When I was young(er) and I lost something, the instant I realized said thing was no longer in my possession I immediately spiraled into an obsessive panic. I felt the urge to FIND the thing and to find it NOW. If, after wildly riffling through all my belongings and scouring my immediate surroundings I did not find the thing, I widened the range of my search. I probed every possible nook and cranny and even occasionally interrogated innocent bystanders to see if they had seen or taken the thing. If still I had no luck and saw that I would be forced to accept the fact that my precious thing was indefinitely gone, I would move into Phase II of the Lost Things Mania: REPLACE THE THING. I would look for the quickest and cheapest way – quick being more important than cheap – to get a new pen or pair of sunglasses or piece of jewelry. You see, what I really wished was to erase from memory the very idea that that thing had ever gotten lost in the first place.
I do not want to be sitting here, writing this. I would rather be doing any other thing in the world. I have procrastinated for long enough and now, in the short time I have, I must write.
I was going to start this long overdue post by saying that time is flying. I was going to say that there are certain things I need to write about from the time right before Rafa’s death and birth so that I will never forget them. But now, time is mush. Time is nothing.
I have a somewhat strange practice that I do at the beginning of each year. A while back, a friend of mine told me about las Cabañuelas: in some Oaxacan communities people believe that one can learn something about the upcoming year by paying a bit more attention to what happens in the first twelve days of January. Each day corresponds to an upcoming month. I like the idea of seeding intentions or understanding better what one could expect of the year, simply by being more aware during its first days. And so, since 2015 I have been writing monthly intentions for the year between the first and twelfth of January.
But since Rafa’s death, time is different – I no longer live it as a mere instrument to mark the passing of specific events. Though I’d like to still believe that time is divisible, limited, linear… I no longer believe it’s that simple. I now experience linear time as a trick. When I turned to the month of December in my calendar this year, I read the intention there, shook my head and laughed cynically. It said: “Enjoy the moments of feeling good and wellbeing. It is a time to celebrate a wonderful, magical year.”
Below that, in pencil, I wrote myself a note in response: “Fuck you, former self.”
I saw Coco. I went to see it the day after Christmas with Yeyo and the rest of my family. I was two months pregnant. I actually really liked it. I cried at the end, thinking about how we would soon be a bigger family with a new baby. I also heard a lot of grumbling in Oaxaca this year about the commercialization and Disney-ification of el Día de los Muertos as a result of this and other films. As November approached, there was a tangible shift in the energy of the city. Every hotel was fully booked and flights were impossible to find. The place was going to be a full capacity and that made me nervous.
Don’t get me wrong: I love everything about this holiday. I love the colors: purples, oranges, yellows, fuchsias, black. I love the costumes and parades and the building of altars. I love the solemnity and the celebration all tied up in one paradoxical package. It’s the pretty much the only holiday I celebrate all year. But with all the hype in the U.S.A. about Day of the Dead in recent years, Oaxaca has become somewhat of a mecca for foreigners during these days. And this time around, well, I have a very different relationship with death than I did before.
Note: Sometimes, this blog will be in Spanish. Sometimes in English. I will not translate, but rather try to strike a balance between English and Spanish posts so that these reflections can reach a broader audience.
Nota: A veces, escribiré en español. A veces, en inglés. No voy a intentar a traducir todo, sino encontrar un equilibrio entre las publicaciones en inglés y español para que estas reflexiones pueden alcanzar una audiencia más amplia.
Hoy, el 24 de octubre solía ser el Día del San Rafael, el arcángel. También hay cierta evidencia de que hoy, hace un año, fue el día que el embrión que era nuestro Rafa se implantó en mi útero. Nunca lo sabremos por seguro. Pero me parece un buen momento para compartir algunas de las sincronías relacionadas con el nombre y el ser que fue Rafael.
Nuestro bebé no tenía nombre. Por muchos, muchos meses no supimos como llamarle. Su nombre sólo vino después de que murió y nació. En el mero principio pensábamos que iba a ser una niña entonces le decíamos “lentejita” porque presumimos que era Ruby quien venía en camino. Luego, cuando descubrimos que el bebé tenía pene, Yeyo se obsesionó con la idea de que aún así, el nombre tenía que empezar con una “R”. Buscamos por arriba y por abajo los nombres que nos gustaron que empezaban con “R”. Fue difícil. Creamos una pequeña lista de candidatos y la escribí en un cartón amarillo que colgué en el refri. De vez en cuando agregamos un nombre a la lista.