Thursday, June 16, 2011

Catch-up, un columbiano, and my new friends Edgar and Erick.

Hey errybody.

So it's already been a couple of days since I wrote WHOOPS. I'm gonna have a go at summarizing last week actually briefly, then fill you all in on the last couple of days which have been super full. Okay, I left you all at last Wednesday night. Thursday morning Patricia and Sandra, two women from Barrio Activo (Patricia is Edgar's wife) picked me up to take me to a workshop on confronting violence. Sounds cool, was honestly really boring and in a hot room and I got home five hours later overwhelmed and exhausted and bah. I was disappointed because I had been so excited about Barrio the day before. But what can you do. That evening there was a presentation at the Casa about the Red Tlaloc, which was crazy boring and I continued to be overwhelmed by Spanish and the heat. I'm pretty sure something happened that night to make me feel better, but I just asked Linet and we can't remember. I think I took a shower and hung out with her and that made things fun again.

Friday I was super looking forward to sleeping in, and I did, and it was glorious.We at a meeting at noon to go over reception stuff, then the three of us went out to a café for lunch and delicious sugary coffee drinks with Hayley. We talked for like an hour and a half while the Casa was being fumigated (bedbugs). Got back and I worked the third shift with Allison, which was cool except she kept trying to do everything for me and I kept having to say, "Let me do that. I have to learn!" Ugh. BUT a bunch of us went out Friday night and that was super fun so. Hurray. Saturday and Sunday I totally lumped around and recuperated from not sleeping all week, but also was sick again so boo. But whatever.

MONDAY. Was awesome!! You all saw that I was not feeling so great at the beginning. I had been pretty antisocial and homesick-ish (sick of being out of my comfort zone, really), and was ambivalent about having to re-engage. I worked the second turn and it was pretty great. Hectic, and a little nerve-wracking at times, but Hayley was there for backup and it was great to actually be doing things and learning stuff. We had our weekly meeting at 6, which was super boring but it's chill, and I actually contributed in Spanish and it was cool to feel all brave and more comoda at the table. An excerpt from an e-mail to my mom will do a better job of talking about that day than I can right now: 

"Um yeah. Today: shift was crazy but good. I thought I was going to have to work it alone, but Hayley was there for support. Then weekly meeting (boring), then clarifying with Nico my Barrio Activo schedule for the rest of the week (busy), then cooking dinner with Linet (hilarious), then sharing dinner with a bunch of guests (awesome - our friend from Pakistan made the most most delicious comida), then hanging clean clothes (YAY) out to dry on the clotheslines on the roof with Linet and Hayley (great great bonding girl time). Back here to brush my teeth with Linet and a cool guest (honestly I'm excited because there's a bunch of Americans here for the week. At least I know how to deal with American weirdness), and then have a great conversation with Linet. I read her a few lines from your e-mail (about poetry), and she said, "I think she's right. You really sell yourself short and you shouldn't." She means about playing the guitar and about my Spanish. She thinks it's good. I talked to her mom and stepdad on skype today, and Linet keeps saying how her mom can't believe how good my Spanish is and that I just learned it in school. She also said that she thinks I'm Hayley's favorite, which I totally do not think is true (I think Linet and I are tied), but it made me feel good all the same, because I sometimes feel a little silly around her (only because she's so cool). Anyway, so going to bed full and tired and productive and content... Today ended up being more packed than I thought it'd be. Hurray :)" It was great to spend some more time in the guest lounge and talking to people besides my wifey (don't worry, I love her, but it's always good to have variety).

TUESDAY. Yesterday. Ay, it hurt to get up so early to work the first shift, but then it was kind of cool. I made a new Columbian friend, who I think is a migrant because when he first left the Casa he explained where he was going and asked if that was okay. That happens sometimes, because people have been held in this migration centers - i.e. prisons - and it takes a little while to sink in that they can treat the Casa like a home. Hmm... Anyway, when he came back a little while later he came over and just started talking to me, which was awesome. Just asking me about myself in a non-creepy way, and I asked about him, and it was all in Spanish which was less stressful than I thought it what be. He's 23, he's super cute, I mean whatever. It was cool. It's weird, yesterday feels like a really long time ago. Maybe it's because I was just trying to remember stuff that happened like a week ago, and now the days are all blurry, but stuff that was so vibrant just 24 hours ago feels fuzzy now, and all that feels really present is today. The point is, I really do prefer writing every night, just so I can even remember what happened. Because I feel like I'm forgetting all the fun details that make a day an experience. Anyway. 

