I couldn’t believe how fast time had flown by, how two weeks were gone and how I was about to go back to a place that I’d be fine never returning to. In the modern world we don’t always need proximity to our loved ones, we can just text or Facetime. Technology is a blessing, but I could never send Little Chiffon a text. I don’t know if she can read. And I doubt she has her own phone.
I feel that I have steered myself through life using my own thoughts, instead of the divine guidance of a deity. Probably why I never became a monk, even though I’ve considered it with regularity. I think if there had been a few simple changes in my early life I would be living in a monastery right now, never experiencing the world, never learning about the great and glorious cultures that have risen and fallen and continue to grow, never setting foot on new continents, never eating grasshoppers or good French baguettes. And I get the hideous feeling in the back of my mind that were I a monk, I would be utterly and perfectly content.
As soon as the sun set, I was on my way to that wonderland on the Avenida Insurgentes. It was dreamier than ever, but I suppose my nearness to departure caused me to romanticize every step of the way. Walmart was a wonder, reader. I stared lovingly at the laundry mat inside and the fast food options and the little cart that sold elote as soon as you came in from the parking garage.
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.
It came to me in a dream, a gastronomic fever dream. In my mind, whilst dying of what could have been the most severe headache in human history, I saw toasted corn tortillas stuffed with curried egg salad. Upon awakening and rejoining the living, my stomach lurched, and my legs propelled me into the kitchen. After downing about four liters of espresso, I began concocting my divinely inspired culinary creation.
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.
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.
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.