I rounded the corner and there she was before me, the green light of the Olive Garden sign washed over me and I felt as if I were a pilgrim arriving in the holiest spot in all the world. I was giddy with excitement reader, and I veritably rushed for the escalator that would lead up to the doors of the blessed restaurant.
The beginning was simple enough, just a staircase, but after the first major tiered level, the steps became increasingly steep and people were huffing and puffing. I am blessed to be in fairly good shape for doing absolutely nothing to maintain my fitness, so I wasn’t too poor off, but I must admit that after two-thirds of the climb, my beautiful thighs were aching. I mused about how attractive I might be if I climbed a pyramid every day. I think that would be a tremendously amusing fitness regimen. But how many people have access to a pyramid in reality? Very few I suppose.
In tiny, packed hallways, shoppers crowded around small vendors. Each vendor sold a variation on a similar theme: witchcraft. Santa Muerte glowered down from every surface, that wonderfully evocative patroness of the lost and downtrodden. Since I booked my flight to Mexico, I have been deeply intrigued by this heretical icon. She is revered by many people in Mexico, but the Catholic Church has condemned her worship. She’s skeletal and terrifying and considerably menacing to some. Legend says she will appear in your dreams, answer your prayers with the right gifts, and bring death to your enemies. She’s charming. Santa Muerte is not a truly Catholic image, obviously, instead she is the perpetuation of ancient Aztec religious belief.
We lost so much this year…the Obamas, pride in our nation, my long and beautiful hair (for which many are still in mourning)… but whilst the world melted down and we became closer and closer to nuclear annihilation, I found ways to stay entertained, delighted, and discovered ways to bring joy back into to my life. (Lolz, I sound like Oprah.)
I thanked whatever god might be out there that I had the opportunity to see this sight and that my thighs were going to look great after that climb. The golden dome of the old basilica glinted in bright sunshine, the green roof of the new basilica reinforced my comparison to Disney’s Space Mountain, and all over, as far as the eye could see, stretched buildings and homes, boulevards and streets. It was utterly beautiful and my breath was swept away. What a charming nation, what a rich culture, and how lucky I was to be here in this moment to experience it.
The real triumph, though, was a box of chocolate by a brand called Merci. Reader…oh my dear and darling readers. These little bars of chocolate are extraordinary. Truly, they taste like they came out of a fine chocolate shop in the middle of a little village in Switzerland. I can’t believe I can pick them up at a budget grocery store in the middle of the state in the middle of the country. We live in truly blessed times. The box that I picked up had several flavors, but the one stuffed with dark chocolate mousse was the best. I cackled merrily as I sat in bed eating chocolates and watching the Kardashians. I was getting fatter, getting nothing done, and doing no good for my workload, but I was living the definition of my very best life.
I miss all those people and all these places. In fact, missing things might be the only unpleasant part of travel. Abroad, your existence is transitory; you are an ephemeral presence in another world. I think of these encounters daily, like the waitress at the Café Saint-Antoine that I adored, but they’re surely too busy living their lives to recall a young man who spent a month on their shores. Still, it’s wonderful to have that to remember and reflect on.
Monday: Why don’t you spend a day in complete and absolute silence? There are few things rarer than the blissful glory of utter quiet. All day, every day, we have […]
One life is hardly enough. I have no fear of death, but I really am irked that I only have a century here. And that is if I’m lucky. For a lot of people, more than I ever expected, a hundred years is plenty. People are tired and worn down and disinterested in life. I think there’s nothing more thrilling than being alive, seeing what’s around and learning about what has happened in the recent and distant past, so I will never understand this attitude. If I could live forever, I would pay whatever price. I’d make a deal with the Devil if that were a real thing.
I woke up gasping for air, wondering if the Grim Reaper had finally come. I didn’t really feel like dying, but I quickly rationalized that I’d led a life worth remembering, and I was fairly certain several people would host a funereal roast for me. So I accepted my mortal end. It was chic enough to die in Mexico City.