We--my father, my mother, and I--moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca in December 1975, when I was two months shy of three years old. I have fragmented memories of that December. For instance, walking around the pool wearing corduroy pants and a woolen sweater (yes, winters in the central altiplano of México can be cold), but my parents were wearing swimming suits, and I remember remarking on that, briefly, internally.
The mystery didn't last long; when I was most distracted, when I least expected it, they pushed me into the deep end of the pool. Having just moved from an apartment into a 1.5K-square-meter property with a giant, very deep body of water in the center of the manicured landscape, they needed to know that their little girl--their only little girl--could save herself if she fell in unobserved. (The swimsuits were in case I couldn't.)
I did, though. I swallowed some water, I froze half to death (my perception; apparently I wasn't even blue when I came out), and it took me a long, long time to forgive my parents for this, the ultimate betrayal of trust (again, my perception), but I doggie-paddled without any trouble to the stairs leading out from the deep end of the pool and climbed out. All by myself.
|View of the house from the lawn. The previous photo was |
made from the highest tier, just under the blue carport roof.
Cuernavaca is that, above all. The scene of those bursts of growing up. Most are painful: the loss of my father, the betrayal of my first love, the end of an entire life of dreams. Some are shameful, others embarrassing, many giggle-worthy (now, in hindsight). I understand why I left, why I needed to leave it all behind--and, now, I understand too why this city exerts such a pull in spite of the two decades I've been away.
Returning to Cuernavaca is the cusp of nostalgia. The childhood I lived in that huge house was a thing of fantasy. The friends I made, the people I loved; they're all there, in unexpected corners. That house is a time machine that pounces, much like my parents that December morning 4 decades ago, when I least expect it. And I've never felt it as strong as I did this time.
|Reunion with high school classmates I hadn't seen in|
twenty years. Yes, TWENTY. Funnily enough, conversation
(and laughter--especially laughter!) flowed like we'd seen
each other just a few months ago. Like time hadn't passed
Whatever it was, being there was a hard thing. Leaving, though, was even harder. If I didn't have such happiness to come back to in Curaçao I'm not sure I could have gotten on that plane.
Being a writer, I recorded the whole emotional roller-coaster in my journal. It'll be most helpful in the not-too-distant future :)