After my shift (during which I'm sure more cool stuff happened, I just can't remember... oh yeah! Hayley made me a poached egg which I was scared of but turned out to be delicious, I gave two tours, and a really cool girl came who's going to be a long-term guest. Excited to get to know her) I thought I had a couple of hours to shower and maybe nap and things, but as it turned out there had been a miscommunication, and Edgar arrived to pick me up just moments after I grabbed my clothes of line. Aaaahhh!!! Ran to grab my things and put on real shoes, then walked out into the world with one of the nicest people ever. I was really nervous before we went because I had such trouble understanding him before, but he was soooo sweet. It took us absolutely forever to get to Barrio, because we walked to this far bus stop, then there was crazy traffic because of protests, and then we had to change buses because we were trying to meet up with Erick who was in a meeting with some people to get a grant.

Anyway, Edgar was/is soooooo nice. He asked me all about myself, and told me a ton about Barrio’s history and about things we saw around the city, and I really felt like he got to know me in important ways. Just like the kind of person that I am. Which doesn’t even matter really because he’s so busy with things that are so much more important than silly little me. I honestly just feel lucky that I had the chance to talk with him. So it was great to spend like a couple of hours with him. I really stumbled with my Spanish at first, but I really could understand most of what he said, and I said some things too, so cool. I got all nervous again when we finally met up with Erick, but he also happens to be tied with Edgar for nicest person in the world, so after a few minutes of sitting next to him on the bus he had me trying to explain Quakerism in Spanish. Again, I just felt really flattered that he was even interested in hearing what I had to say, because he’s such an incredible person doing such great things in the world. I was stumbling over my Spanish, and trying to explain about this tiny religious community of Friends, which sure is important to me but in the context of Mexico City poverty and violence, who really cares – and I was just so struck that he was interested in what I was trying to say. He thinks about a million details a day, but there he was asking me about myself. Anyway. Crazy. I guess it makes sense, now that I write it out – Quaker values, the kind of work they’re doing… it’s totally kindred business. But still.

So we got to Barrio way early for the taller de guitarra that I was there to see, but I just chilled out and helped Pati make some signs to decorate the Barrio’s space. AMISTAD. AMOR. ARMONIA. COMUNICACIÓN. COMUNIDAD. LIDERAZGO. My friend Leslie (finally learned/remembered her name!) teaches the guitar classes, and she is only FIFTEEN but way more mature than me. Or at least calmer or something. Anyway, it was awesome. She seems classically trained or something, and was teaching all this theory and technique that I obviously don’t know, so I was obviously super impressed. It was fun understanding all the English words for things too. I was like HA I understand what you just because you’re teaching them how do a slide. Score. Anyway, as the lesson wound down she asked the kids to play what they’d been practicing, and I wasn’t surprised when she asked me to play something. I busted out my Tallest Man on Earth, and the kids were really sweet, shushing each other while I was playing and cheering when I was finished. Oh geeze. But Nico tells me I have a lot to live up to – apparently Liv could be on TV. Linet tried to come to my defense and dinner, saying that I’m pretty good too, and Nico was just like NO. Not like Liv. So we’ll see. He’s so supportive.

ANYWAY, so it was exhausting but great to be at Barrio, and Leslie and her novio walked me to the bus stop afterwards. I was really glad to just sit down and zone out on the way home, and I knew immediately when I got off at my stop that it was ice cream time. Honestly, Edgar getting here early and running out of the house and not having been able to shower and then just heat and Spanish had all been thoroughly tiring and a little stressful, but I was definitely definitely super contenta when I got home. Contenta with my connections with people and my communication. And with my ice cream. Got home in time for community dinner that I forgot was happening, had a really cool conversation with Jill who I haven’t gotten to talk to that much, tried not to take Nico too seriously as he insisted that I would fail to live up to the legacy of Liv and Joey at Barrio Activo, and ate deliciously tasty something that Greta made. We had Seguridad y Emergencias orientation after dinner, then went out with Hayley and Lydia for (yes, my second) ice cream. I wasn’t going to get anything obviously, but the chocolate was calling so whatever. It was super fun hanging out with them. I am huge fans of theirs. Got back super worn out, starting watching Hercules with Linet (we finally actually snuggled in her bed, after all this time of making jokes), and ended the whole long incredible day with a really delicious Skype date with my favorite Oregon-type man. Seriously, seriously good day.

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