Travelling makes me think of dying. Granted, an oddly-shaped potato can make me think of dying, but travelling does it to me especially. And I do so with morbid hunger, rolling delicious thoughts of death in my head and storing them away for a time when I feel depleted of the ability to feel anything of substance or meaning. I think I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing.
I think of dying and I wonder if and when the big revelations will come. All of the chunks of travel that would feel like tumbled stones if I could hold them, carried in my pockets like clues as to who I am (everything is a clue to the eternal detective). They are won with each swollen toe from long plane rides, every coin in foreign currency, every road sign in another language. I know a little more of me, and the bigger tokens come when I feel closer to knowing whatever my purpose might be; I'm aware that the last great parting gift I won't be able to get my hands on is the answer to why I'm here at all and how I arrived and where I'll go when this whole trip is over.
I had two days to prepare to go to Mexico City. I bought a new suitcase and shoes and pre-ripped jeans and kleenex. I pretended I was used to being escorted to the airport by a car service and I saw a small Remembrance Day ceremony after buying a lock for my luggage but before I paid to replace the earphones I left at home. The day was cloudless and I drank my coffee.
An observant man located me and two of the three other actors and up into the sky we went. I tasked myself with identifying elements of Cormac McCarthy's writing style in the vain hope of replicating it, having little patience for flowery descriptives in narratives but wanting to attempt a narrative all the same (how am I doing?) I listened to Tom Petty and read and sat patiently before the questions about my trip while they tumbled and settled and presented themselves for my judgement. We glided down in Dallas, found our fifth Beatle, and laid sky tracks for Mexico.
It all seems full to me now. In that magical way time has, moments went from hollow uncertainty to the knowledge now that I am changed for how those moments were fated. It all seems full.
The hollow uncertainty of a boutique hotel that was dark upon our arrival and knowing we were chosen few but didn't know what was expected of us, not really. But in a day I will have found a rhythm for placing a towel by the errant shower door to keep the floor dry and will remember which drawer I'd stored my ripped jeans in.
The bizarre sort of dis/connect I feel when I'm on another piece of the planet without having had to move my body much myself. That I'm suddenly walking down a street that could be in my city but for the taco stand and 7-11 full of goods that are mysteries to me and candle vigils on the street's median whose purpose I didn't understand at the time, but I wonder now if it was for the poor souls of those disappeared students. I feel it all the first morning there on an adventure with a new friend to the National Museum of Anthropology, all receptacles for the hearts of human sacrifices and a statue of a snake goddess that gave birth to the being that would annihilate her; skulls and suns and the universe laid in stone, carved by people like me that needed to believe in their importance beyond their impermanence, and also that there is a message we are not receiving but is there like a map to our origin. These were people who practiced death; who distributed it and found meaning and purpose in it. That comforted me.
Actorly and directorly and costumely things happened later that day. Something stops me from talking about that portion of things, even though that's the reason I was there at all. Maybe I can't talk about it without feeling pretentious. Maybe I don't want to talk about it because I like to keep that part of the trip in a sacred little bubble that remains treasured for how I came to feel close to a few, for the childlike way I didn't want to let them go only hours after meeting them. I'm too goddamn sentimental. And it all bled into the next day when we actually got to work; it was long and it was precious to me. And I love that I know that most of the people there would laugh about how it was precious to me. They would laugh and so would I for my simpleness, but I can't feel any other way about it.
I had a blessed day to tour the city, and thanks to my new friends I saw and understood parts of it that I never would have had I been on my own. On my own, I may have circled my hotel block, felt intimidated by how I couldn't order off the menu in the cafe down the street, made do with some ichiban from the 7-11. But my friends were my shield and my password and my experience subway tokens, and I can't believe my fortune in finding them. I doubt sometimes, but I found a cathedral that had no room for it; it diminished uncertainty before the evidence of hours and hours and hours of people who were sure about something. I learned some Mexican Spanish slang (outside of the church, come on), and I repeated it at loud, appropriately-timed intervals to my Mexican friend, and he still never left the side of this socially inept foreigner.
I had an impromptu salsa lesson and I hugged and heard and held people whose smiles and faces warmed me and I wondered if I would see them again. I shortened that thought because it made me sad and I didn't want that then.
The next day I joined new friends yet again for breakfast, we were whisked away for the last time, and I shook my fists violently and clenched my teeth and my face kept spouting the words of sentimentality and preciousness and sheer luck and gratitude. Our first flight was delayed enough that we pumped our weary little legs for the connecting gate to the plane to take us home. We barely made the closing doors, and I landed in a place whose temperature had dropped while I was away, both actually and relative to the Mexican warmth.
I have a porcelain skull and Mexican chocolate and coffee and pictures that my incredibly thoughtful friend took with my phone. I have another experience that I get to think about, however consciously, if I get a deathbed. I have songs and smells that have new meaning for me now, and my boundless little heart has the memory of more smiles locked inside of it. Maybe my interpretation of all of this seems terribly morbid to some, but I really don't intend it that way; I've just got new memories that were created of the stuff that can't be destroyed when my body is, and that'll hopefully go with my little soul nugget onto the next plane.