So, I could just pass over the fact that I’ve not written in a while as if January were water and I the metaphorical bridge, but to say nothing about The Month That Both Kicked My Ass and Blew My Mind? That would mean I’m some kind of phony fair weather blogger who wants the world to believe she’s got it all together, and frankly, that’s a load of unicorn shit. The very least I can do is offer you a list of excuses as to why I’ve not been writing. After all, I might as well play a good hand while I’m holding.
Primary Excuse (for having neglected my blog for the better part of a month). Written about a week ago.
I am sitting upright today. I’ve even managed to leave my bed for more than a periodic fever dream-induced psychedelic journey to the toilet. Following days upon days of some (unofficially diagnosed) exotic highland jungle bird flu that so generously embraced each member of my family before flying me on areal tour of the valley of death, “upright” is definite and welcome progress.
Happy new year? Probably — I am generally optimistic — though so far, life’s taken one look at my pretty little resolutions and brand-spanking-new year intentions and snickered at my naivete, “Oh no you don’t, young lady. Productivity and a centered mind? That’s asking way too much. Now go get back in bed.” Then it sent an exotic bird flu to make sure I stayed put.
So now somehow it’s February, I’m back on my feet, the house has been scoured (again) and I’m ready to make some headway, for real – to play catch up on all the things that fall to the wayside when you’re The Mom and Your People get The Flu. And then what happens last night? Estella comes home from a friend’s house looking like she’d been run over by a train, Taos returns from her school camping trip burning up with fever (see footnote #1) and Hunter is diagnosed with Salmonella – again (footnote #2).
What is the deal!? Why is it that despite my best intentions, there are days that turn into weeks that drag into months when accomplishing anything beyond keeping my family alive is downright laughable? (I mean, awake-cleaning-vomit-at-3am-for-the-fourth-time-that-night kind of laughable.) Is there some major life lesson I’m missing and thus being forced to repeat until I get it? Probably. Probably some hugely important one that requires a total surrender to infirmity and servitude in order to be fully realized. But I’m entirely too exhausted to reflect on life lessons right now, and if I did, my level of cynicism would shed light on parts of mind that I reserve for only my closest friends and family. So that’s that – The Great Berry Bird Flu, Winter, 2012. I’ll keep working on those life lessons.
We’ve had (and we currently have) downright covetable house guests. Have I mentioned that our family loves house guests (particularly those who also happen to be amazing people)? There’s nothing quite like sharing space with good folks whose paths cross our own for a short, sweet moment (whether it be a night or a year). I believe we are a species designed to live in community and given the total lack thereof in modern (American) culture, house guests feel not only natural but totally refreshing.
So, our first guest of the year? A most amazing young woman named Sara who spent 10 days with us before resuming her two-year journey south to Brazil. Sara’s incredible and intentional life currently includes participation in a movement called Social Circus. In short, she’s traveling Latin America, meeting other talented and dynamic folks, hosting acroyoga and areal dance workshops (for mere pocket change), creating entire circus acts among marginalized youth in communities that have generally never even heard of such things, increasing social conscientiousness and documenting her travels through cartoon drawings on her blog. This girl showed up just when I needed her most, helped me release some unwanted baggage, and reintroduced me to my yoga mat (my refuge, my happy place). If any of you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, seriously…buy my friend a taco. She’s living on next to nothing spreading goodness all over the planet. I can’t think of money better spent.
And our equally incredible second and third house guests of the year? My 20 and 22-year-old cousins, who are living with us for the next three months!! Lexi and Chloe are the daughters of my mom’s brother, who has so generously (if reluctantly) allowed them to venture all the way down here for a taste of life abroad. What a total honor to get to watch them discover life and language anew. What a treat for my daughters to have such amazing young women as everyday roll models. What a treasured gift to be able to introduce mis primas, of all people to my beloved life in Mexico while swapping family stories and remembering our grandmother. My heart is so full I can hardly stand it.
