jill B said...

Thank You.

alejna said...

I am glad that you are home, safe. And thrilled that you are home. How wonderful of the man to recognize that you are not just a visitor.

flutter said...

your soul is just wide open.

hele said...

hope. this is what your mail gives me.

hope that all the theory on anti-neoliberal pedagogy and the agora and world work is happening real time somewhere without those involved having to write all the academic papers.

sister how i wish i could hop on a bus and be on your doorstep. i have so much conversation inside.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I met a guy like that when I was in Latvia. I mean, he wasn't like that, but he rocked my world in the same way. The guy I met was American but he had foresworn the typical American life; when I met him, he was returning from one year of travel that took him in a circle around the world. Hong Kong. Mongolia. Siberia. He'd lived for 3 months with a Russian actress who didn't speak a word of English. Anyway, what he said that shocked me the most was: You don't need money. You don't need to work for money. You need food, clothing and shelter, and often a person gets those things by working for money -- but that's not the only way... I was all, but you need health insurance! and he just looked at me with pity. So. That conversation totally changed the direction of my life.

Here's to strangers with wisdom!

Lisse said...

Again, you leave me open-mouthed in awe of your bravery. But it is only by taking chances that we have memorable experiences.

mamatulip said...

Wow, Jen. You are really living.

painted maypole said...

incredible.

Kyla said...

Is your life a movie? It should be someday.