Yesterday: I’m sitting in a bus station near the virgin. She’s in a glass case on the wall with red velvet curtains hanging on either side, fairy lights above her, and way down on the ground great arrangements of red roses and a white roses on stone pillars, and on the ground the ubiquitous Christmastime Noche Buena (poinsettia). I think they’re all real because you can donate money for the maintenance of the shrine. But then I go closer and no, the roses are not real.
It is Christmas Eve as I write this and tonight people here will be having Christmas dinner with their families. I have been in the home town of a friend for the weekend, a gas town, and it’s like tourist towns but a little more worn. One of the ‘forgotten Mexican towns’. Her uncle gave me a mobile phone case knitted by his wife who died two months ago.
At this point I’m exhausted with being friendly to people. I feel like it’s an imposition when people have to talk English to me, and when I hear English I know it’s for me. And then I feel a bit left out when they don’t talk English to me, and I’m just waiting. Or this can be a refuge. I want to say something that’s not filtered through niceness.
It is Christmas morning at home. My parents will still be cleaning and cooking at my grandma’s home. My brother will be lying on the couch reading. Now I’m glad for the repetition of tens of Christmases and New Year’s Eves my whole life, because they are imprinted in me. Last Christmas was quiet because people were away but it was one of the nicest. I’m glad I remember it now because my grandma is sick.
Today. After the bus station, my friend picked me up and we drove to her aunt’s house. I was about to have a emotional breakdown, but she kindly suggested we go for a walk, so we went around the estate just as the last light was going from the sky. Then dressed quietly for Christmas. She has drawn my attention to a quote from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief: Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me. I thought about this at dinner, much more relaxing. We had some wines and a very merry dinner, and passed around presents. For the first in my life, a wood fire at Christmas.
In this morning, we went to church, and then for a walk by the artificial lake, and I practiced driving. Getting better. We went with the aunt to a seafood restaurant in another forgotten Mexican town, and then home.
When I checked my emails my cousin writes that my grandma has entered into palliative care, is very at peace with the news. I’m thinking, until then, and every day is something special. Another day. But the wound is open, the visceral immensity of life is beating at the surface. She’s lived such a life so far. My cousins were sharing photos and messages on facebook.