Does anyone go away to stay the same? But it’s true, after I arrive and unpack my bag, I am the same person. This usually means a taste of discontent is there, worries are still lodged in my mind, I’m not quite good enough. There is no such thing as escaping your problems, but I thought this meant don’t bother to travel.
But then, when you’re in a strange place with your cosmetics on a table, and your shoes side by side by the door, and out at a restaurant, or after an exhilarating drive through the city trying to speak a foreign language with a taxi driver whose cab doesn’t have a working seat belt, this is it. You are on a cliff and you are still the same. This is the corner, the most you could passively do before there’s only one option: try, relinquish, fly, or, live.
I have a room to myself in my best friend G’s house. Tiles on the floor, food in the fridge, an open window, a gated complex, cool, quiet. We sat by the pool with our ankles swishing through the water, reacquainting. Late in the day we walked to the park, single file along the motor way, running where the rocks met the road, and past motels which are only rented by lovers here.
My friend instructed me ‘Mexican men often make noises from their cars, just don’t look at them and keep walking, and if they stop and come after you, run’. She paid the entrance fee, inside was like a school ground in a desert town. Families playing basketball, dirt beds, children painting together under a pagoda, community. A eucalyptus leaf crushed smelt like the Australian bush. We made two laps around the lake, on a rise at the top of the town, the lights of town following the hillsides. By full dark the sky is mostly blank with just some stars.
We drove to the supermarket, loaded our things in to the boot and sat down. G turned to me and said, You drive home, come on. I said, but I can’t drive. She said, Come on, it’s not far. But it would be like throwing a baby off a pier to teach them how to swim. But that’s how we learn here. She drove to her gated complex, and I took the wheel, my sixth lesson, second in an automatic. Yes, I can drive. I drove twice around the complex and parked the car. I accelerated, I turned. G concluded that I wasn’t ready for the motor way afterall, but only mentally.