As I'm told, some of my dad's friends have commented, "your daughter is a good writer; she can't possibly get it from you." But in this blog you will inevitably come to know what a true artist of the word is, as my good friend Matt (who has provided this post) is a professional; writing is his craft. I hope he will permit me to lessen his post a bit with some pictures added by me (it seems wrong to offer photos where words have imagined for you; but I can't help myself). So, here is Matt:
And here is his post:
In a succession of moments, empirically stacked end-to-end in some recognizable form – oh, the span of a week, say – it’s difficult to summarize one’s experience in any effective way.
Great works of literature like Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” make this clear. The closer words come to some sort of understanding about one moment or another, the more the moment slides from the bounds of standard perception, its stitches coming unglued and its seeming solid shape dissipating.
It is in this spirit I humbly offer the following: balls, balls, balls, balls, balls*.
That is: when speaking of the slow, blissful haze of a week spent in the company of good friends with nothing to do but talk, eat and wander to our hearts’ content, perhaps it is best not to say, “we went here and then there, la la la” but rather offer a glimpse of the moment-to-moment experience in snatches of dialogue and bites of perception (almost) at random.
-- Sitting down in a decidedly un-harried market near Megan’s house, light falling into the space from a wall that is simply missing, teaching my BAG of smoothie to stand upright on a checkered tablecloth while munching simple - and magnificent - memelas (masa/tortilla, frijol, quesillo, red chile – minus asiento, the extra lard) in the cool afternoon.
-- Walking from the Reforma neighborhood into the Xochimilco neighborhood over the aqueduct after another big midday meal, holding leftover sticks from cajeta (essentially a light caramel) popsicles, bodies shifting back and forth along the ridiculously slim sidewalk. As Brian once pointed out, the mutability of the group is as it has always been; each person can talk to any one in the group at just about any given time, so during the trip I think all possible combinations of the five of us were achieved.
-- Ruining a breakfast, which is a metaphor for being one’s self, having fun and in doing so absolutely ruining an experience for people around you. It’s something this group is famous for… in fact, this may be its signature move. No matter the café, hillside, or village it falls into, we are always a bit like a noxious clown car exploding into a spot where the audience did not know it was an audience (but became aware of this fact rather quickly). In this particular case, we ruined an actual breakfast for a crowd of locals in an unnamed, makeshift restaurant that exists only on Sundays**, eating tamales and drinking a drink I’m certain to pine for, for years – champurrado, a thick and comforting beverage of rice, milk, sweet, and cacao – when a radio was suddenly turned on very near our table and quite loudly***. We understood the hint, though I’m not sure as a crowd we’ll ever respond to such a hint very well. P.S. We paid about $3 per person for this meal. And it was… DELICIOUS.
-- Humping the corner of a white, stucco wall directly across from my friend Tim, who was also humping the corner of a white, stucco wall. (Well, okay, in our defense, we were dancing. But will the perception of the historical record support this fact?) I started because he did but I can’t remember exactly what set him off. He does like to hump (ah, dance with) inanimate objects.
-- Leaning over an open basket of crickets to pinch some between my fingers and push them in my mouth. Hm… salty. Crispy. Full of protein. Turns out, I love them. Customs even let me keep them, so I have a bag of tiny insects, red with heat, lemon, garlic, in my kitchen. For some reason, though this makes me a meat-eater, it doesn’t set off my normal vegetarian alarms. I fed them to Brian on his first night -- he ate them but resented me for it later.
-- At night, dancing in a crew at a fiesta to the sounds of a boisterous clarinet band with what felt like an entire community dancing or watching (tall gringos, much less tall flamboyantly dancing gringos, and cute white girls are something of a curiosity here) outside of a church, it’s doors open, everyone expectant for the fireworks – which do come, and feature the first animated vagina I think any of us had ever seen.
Flaming vagina not pictured here.
-- Eating shrimp, flax crackers, flowers, tuna, cake with prickly pear jam, risotto and fresh herbs until quite full or fairly nearly dead… the sun setting, the pond quivering, a small boy dropping a trail of rocks beside our small table. Thank G-D Megan loves food, and carried us to a series of amazing restaurants all over Oaxaca: street food, sweets, market drinks, snacks, dishes with tomato foam or entire four-course meals prepared by Italian chefs at their homes (the meal mentioned above) – we did it all. It is good all of us are clear on one thing: eating well is one of life’s undeniable joys. And so: mole, tortillas, mezcal, and much of each.
-- “Heh, heh.” A well-timed laugh from Tim, who was being quite a good sport, considering the circumstances.
-- Puttering up to the edge of the world into a pond at Hierva el Agua, where minerals have done a thorough job of petrifying a waterfall and making a miniature cliff-side water resort. Gorgeous and baffling. With the entire place to ourselves, we swam in the cold water, begged the sun to come out, took a series of goofy photos before the rain came. This site is also the location of Brian’s first ever porno. (Distribution of video soon to come)
-- Sara taking the enormous steps at the Monte Alban ruins immediately outside of town in Oaxaca. In fact, Sara walked everywhere. Every day. No cane, no nothing. How is it possible that her surgery was only a couple of years ago??? WOOF!
-- Woof (in general). Megan says that in Mexico, dogs say ‘wow wow’ instead of ‘woof’ or even ‘bow wow’. So Americans walking around saying ‘wow’ at everything are essentially barking in amazement. We took this on and said ‘WOOF’ to express awe at every opportunity.
Of course, there is more, more, more but at this, I must cease. I must work in the morning and you, dear internet reader, must use your tired, ADD-addled eyes again at some point in the future. You’ll have to trust me as I say this doesn’t really even scratch the surface. If I were to generalize, this was the thread running through our trip: simple, impractical moments reminding us of our capacity for joy -- how simple they are, how little planning goes into them. And little fuss is kicked up in the simple machinations of living when you’re at rest in the arms of great friends with whom you feel absolutely comfortable. Now, heading back to the activities of our daily lives, it’s important we take that joy and comfort and shuffle it into what we do regularly -- a hard task, to be sure, but what is a juggler without all those balls. Ballsballsballsballs.
* Of course, for those of you paying attention at home, I speak of the unfortunate (possibly apocryphal creation of urban legend) gentleman whose case of Tourette’s Syndrome finds him repeating the word ‘balls’ loudly and repeatedly after hearing the word ‘balls.’ Quoth Tim, “His trigger word is ‘balls,’ and he knows it.”
** Did I mention that Megan is a magical tour guide who knows all of the secret things you want to know about a place highly unfamiliar to you? She loves walks down narrow, cobble streets with small fountains in courtyards, good graffiti, spots for rooftop drinks, interesting architecture and, yeah, it bears repeating: food.