Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A few nights in Tuxtla

     I'd been standing in the middle of my third class. Second to my last. With this slapped in the face kind of feeling. This paralyzing feeling.  I had thought about San Cristobal, and how after these last two classes I wouldn't be greeted by familiar faces as I walked home, I wouldn't take off my shoes, let down my hair and flop onto my bed. I wouldn't see Poncho's goofy smile greeting me at the front desk, or Yoli’s mischievous smirk sipping cafe con leche in the kitchen. This sudden fear ran through me like a bolt of energy. A bolt of realization. I had left San Cristóbal. I had left home. And though it was only for three days I had felt this rush of change in me. This change I still am unable to recognize. 

    The call had come early morning Wednesday, I had already cleaned the hostel, checked people in and out, eaten breakfast and I was now lounging in bed reading Isabelle Allende's Of Love and Shadows. “Nicooo, telephonooo” Yoli yelled out putting much emphasis on the O’s. I'd hopped up out of bed hoping it was some long lost ex telling me he simply couldn't go on without me. It wasn't. It had been a friend of mine who needed as substitute for her class for two days in Tuxtla. Tuxtla is the capital of Chiapas and only an hour and some minutes away from San Cristobal. The problem? I had a class at 12 pm in San Cristobal that day that would end promptly at 1:30. But I'd said yes anyways. I'd needed this. A short get-away from San Cristobal and everyone in it. I know, I know that sounds terrible…but I'd gotten cabin fever and simply wanted out. So I'd jumped at the chance, and after my 12 o clock class I'd power walked home, packed up the essentials, said my goodbyes and headed off to the bus station. It was  2 o clock, the bus would depart at 2:30. The walk between my house and the bus station was approximately 30 minutes. I was testing time, and because I am both stubborn and cheap…I would not succumb to taking a taxi. Luckily I had made it, with time to spare to buy a bottle of water. I'd soon boarded my bus and was on my way to Tuxtla. It had not even phased me yet. This morning I would have never of thought I'd be here, on a bus, leaving all that is familiar to me. I guess that's life, when you take it one day at a time. With no plans or collection of "to do" lists.

I arrived in Tuxtla at 3:40 exactly. My first class started at 4. I had twenty minutes to get to where I needed to be, read the lesson plan and teach my heart out. And, everything went smoothly….yeah right! I'm no superwoman! I hadn't written down the address of the school, seeing as though I had been in such a rush to get all my things together and go…I didn't have Internet access to get the address and my Spanish was limited. So I'd succumb to flagging down a taxi, telling him to take me to an Internet café so I could retrieve the address. This was simply wasting more time, and I'm sure the taxi cab driver was taking the long way so I would have to pay him more, I can not be certain. Though after I'd retrieved the address, we were off! The taxi cab driver said he knew the place and would take me there immediately! It was now 3:55. The trip to the actual school took longer than expected, there were stop lights and traffic and a little old lady who decided she would walk in the middle of the street for no apparent reason. We'd arrived at 4:10. I was late, and upset that the taxi driver charged me 75 pesos just for the ride, in US this is only 6 dollars and some change, but still, I was cheap. And could have used that money for hundreds of things. I had entered the school wearing a charcoal colored tube top, a cardigan to cover any excess skin, torn up jeans, flip flops and my hair all swept up in a clip. With two bags stuffed full of my life slung over my shoulders I'd asked a tall, light skinned man with ash colored hair “Are you in charge?” not even thinking twice about whether I should speak English or Spanish to him. His eyes met mine. “Yes, I am can I help you?” and from there on we had fallen in love…wait, no wrong story. He'd really told me that my class had been covered and my next class started at 5, meaning I had time to dump my things off in the house I was staying in and freshen up. The friend that I had been subbing for left me full access to her “bachelorette pad” as I like to call it. The place was both simple and incredible.  There were stairs leading up to the roof, with the most incredible view of the city, the room was stocked with canvas and books galore. The books alone were enough to keep me entertained. I had gotten more excited about all the books she'd had than the breath taking view.  But at that moment, I had to focus, I still needed to go over the lesson plans and clean myself up, make myself look more “teachery.”

The clock struck five. And I had assumed that someone would be supervising the class while I taught, or at least stay in with me for the first five minutes. I was wrong. I'd been shoved into a classroom with 10 greasy faced children with only a “They’re all yours” and a pat on the back. There I’d stood, with my lesson plans in hand, and a frightened expression on my face, the children had been gleaming up at their teacher in awe. And me,with no time to waste, I had no choice but to jump right in! The plans set out for the day were to cover feelings. So I proceeded to write on the board in big  black bold letters

                                                                        I FEEL…
 And proceeded as directed on my lesson plans. And it wasn't until I was three classes into it, when I had gotten that feeling. That "why am I here and not in San Cristobal?" kind of feeling. Tuxtla reminded me most of Los Angeles. The life was  fast paced, people on the streets were in a rush to get to work, to home or to wherever it was they were going, that they hadn't taken the time to enjoy the beauty around them or the sky scrapers towering above them. Tuxtla treated me well. The food was good and the pay even better. After 2 nights and 3 days in Tuxtla, I'd returned to San Cristobal. Returned home. With a handsome amount of money in my pocket, and a dozen mosquito bites scattered throughout my body. Tuxtla is infamous for sucking people in, I'm told. This is why upon my arrival my boss had nervously asked if I had been planning on moving out to Tuxtla "Yes" I'd told him in an overly dramatic voice "I simply must go!" He'd caught onto my sarcasm.

San Cristobal holds my heart. All of it. Tuxtla and all of it's money could never drag me away. Though I admit, there are days where am I rushing rapidly through the streets of San Cristobal, late for work or a meeting with a friend, not taking the time to realize the beauty surrounding me and then, there I bump into someone with their head to sky watching the clouds pass by and I remember to slow down.

And that same feeling, that paralyzing feeling comes over me when I realize that soon I'll have to leave San Cristobal for good, not simply for a substitute job in Tuxtla or a few nights in Palenque. I'll be leaving to go home. And though I am unsure of when exactly I will be leaving, this paralyzing feeling still lingers near, reminding me reality awaits.

Traveling Tip # 3: Always take time to stop and look at the clouds. No matter how late you are. 


Friday, March 25, 2011

The emptiness between us.

This is an apology letter to the both of us. For how long it took me to let things go, it was not my intention to make such a production of the emptiness between us, it's just that I could have sworn that you sung me a love song back there... and I could have sworn that you meant it. But I guess that some people just chew with their mouth open. So I eat earplugs alive with my throat hoping they'll get loged in the empty spots, so I wouldn't have to hear you leaving...Wakefield.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The fall.

He'd told her. He'd finally told her. 
"I am falling in love with you. And I wish I could find time, more time for you, stuffed in my backpack or underneath the grit of my fingernails, like the change I find in my pockets.

I can't keep pretending. Acting like this feeling is non existent. It's been howling out at me for much too long now. I've tried to play cool. To keep calm and brush it off.

And then. Those eyes." He'd said "It's those eyes that have brought me here, those eyes that tell me stories for days, those eyes that both mend and break my heart all at once.

And I'm standing here now, like a fool with my heart strewn out across the floor before you. Because I don't want to go another day. Another minute, knowing that you're not mine to keep, knowing that I'm keeping this truth from you."


Saturday, March 5, 2011

2786.61 miles

 2786.61 miles; still I look for you in a crowded room

2786.61 miles; still I see you pass on a bus

2786.61 miles; still your scent lingers in the air

2786.61 miles; still I hear your laugh

2786.61 miles between the two

2786.61 reasons it could never be you