It was a long and sometimes taxing trip. I traveled with two of my colleagues, and never really felt like I was alone, which was a good thing from a safety perspective but a draining thing for an introvert. I was frequently anxious and exhausted, worried about getting sick, and we didn’t eat much or well during the day. In the evenings, we fell on our dinners like ravenous beasts and as a result, my dreams were tangled and troubling.
The first leg of our journey was scrub desert, with hills rising beyond the stucco and graffiti and fences. It seemed like everywhere was cement, and the tired light of sunset. People hiked across empty lots and a dog sat on a roof and watched traffic. Our hotel was quite fancy by most standards, but smelled of sewage and there were warnings not to leave your clothes on the floor of your room, because scorpions might nestle there. I rode in the back seats of cars crammed with my colleagues, the roads bumpy and the air conditioning insufficient, and felt carsick and displaced.
Mexico City was entirely different. We were fetched by a kindly driver in a bulletproof SUV and shuttled to an area of winding streets canopied thickly with green. It could have been Melbourne, in some places; in other places, Atlanta. Wrought iron and old architecture and runners and bikers and dogs; restaurants with entirely open fronts and groups of young people drinking and talking and smoking in the evening light, everything shaded with heavy drooping branches and vines. Our hotel was a splendor of purple and orange stucco, packed with beautiful women in teetering heels and men with baleful eyes.
At the airport in Mexico City, I rode a shuttle bus, and thought, ‘this is something I may remember for the rest of my life’; the way the hot glass felt against my arm, the sun-blasted tarmac, the signs emblazoned with “Mexico Benito Juarez” on the buildings in the distance. The women in the airport shops watched me idly and with disdain as I picked out trinkets for Miss L and Jax and his kids. I tried to speak Spanish when I could, but panicked when they answered back with incomprehensible, lightning speed. I tried, but quickly realized that I was just making up words and they rolled their eyes and gave me samples of eye cream and perfume. I watched movies on the flight home (“The Force Awakens” which I hadn’t seen yet but was extremely pleased with) and read books. I landed in Detroit and felt immensely glad to be in my rainy, sad spring city, as beautiful as any other to me.