I could stop there and I think I’d have met my excuse quota, but there’s more. Believe you me, the list goes on…
I have been charmed to the point of paralysis by the Maya. I’m beginning to think they’ve cast some some super fuerte 2012 spell over my mind that’s rendered me hopelessly hungry (figuratively speaking) and utterly unproductive (speaking quite literally). In fact, if one of my new year’s resolutions was increased presence (and it was), then I guess I should have clarified that I meant increased presence here – meaning wherever I am – not there eating tortillas and mesmerized by cook fires and round-faced babies.
The truth of it is that I’ve dipped my toes in the most exciting, complicated, soul-enlivening work I’ve ever experienced (aside from raising my own family, of course), and now I’m constantly Jonesing for another hit. I would spend all my time in the indigenous communities if I had nothing else to do, but my reality couldn’t be further from the truth. So I’ve found myself filled with discontent and longing like an estranged new lover, and I’m realizing that unless I want my family to kick me to the curb and allow me that inside indigenous perspective I (not so secretly) dream of, I’m going to have to get a grip, hold my horses and let this thing grow slowly. The Maya are not going anywhere, and somehow, they’ve managed to survive for this long without me.
I have a lot of kids over a large age range and multiple countries. There is no way (that I’ve yet figured) not to be constantly fractioned between their needs, wants, frustrations, elation, adorableness and drama. I also have an extremely extroverted, attention-loving husband with whom I share a work space. Need I say more? (In all fairness, this excuse is not January-specific, but considering its significance in every waking hour of my existence, I think I’m justified in counting it.)
A Bunch of Other Minor Excuses That Add Up to At Least One More Category
- Someone knocks or rings at our front door approximately once every hour. If it isn’t a friend who just happens to be passing by, it might be the guys who deliver our weekly drinking water, the garlic/peanut man who won’t take “no” for an answer because he knows just how much garlic we go through, the barefoot kids with two kilos of tomatoes for ten pesos and free toothy grins, the Jehovah’s Witnesses whose watchtowers are all over this town, the shy and dependable trash kid (footnote #3) who still blushes every time I answer the door, the occasional drunk guy with a story about being stranded away from his family and needing money to make it home to his village, a herd of little gringos hoping my girls are home to play, the upstairs neighbor (who shares our cistern) wondering if we, too, are out of water, or Jesus, who really needs a girlfriend but will settle for my company (footnote #4).
- There’s always something happening in the streets that’s more exciting than whatever’s happening on my computer screen. And it’s all pretty hard to ignore when announced by frequent fireworks, church bells and chanting processions.
- The school day seems impossibly short. I’m not sure why this is, exactly, but I do know that the likelihood of creative thought with wild children running through the house drops way below the likelihood of absolute domestic destruction due to me trying to squeeze in another work hour once they’re home.
- And last but not least, our U.S. phone line rings at least once a day with the heart-swelling promise of a loved one on the other end of the receiver. And when you don’t see your favorite people in the world but once or twice a year, you’d better believe we drop all semblance of work like a hot-handled skillet, make a mad dash for the phone like middle school girls, then guiltlessly justify the next hour or two of sweet, sweet soul food.
#1 – I wonder how old she’ll be before Taos recognizes just how cool it was that she went to a school that not only took camping trips, but at the base of ancient Maya ruins?
#2 – We are learning that Salmonella is heavily over-diagnosed here and often confused for its persistent single-celled imposter, the amoeba. This is of little relief, however, to its doubled-over victims offering prayers of “take me now” to the vengeful Montezuma.
#3 – Not all trash kids have proven so reliable. Some have been known to dump our garbage just out of sight around the corner and make off with our pesos. It’s never fun to see your undesirables strewn throughout the street and picked apart by skinny packs of street dogs.
#4 – Jesus is my Spanish tutor and the catalyst for daily hilarity. “Jesus is on the phone,” “Jesus is back in town” and “We need to find Jesus a girlfriend,” somehow never ever cease to be funny.