It is a pilgrimage of sorts.
A strange thing happens to the head when you’ve defined your life as “On the road” for three years straight and then followed it by a season of 413 days of staying still. The exact opposite of what i warily expected went down.I thought there would be this unspeakable drag to getting the cylinders running full speed ahead again. Instead everything was Octane! Diesel! Petrol! and every other power-packed automobile-oriented term you could come up with in a day.
When i had first arrived in SOBE, it was to be for a short time prior to returning to New Orleans via Mobile, Alabama, where my grandmother was born in 1916, and lived until she was 5 when her family moved up to Montgomery. THAT was the plan.
A Miami Beach year, two local artist residencies, four murals, three “published and now on Amazon.com” novels, 2 art shows & 300+ collages later, finally entering Mobile went down like a dream floating overhead. I felt my inner child running through the streets and flying through the clouds, and i have to say, maybe it is because I am the only one who even recalls her speaking of Mobile, it’s the first town i have entered where the “knowing” it was actually attached to the blood in my veins hit hard,generations having already traversed those streets. In New Orleans i’d gotten my nose opened to the first notes of such a thing , but Mobile was the real deal. I didnt have to Look for my heritage because i felt it bone-deep in the air, like arthritis flaring up with changes in the atmosphere, but in a sweet, love-filled way that i cherished.
Next was back into New Orleans. And in true nola-style, the spirit of that city almost made me postpone the rest of the pilgrimage due to the song my spirit broke out into as soon as i crossed that long-a**ed bridge over once troubled water and entered its limits.
Here i am, hobbled due to the cut on my foot that i still have no explanation for, passing through the closest thing i’d had to a concept of home throughout the earlier legs of AOL, actually needing medical attention…but the escape velocity was padding every step underfoot so i just rolled onward, praying to God for the best. But she fought, that city did. And it was that fight FOR me that reminded me that WHY i always came back was substantially more potent than the things that factored into when i’d last left.
When I hit San Antonio, the fog set in. And i mean literally.
It was my FIRST experience of the phenomenon firsthand lol- I know! Tornadoes, Hurricanes! Hail Storms, Earthquakes…yet never a fog- And i HAVE to tell you…it took a lot of mental effort not to be put on edge as we pushed out into it. It was thick- so thick that when we got out to stretch our legs I sincerely could see nothing but white three feet in front of me. It was like one of the sci-fi “constructs” i’ve been writing about all this time, actually experienced lol. And Anything could come out of that boundless white, so i went back in lol. It was so opaque that i started to have flashes of concepts go off like flares scrawled across it as we continued on.”Traveling in a cloud of witnesses” ” Angels in clouds” and all, even mental nods to greek mythology’s entry into the underworld epics i’d poured over as a child, about walking through fog to enter the elysian fields, no need of the river Styx. From San Antonio through Laredo, white as bright as freshly laundered sheets strung up on the windows like a dream, we cross the border… WHAM!
Glaringly blue skies, flooded with sunshine, making the eagle eating the snake on a cactus scream out all the more. I came out of the office where i got stamped and looked back over the river, confused, but not at all. The last pic i took with my phone before my wireless shut down was of the multitude of clusters of crosses tied to beat-up fences along the road that went down to the river, scribbled with names, many with “No identificado.”
The morning I arrived in Mexico, the art residency i’d been hoping for down the road gelled into a “when would you like to come?” situation that i happily hadnt expected. It is possible it could have even been timed to entery, i do not know because i did not find out until days later, after i’d followed the pull of one of the particular places that this pilgrimage itself was quietly about.
In Nuevo Larredo, i changed tickets to head to Monterrey, the first place my mom went upon getting her passport many moons ago. She had gushed about it so much that it had left me completely curious.The Terrain- the curve of the land going to and through Monterrey hit me hard the way the passes between Madrid and Granada once did.
The first memory i have of the concept of guardian angels personalizing for me had them defining themselves as “Black Mexicans” (at a time when we were taught that the concept was about as possible as fairies and elves in school),and showing me their mountains, so the child in me felt like she was truly set free amongst ancient inner imagery.
