Yesterday, we loaded our blurry-eyed children and our blurry-eyed selves onto an airplane bound for Mexico D.F. We were bringing our children to a home they did not know. We were brining ourselves home. After the inital excitement of lift-off, our children declared themselves bored and promptly fell asleep for most of the flight. H and I filled out immigration forms, and I read. But underneath these mundane tasks, I felt myself growing increasingly nervous about arriving in Mexico. There were a variety of issues that rose, and I examined them each before letting them go.
The last time I was in Mexico I was a different person. I was a colder person. I lived in this little shell and really the only one getting in was Umberto. I felt shut off from people, and the city provided me with a shelter that I couldn´t have found in a smaller town. I loved walking the streets, and feeling like no one could see me. I wrapped myself in an invisibility provided by being a mere one in a city of billions. But I am no longer that person. I have opened myself up to intimacy and love. I no longer feel like the wounded animal looking for a hiding place to lick her wounds. Would I still love this city or would she no longer by my home? And I could really call this great mistress my home?
The plane dipped sharply to the left, and beneath us the outlines of fields gave way to houses. One more sharp descent, and the houses grew into the city. Umberto said: It´s big! This seemed such an understaement as we swept ever closer to the buildings that climb up the valley walls, over the mulitude of cars that crawled over a dizzing maze of roads. Umberto then said, a bit nervously: Are we going to land on the cars? I had forgotten how the plane seems to lower itself right into the middle of the city. Piper just cried ¨Weeee!¨as we landed, and Camille slept through her homecoming. And me? Well I felt a bit foolish as my eyes teared up a bit. I looked over the great city, not nearly so pretty in the harsh light of day, and saw my home. I could feel the big foolish smile on my face, as we came closer and closer. I had come home, and as we drove through the streets to H´s parent´s home, I knew her and loved her.
It is still an odd thing for me to think of this city as my home. I am actuely aware that this not where I was born. I know my roots, and I know that Maine shaped me. Nor do I have any ideas about claiming to be Mexican through marriage. Initally, I thought I could. When you´re white in the U.S., you don´t have a claim to ¨culture.¨ But I quickly realized that my claims were meritless. But from the very first visit, I have felt like Mexico City was my home. Initially this feeling was romantic. I was a country girl from a rural state, and Mexico City was...well a city. And what a city! Old, beautiful, loud, exotic. She seduced me with her lovely buildings, her livey, beautiful people, her anicent, exciting history. But when I returned for my second visit, the intial attraction was over. I saw the diritier side of this city. She was dirty, hard on the poor, filled with prentious middle class people who drove overpriced car while stepping on the indigneous peoples who flooded the city looking for work. I saw the starving dogs and cats that wandered the streets. I saw that she was real. And that made me love her all the more. I found a place for myself in this city filled with amazing breathtaking beauty and horrible ugliness.
And we are back again. She´s changed. There seem to be more cars. There are new buildings, new bus systems. They´ve torn apart Coyocan which almost broke my heart. But there were some of the old cafes. We took Umberto the church plaza where he walked for the very first time. We wandered the streets, looking at the old houses we remembered and still loved. We also got a chance that many don´t have. We got to see her through the eyes of our children. They skipped her sidewalks, found things to love and to fear. We got to eat at H´s dad lovely new pizza place. And I spent my first night, sick to my stomach unable to move from altitude sickness. But you know...I am still in love. Ginger has finally come home.