On the hard edges

A few weeks ago I spent more money than I should have on books and an entire Saturday afternoon speaking about Didion and the book I will one day write and why poetry is something you take with you everywhere in a bookstore the size of my room back home. I met someone that called this city an octopus and spoke about coming back into its arms and the way he said he did not want to speak about the Tijuana border made me want to cry.

A week earlier, in a mezcal-city of straw-bags and marigolds strung up like Christmas lights, I had a conversation about Shelley and Frankenstein, and what science fiction is and isn’t and ended up with an invitation to a book club of people from everywhere, that is happening right here. That night I listened to music in a park full of people and walked cobbled streets lit up with candles.

Some days, I speak so much my throat hurts for days afterwards. Other days, I do nothing but clean my plants with banana skins to help them breathe better, and I see no one except my neighbour who gave me an extra blanket for the cold and lets me use his washing machine. I have told someone what the book I will write will look like for the very first time, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. I feel that a lot here. I am always surprised by how much there is still left to learn.

I am lucky enough to live at the same time as one of my favourite writers, someone whose words have been so important in getting me to where I am that it seems unlikely. Sometimes we exchange a message or two over social media, and a few days ago she said to me, ‘It is a wonderfully wild life you live. It is so easy to feel when we are just living it, that it is par for the course, but I am here to remind you that it is impressive.’

And that is true. I would not be having the kind of conversations I am having now, meeting the kind of people I do, or writing the way I am if I wasn’t choosing this, every single day. I cry more here, but I live more easily too. Or at least, more wildly, which to me feels easier.

There is nothing simple about this, and I am happy as often as I am sad, but it is a good thing to remember that people turn cactus-spined when they are dissatisfied, and it is something I have been running from a long time. There is always someone betting against you, and if you live your life well enough, you will have very little to do with them.

Time seems even more elastic here than it usually does, and I cannot believe I have learnt how to get almost anywhere in this city from my apartment and that I still don’t understand how to keep enough water in the house. I do not quite remember how it felt to be anywhere else. I feel this way every new place I go- does anywhere really exist for us the way the place that we are right at that moment does? Sometimes, I do not believe that there is anywhere other than Mexico City. Most days, I wouldn’t mind if that were true.

A few days ago, I heard someone describe living somewhere new as humiliation after humiliation. Its true, and it is more difficult than anyone never having left their home would understand, but he both said it and I heard it with a certain sense of pride. It is gut wrenching and hard-edged, but it is good.

I am many things here, always tired and Tequila-Sunrised and spread thin and missing home. I am also having late-afternoon conversations and seeing places so beautiful they make me ache and learning to say all of this in a new language, and it is impressive. For all the ways being here has turned me black and blue, I do not want to be anywhere, or anything, else.

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