Monday, June 29, 2009

The Gravity of San Miguel: Excerpt Two

I hardly ever have time to write, but sometimes I manage to clear the clutter from my brain and attempt to write in fiction. Below is a little bit more from something I'm writing called, "The Gravity of San Miguel."

Twenty minutes later we boarded the bus to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. An attendant handed out ham sandwiches and a drink, and I found my seat. I was surprised at how nice it was; I’d never been on a bus in the United States this luxurious. There were only 24 seats on board the entire coach, each reclined almost fully. There was a drink holder for my Diet Coke, air conditioning, televisions, a large window with curtains, and the bathroom area was cordoned off with a glass wall to keep the smell out. A couple of white people also got on board, and a woman with gray streaks in her hair caught my eye and smiled. I could get used to this type of traveling, I thought as I turned on my I-pod.
It seemed to take forever to get out of Mexico City. We drove past ramshackle neighborhoods with tiny houses stretching up the rolling hills. I stared at Mexicans on street corners, operating fruit stands, selling churros. One lady washed laundry in her front yard in a big plastic tub, while kids with long, black hair frolicked nearby. I smiled when I saw a girl in bright pink shorts, and wondered what her life was like. Even though many areas looked poor, the homes were still brightly colored, like they were trying to infuse happiness into struggling people.
When we reached the open Mexican countryside, it was like we were in Texas. Cacti dotted the rolling brown hills, and I could imagine John Wayne racing toward us on horseback, whooping and hollering with his gun raised. I saw lonely houses with burros tied to sticks, sprawling farms, and Mexican families waiting at bus stops. When I saw the sign for “Querertaro”, I knew we were close. I’d see my new home in a little over an hour.
The bus wheezed to a stop at what looked like a toll booth. Guards wearing green fatigues and holding machine guns patrolled up and down the street. They looked stern, and frowned at our bus. Suddenly I felt very frightened. I imagined bullets riddling the side of the ETN coach, ducking for cover, getting kidnapped. My heart pounded in my chest, but the other white people on board didn’t seem the least bit nervous. It looked like they were comfortable in Mexico, like they’d done this before. Of course, my fears were unfounded, and we were soon on the road again.

* * *

There are some instances in our lives when time seems to stand still. The moment washes over us and freezes, enveloping us in suspended animation. Every sense is optimized as we melt into our surroundings; even the tiny vellus hairs on our skin speak in rapid-fire code to our brains. It's the type of moment we'd live in forever, if we could choose. I had this experience the first time I ever laid eyes on San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
As the bus rose over the last hill to the city, it felt as though we were flying. It was slow-motion, the way my heart rose in my chest; then pounded hard against my ribcage. The stucco buildings came into view against the piercing blue sky, and tears that tasted like ocean crested in a tidal wave and streamed down my cheeks. The hills cocooned the homes that rolled in a red carpet to the magnificent pink parraoquia. Emotion was delicious inside me, scraping away the self-doubt and worry. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was in the right place. Suddenly, inexplicably, I was home.
“Beautiful, isn’t it.” The American woman I'd seen before turned in her seat, her wide smile crinkling her eyes.
“Yes, I had no idea how much so,” I said, feeling sheepish as I brushed tears away.
“Are you visiting, going to live?” she asked.
“I’m moving here from Seattle. I had to get away from the rat race for a little while, figure out what I want to do with my life.”
“Congratulations,” she said, “I’ve lived here for 6 years now. I haven’t been able to leave. My husband lives in Chigaco, I live here, and we commute back and forth to see each other. It’s hard, but, I love San Miguel too much to leave.”
“Wow, I’m not sure if I want to stay that long, but I’m excited to take a break from ordinary life.”
“Nothing in San Miguel is ordinary,” she told me, “It’s like there’s a pull here, a magnet, a gravity. You may never escape.” She smiled again, but I could tell she wasn’t joking.
“I’m Isabelle,” I told her.
“Kathy,” she said, “So nice to meet you.”
I jotted down her number and settled back in my seat. Our bus bumped and swayed over the narrow roads and down to the bus station. I couldn’t wait to get to my apartment, put down my bags, and explore my new home.


McRiguez said...

Oh, i just noticed this. What chapter are you on? I'd like to continue reading it.

abigail said...

wow. I want to go to San Miguel! You have me sold!

Kristin said...

I'm still on the third chapter. I hardly ever work on it, unfortunately. I need brain space, which I don't have very often. I really want you to read it though, when I complete the chapter.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I remeber this bus. I thought this was fiction. I love your ability to craft vivid mental images. I don't think however, that John Wayne would be caught dead waiving a gun like a mad man, maybe it was Pancho Villa. - David