Monday, September 15, 2014

The Low Lowdown

Before i studied abroad at the age of 20, the organizers of the program showed us a graph that was meant to enlighten us about the highs and lows of being away from home for a long time. It went something like this:

  / \
 /   \
/     \     __/\__   ___/\__ ad infinitum.
       \   /          \/

Basically, you start out your trip on a high note in which everything is new and all things rosy. That is quickly followed by a plunge into a low in which everything seems difficult and everything back home was waaay better than what you're now experiencing. Then there is an evening-out for a while, followed by less-profound spikes and plunges. Eventually though, you find your center.

Today, friends, is one of those plunges.

There is no one thing to pin it on. In fact, it's perhaps more due to what happens in my everyday job of writing how-tos for the masses -- and the snarky faceless editors that come with it -- than anything happening on this strip of land.

But today the plunge is punctuated by yet another child coming to the door asking to swim (meaning i have to supervise said kid who doesn't know how to swim), yet another ca-cawing pair of roosters at 4 am (who are not kept for making babies, but for fighting in cock fights instead), yet another loud motorcycle revving over the sounds of my phone call, yet another person interrupting -- yelling at me from the main floor up to my second-floor office where i am engaged in turning thoughts into cash, yet another sad attempt at explaining something in Spanish.

One more realization that we are outsiders and thus targets of much scrutiny and unwanted attention and many requests for money. One more sweaty set of clothing. One more sad wash of doubt about leaving behind one of the only creatures to grace me with unconditional love...

Clink clank crash, i fall into the low-lowdown loudly, like all the bottles of rum i've already consumed and left on the curb.

When i fall there, the maid, who's cooking my lunch, asks me "Estas enojada?" -- "are you angry?" -- and i cannot explicate my feelings adequately. Craaaasshhh.

Of course i am still enchanted by this town's colonial charm, its fruit sellers who come to the door with the day's harvest, the pool that gives my daughter something to do all day when school is out for three days for a holiday, the maid who makes my life easier by doing my laundry and answering the door in my stead. I am buoyed that my bank account is no longer diminishing and that spending $20 a week on groceries is an exorbitant budget. I try to remember these facts.

Meanwhile, the rebelangel also has her moments of low-lowdown, perhaps less-intricately described. Her, she erupts with "I need a hamburger!" when the monsoonish tropical rain, in its fourth hour of falling, is now combined with the twilight that comes at 6 pm.

To ease her woes i flick open an umbrella and thank the unseen stars that i can catch a cab to a store that stocks emergency doses of American food in large quantities. I buy a pizza -- the ready-made hamburgers seem still too disgusting -- and return to consume carbohydrates with her in the peaceful quiet of a house that is usually much less than.

We eat our feelings and hope for the upswing, which will inevitably come. Swoosh. 


Tabor Badger said...


Cat said...

Ah, beautifully said. Thanks for sharing. Hope the up swing is as fun as the down was not.
We'll eat a burger for you here while you enjoy the sun and rain for us. Missing you!

Nico said...

The ups and the downs are all there, everydamnday... Thanks for checking in, Cat!

#jessicahateshashtags said...

I don't remember seeing a graph. Or going to any meetings, really, though I think I did something at that Global Studies program office. (Probably signed some paperwork, right?) I just remember HAVING to buy my ticket on the same plane as everyone else. Which if I had bought that ticket on Delta vs. United I would have had a free ticket in my early 20s to go somewhere quickly since I went to those conventions with my first job out of college, and we all few Delta. Did you even have a slump in London? I think my slump was whenever I thought about the exchange rate, and when I burned my hand before my birthday. But pretty much after I met you, things were good. So moral of the story is, go make some pals, girl! Lots of them. We had a family of all kinds of peeps on that group. You just need a posse, you're a posse kinda gal sometimes! Channel the brilliance of your 20-year-old self! And pleeeease leave behind the reckless parts! <3

Nico said...

@jessicahateshashtags i simply don't know what you mean with your recklessness comment. What, you don't want to sleep on the streets of Amsterdam or make cabbies in Mexico City take you to the ATM at midnight, alone? Pssshaw. And yes, pals are good. Looking!