Last weekend, I went to see Coco. I swear I see other movies, old films and critically acclaimed ones and indies, but from my letters you’d think the only ones I feel worth writing you about are the latest Fast & Furious movie and animated children’s movies.
I always forget how much I miss Mexican culture. When I think about home, I miss the obvious things, like my parents and chicken strips with gravy and breakfast tacos. I forget about the subtle things like live mariachi at Mexican restaurants (the only time anyone has ever called mariachi subtle) and Styrofoam cups of fruit with chili powder before soccer games and airbrushed images of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
Growing up, I loved Dia de los Muertos. All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation in the Catholic church and, going to Catholic school, they would give us printouts of sugar skulls that we’d color and clip to string hung across the windows and then take us to mass.
The colors and the sounds in the movie took my breath away and made me fiercely homesick. I laughed when Miguel sings for the first time and he practices his grito–that shout you sometimes hear in mariachi music; I didn’t know what it was called, I just knew it as the thing my dad taught me to do at weddings. Living in a city, you don’t get many chances to holler at the top of your lungs on the Metro without causing a ruckus but, when I think back to Texas, I remember doing gritos on every street corner (obviously this is an exaggeration but rose colored glasses and all that).
I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all week. If you’re keeping a list of things to catch up on when you’re back to regular wifi access, put this one on the list. It definitely did not make me cry.
Speaking of things that did not make me cry: do you remember that Scandinavian Pain exhibit at the Hirschhorn? About three-quarters of the way through, there was that room with the music. Somewhere around a dozen screens were hung on the walls, showing footage of musicians playing instruments in different rooms of an old house in Iceland. Surrounded by bed-sheet sized screens, in the dark and the sad, soulful music playing, I’d never felt so wholly swept up in a moment, in a feeling, in art. And I just stood there in the middle of it, open-mouthed and laughing because there was this feeling building and to let it out I was either going to laugh or cry.
Costa Rica was like that, moments a dozen times a day when I’d get swept up and lost in that sense of awe: laughing at waterfalls and standing on your porch and driving on dangerously winding roads on the side of mountains while eating tamales and tiptoeing across hanging bridges and watching sunrises from a hammock on a cliff.
Another month and you’ll have been in country for a year. One year in, what are you most grateful for? (Gratitude Turkey Rules: nothing obvious or overly sentimental; must be unexpected and practical and ridiculous) Where do you wash your clothes? Have you hustled anyone at pool? Did you make a triptych for that wall space over your stairs?
I got two new plants. I’ll probably kill those too. D.C. is the same. The weather is the same as it was last time this year. Our friends are the same (except for Ally, she’s in Arizona now; I roll my eyes every time she talks about how great Arizona is because I’m bitter but I’ll still visit her in the fall). I’m still scared of heights but I’m as stubborn as ever and I fall a little bit more in love with climbing each time I do it.
Sending you this card blank so that you can share it with someone and convince them to come chase more waterfalls with you.
Te extraño mucho,