We cut down through mountains that made my Heart shake as i could swear i saw ziggurats at every turn hidden just beneath the surface and I ambled into Monterrey, happy and spiritually exhausted by just the abject Beauty of the land of Mexico that, sadly, Nobody talks about when they mention the country.
While in Monterrey, I suddenly got the urge to change my tickets again..and attempted to explain it in Spanish to the porters, asking where i needed to go to do so. Now, I’d already had my “Bedazzled” moment ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdIr422SjCc) outside of Laredo in the states where something went down and I sleepily started answering an elderly woman and her grandchild in Spanish…to the shock of us all lol. From that, I was sure i was good to go.
Upon entry to Monterrey i was straight
“oh man,…i can DO THis! Let’s Go!”
FAMOUS LAST WORDS.
lolol – I CONFUSED EVERYBODY LOLOL. Even the ones having to crane their necks back in order to try to flirt with my elbows- it was Hilarious- then one guy takes my ticket, saying “comprendo-“
I’m still at the side of the premier bus, mind you-it was like some scene from a trippy bollywood movie- every noise and color whirled up around like the city was bursting into campy song in the interlude- It all happened so fast that the whole “NYC-yo, did he just take my ticket?!” moment didnt even have time to happen lol. The ticket swiper shows up all “tadah!” and brings me back a new ticket that confused the issue even more lol.
…and then He galloped in gallantly…
on a silver porter cart that gleamed in the sun like a white horse. Tall, strapping dude[1st time i’ve ever called a dude “strapping” in the traditional sense lol], sunlight dappled across the flesh of his baby cheeks and the ripples of black wavy hair that stuck out from under his cap. He had the light of lilbabyjesus beaming out of every pore of his body, and large eyes that at any moment could flash from tranquil to terrifying kinda like yours truly lol. In other words, pure kindred. In the middle of Monterrey. After not seeing kindred in like foreva in the states. He smiled a soft, sweet smile, opened his mouth …and Full-on JERSEY ENGLISH tumbled across his tongue as he asked if he could help lol.
I MAY have gasped, or fainted, or something along those lines, but next thing i know, he had thrown my cases on his truck as if they weighed a feather and all but tossed me across his shoulders as we rode off into the sunset….ok-to the actual counter that could fix what had become so utterly jacked up ticketwise in a very short time.
Now…you guys who know my Amazonian way of walking through life know it is Not Often that i get the chance to gleefully play the damsel lolol, let alone falling goofily into the arms of another kindred…so ya Know…i had a campy, over-the-top, blush-grinning ball lol.
His name? Guillermo. He practiced his English with me and Even got the rest of those at the counter to bear the painful burden of me unwrapping my tied tongue from around palabras[words] that had gotten utterly confused in delivery again and again until i Really KNEW how to ask for what it was he was asking them to do for me, In Spanish, in case i needed to change anything else down the road.
We chatted for the remainder of my layover.Turned out he had Lived in Jersey 6 or 7 years, then married a girl in Baltimore, had a kid, divorced and returned to Monterrey. He was working as a porter happily there…because due to his time in the states he had been able to buy TWO houses down here, plus had a beautiful daughter. He asked me if i wanted to see a pic. I said sure.
He flips open his wallet and my jaw dropped. His ex-wife? A five-foot-eleven-inch tall, brown as me black woman with a big grin, natural hair and an addiction to high heels…with a sweet, campbell soup kid -cherub faced two year old daughter with a mass of wilding waves like his, blushgrinning happily on her knee with her brother.
“You reminded me of them,” he said softly. “That’s why i came to help. we aren’t together anymore, but it’s cool, she brings my daughter down to see me all the time!” the sweet campiness of my “Awwwww!!!” rang through the terminal. It was just like a goofy kiss on the forehead. The first of many in this simply surreal beautiful place called Mexico.
He went back to his work, but kept an eye on me lol, and when the flirty ones reconvened around me asking my height and we started writing numbers-as in centimeters- on hands to show what was what- he made sure to be present enough to keep them in check, eyes back on that terrfying flashpoint tip. Guillermo the Guardian Angel, indeed.