Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dearest Isabelle,

Leaving you off at the bus stop was hard enough. And I'm certain you noticed, I didn't cry. I'm certain you wondered why. Why you couldn't stop crying, and why I didn't even shed a tear. And I had wondered why as well. Though as I sit here, writing this letter to you, I simply can't hold the tears back, because as I came home after dropping you off, I came home to the absence of your grimy running shoes at the foot of the door, your frilly outfits hanging in the closet, and your makeup scattered all over the bathroom counter. 

And I cried.

I cried for the absence of you. Thinking that you would walk through the door any minute, telling me about your day at work and all the wonderful things you learned. Cried for the time we'd spent and the time we won't spend now. Remembering me teaching you how to dance to salsa in the kitchen, you teaching me how to make a perfect pasta and everything else in between. And I know those last days we spent together you caught me staring at you. Staring at you because I wanted to remember every little freckle and hair on you. 

The truth is, I never thought I would need to remember, because selfishly I thought you'd be here always. As a permanent memory of sorts.

Truth is I never wanted you to leave in the first place, I would have been happy with you by my side always. With the grimy shoes and the makeup scattered across the bathroom counter. So I'm unsure why I'm even writing this letter. Because your halfway across the world already. And I know there's no bringing you back or turning back time. But I just wanted to let you know that I'm sorry, I'm sorry I cried after you left, and not when I should have, I'm sorry I thought you would be there always, and I'm sorry I didn't ask you to stay. And in case you didn't know already, I love you. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 104: The Last Dance

 May 15, 2011

Yesterday was my last FULL day in San Cristobal, today my bus will leave heading towards Tijuana at exactly 1 pm...Well 1 pm Mexican time, which could mean at 2 pm...Maybe even 3. Yesterday morning I had woken up with the worst migraine in the world, and as I stumbled out of bed and stumbled on over to try and look for pills unnoticed, I'm greeted cheerily by Yolanda and Pancho, as I hide my "morning face" I grumble that I have a headache, Yolanda say it's the heat, while Pancho tries to take pictures of me with his phone, but I'm certain it's because today is my last day here in San Cristobal. I'm certain that in some particularly odd way my body understands I'm going home and if I were crazy enough I would even say this is a sign, a sign from the earth, from my body, or from the tiny little  nerves in my brain telling me I should stay, I shouldn't go home. But instead I fumble around with a box that I believe is some form of Aspirin (but I'm unsure because it's all in Spanish) and take two with a glass of water. After taking the two anonymous pills I begin packing, begin getting rid of things I don't need, of things I probably do.

Around mid-day as I'm sitting on my bed, painting, Pancho and Yolanda invite me over to lunch. Yolanda has prepared my favorite; fried fish, guacamole, Spanish rice, and those delicious little black corn tortillas I love too much.  It's only three of us. The three originals, I think. The two I have gotten closest to over this three month long hiatus. The two who know me the most here. (Well beside Javo.) And as we sit there eating and laughing and talking about things that are of no importance, I get this feeling in my throat, and Yolanda would said it's a fish bone, but I'm certain I am about to cry, yet I hold back the tears anyway. And the day continues on...

After we've finished eating, we all share in helping cleaning up, and I finish up both my packing and my painting and what seems like an hour later, I am sitting around the table, with most of my closest friends and some who I've only met this week, eating yet again and talking about nothing and everything. A "despedida" they say; a going away dinner. Javier, a Spanish guy who I'd only met a week and a half ago is making me "hash" these delicious little potato slices with cheese and who knows what else, while Sergio, a guy I'd met only two days ago is making me delicious pasta. I sit around the table, and get that feeling, that fish bone in my throat kind of feeling. But still, I hold back, and pretend I'm strong.

After dinner, I am pulled out on the dance floor with Yolanda, Virginia (a lovely Chicagoan who I have had the pleasure of knowing for this past month) Pancho, Manuel (my chistoso) and Javier. I had spent many days out there, in that plaza (mostly Thursdays and Saturdays) across from the Posada dancing marimba with both new and old friends. And there I was, for the last time. The music began to take me away, and I drift off into memories I really would like to keep until another time. To look back on when it rains. And finally after much resistance, a small tear rolled down my cheek as Javier spun me. I wiped it away as if it were an eyelash on my cheek, a bug pestering me. And we continued to laugh too loudly and dance terribly.

 Stupidly I begun crying when I had asked Manuel  where Javo had been. Javo was a friend of Pancho's, who quickly became my best friend (in Chiapas.) I had told him on Wednesday that Sunday would be my last day here in Chiapas, and he had to come over on the weekend so we could dance the night away one last time. He'd agreed, and I'd expected to see him Friday, or Saturday even. But here we were hitting early Sunday morning and I had yet to see him. Manuel had spilled the beans, he had told me Javo hadn't come intentionally, because he hated goodbyes.  And there I was, in all my glory, in front of all my friends, bawling my eyes out. Not just for Javo who made the bad days seem brighter, but for Pancho, who taught me how to salsa dance, Yolanda, who taught me how to make rice and a really good cup of coffee, for Manuel who taught me how to laugh, and I mean how to really laugh, for Tom who helped me with my bad Spanish, for Virginia and Kelsi who bring me chocolate and remind me of home, for Bernaldo, "mein Schatz" who would let me talk his ear off for hours as long as I kept the coffee coming, for Clara and Aldo and Rita and Team Tigre and to all those who already left, and those who I will probably never see again, but still like to pretend that one day I will. The tears came down like rain, and at the moment, I could have cared less who saw me.

So here's to the last dance, to those who made it all worth while, to leaving behind and one day coming back to them, to sticking it out when things got rough, to living it up and taking chances.

To going home. 

 To one dream down...and many more to go.