Mexico City

I’m still a bit dubious

México. Um. I suppose I’m not actually in México proper, since I am only in the capital. Like, you aren’t in the United States if you live in Washington, DC.

Maybe it’s Latin America burnout. I’ve lived and traveled somewhere south of the United States for going on four years, and by the time we leave México, it will be more than six. (And I still no habla Español.)

I’m just not getting into it. Living this way is sort of in limbo. Sure I make the most of it: exercising extreme gluttony and excesses of tequila and cerveza, luxuriating in the mild weather, enjoying art and architecture. But I have no sense of being a part of any of this in any way other than as a consuming passerby. I have been nowhere in Latin America and found myself entertaining even the passing fancy that I could live here.

What I liked about the years we lived in Buenos Aires was that it is the most European-like city in the Americas. (What I didn’t like about it was its Latin American underpinnings.)

Unlike Europe, for which I sustain an intense nostalgia, engaging in frequent and lengthy episodes of reverie. I have lived for many years in two European countries and visited almost all the rest, and it was a rare place I did not imagine living for the rest of my life. (In contrast with the US, place of my birth, where the rarity is finding a place I could stand to live.)

Does our DNA contain some sort of place history? Is there a chromosome containing cultural heritage? I have a European soul, and cannot otherwise account for it, except in an oft-used phrase describing an aspect of my writing as geography as ontology.

If we are who we are because of where we are, then displacement is all the more tragic.

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4 replies »

  1. I’d like to be displaced somewhere warm and beautiful from the middle of October until the first of April ( when there is no baseball season ). Good seafood and steaks would be necessary and beautiful sunrises and sunsets also. I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Oh yeah, lots of great novels to read ( new Don Merritt ones would be nice ).

    • It’s disingenuous for me to complain about these aspects of my life, relatively speaking. It has been nearly five years since I’ve been in a place with real winter. But then, living a total of 10 years in Slovakia and Germany gives me some credits, I think. Oh, and Brenda, trust me on this … you can get tired of steaks, no matter how fine they are.

      I’m still plunging ahead, hoping to have a new book ready before the end of the year. Thanks for anticipating.

  2. We’re hoping to get back to Europe after this Mexico gig ends. But there are no certainties about assignments. Either way, the next post is the last post. It’s retirement after that. If we aren’t able to afford to live in Med Europe, we might go to the southern California coast somewhere, which looks almost exactly like Med Europe — except for the strip mall architecture that clutters the approaches to just about everywhere in the States. Oh, and the thing we like best about Mexico — comida — is pretty damn good and widely available in So Cal.

    I used the notion of genetic geography in the opening scene of my last novel (Paul Collins). There seems no other way to explain the impact of immediate affinity for place. How you were gobsmacked by Mexico, while to me it’s at best a nice enough place for a holiday.

    Of course, we are people with choices. A lot of people don’t have realistic options when it comes to where they live. We have traveled over much of the world, so discovering a place-fit was a choice, not stuck-ness. I know many people who don’t have the reasonable ability to travel at all — they are where they are: the end. At least, in our case, we could amble around and see how places felt. I include you in that we.

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