Sunday, June 14, 2009

purging words and flesh

Ohhhh my. What a week. For most of it, this is what I felt like:

To begin with, I left practice on Monday sore in ways I’ve never been before, in places I didn’t know I had. My back muscles suddenly found themselves in foreign situations, where they didn’t know the language or customs. They flailed around, did their best, but were ultimately, utterly exhausted.

Then, just starting to recover, I found myself Wednesday noon at a carnitas stand run by a fellow luchador. Glad to see me, he served me two tacos -- or rather, two hills of tender pork piled as high and wide on their respective tortillas as physically possible. Helping myself to pico de gallo and guacamole turned the situation on my plate -- in terms of sheer mass, and of practically transporting this mass towards my stomach -- into an absolute farce. But delicious.

But ohhhhh how I felt like a hill of pork, or a slab of beef, as I stumbled around on my weary legs -- through the city, in practice, home on the metro. By Thursday morning, the thought of any more meat made my head spin -- or maybe it was the room that was spinning. Either way, nothing sounded good. By noon I was carefully spooning plain yogurt and bites of fresh mango. For the next 24 hours -- 48 total -- I didn’t, couldn’t attempt anything more complex than fresh fruit and plain yogurt. I recovered. Thankfully, it wasn’t Moctezuma’s Revenge but something stranger, more mysterious, more obvious -- my body had taken in so much meat in three weeks that it started to emulate it, to become meat. Sloppy, heavy, flushed red in the sun. The process of becoming what I eat doesn’t feel nearly as good as it tastes.

And then also, I was silent, inert. I haven’t really gone out -- partly because of night practices, but also because my few friends here are extremely busy. Each night, as I walk home, I see hordes of beautiful Mexicans crowding the Condesa’s trendy night life. And each night I feel more and more lonely as the cacophony of music and voices lulls me to sleep.

Errol Morris (documentary filmmaker, master of the interview) says that:

“I think that there is a real need that people have to talk. I used to think that if I ever had a tattoo, my tattoo would say Born to Babble. People have a need to talk. And if they've already told you a story, they have dissipated that need.”

I believed him before, but never, ever, have I felt this need as deeply as I did this week. I felt so lonely -- from being in a foreign place, actively seeing, hearing, sensing, and wrestling: taking so much in, processing, and trying to make sense, but having no friendly ears to let me talk out this energy. Friday afternoon, checking my email in a café looking out on Parque México, I noticed the t-shirt of a guy nearby, and proceeded to ask him about it, about his food, about his job (he’s a teacher and artist), and then to tell him about my thoughts on education and creativity, about my projects, my stomach, my life. I tried to rein in my loquacity, but failed. Fortunately, this didn’t scare him off -- though I surely saw a hint of fear in his eye. Later that night, after practice, still compulsively searching for complacent ears, I went out to the bars, by myself. The bartenders weren’t so inviting, but one cook smiled at me which seemed to operate, subconsciously, as a trigger: the dam broke, and soon the poor woman was looking helplessly in my eyes, begging with her own for a pause long enough to take leave to deliver french fries or take a smoke break or anything to get away from the tide of questions, stories, and observations which she couldn’t have anticipated when she half-smiled at this pathetic gringo, alone at the bar.


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