Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catching water

There is so much that I'll never be able to articulate about my time in Mexico. My work is done: I wrote in my journal nonstop. It was such a relief to have no screens about me (well, everyone else brought their computers, but I don't count that) - no computer in my face 24/7, no TV, nothing to get glued to and slump down in front of. It was the first time I didn't miss much - though I love my friends, I didn't feel particularly needy for them. I also didn't feel that torn up about leaving. It's like I suddenly had a two-week, live lesson in nonattachment and being completely present. Maybe that's what happens when you take five showers in fourteen days, when you learn firsthand the exact mechanisms of a toilet (I had no idea you just dump water into the bowl and it goes down - Rebecca clued me in), when you are in the back of a muddy pickup truck nearly crying from happy freedom and the wind whipping your eyes.

I am bummed that I didn't make paper from prickly pear (I started to cook it over a wood fire that I couldn't keep lit, and smoked out the entire living room) or cattail (I found out too late into the residency that it was in the vicinity...though it had shown up in my research, I hadn't gone far enough to find it). I want to turn around and do it again. I want to turn around and have breakfasts of papaya, guava, mango, and prickly pear (both green and red). I want to learn Spanish properly and return with a degree more of independence.

I miss getting winded while hiking up to get spectacular mountain views and seeing blue (tequilla), green, yellow farmlands at 7,000 feet. Being hugged by mountains all around and insane amounts of vegetation from being in volcanic land was incredible. Natural abundance, but still heavy poverty. Termites all over the house, crumbling walls, mold everywhere, but then these incredible meals with tortillas delivered daily by the guy in the truck w/speakers strapped to the roof, fresh salsa, and local food from the market in Maravatio. We even had guest chefs who made corn dumplings in a bean soup and quesadillas with squash flowers and chiles.

There is something wonderful and freeing about being with people and just looking your ratty self - the one that rolls out of bed, the one that rolls into bed, the one that wears the same clothes day after day, the one with bad hair from lack of showers and hard water, the one who just pieces together a life from moment to moment. There is something about living with strangers that makes it impossible for you to really pretend to be anyone but yourself. There is something about sharing, conserving, and being without basic resources that strips you down and lays you open. But it's okay, because everyone else is laid open, too. And so we decide that instead of watching TV, we'll set up blankets and chairs outside at night to watch the lightning show and the clouds swallowing up the stars.

By day three, I was already hugging my fellow artists.


polarchip said...

Sounds SO AMAZING!!! I wish it could have been a longer residency, but maybe things all worked out for the best (sounds like it!). Will they let you go back for a repeat? Do you need an assistant?!?!? (ME!)

aimee said...

mmm, next time will be much smaller - less artists. probably longer, but in a different season. like, march 2009 (it will be an every other year thing for now). you should just go as your own artist!!!

TK said...

Sounds wonderful. I'm glad you've gotten to experience the wild a little bit more. I hope you are adjusting to city life better than I did.

Anonymous said...

It's good, good, good to step out of your world occasionally. I used to go wilderness camping for a couple of weeks every year, in Shenandoah or the Smokies, and I miss it palpably. And there, I didn't have the benefit of a ready-made community. This sounds like your richest experience yet; I'm happy for you.