A couple of Fridays ago, we went to the Sol Collective in Sacramento (http://solcollective.wix.com/solcollective). Because it is almost Dia de los Muertos (11/1 and 11/2), they had an altar remembering some of our dearly departed community members.
Jose Montoya, a local poet passed in September. It was strange to see him on the altar, still in the audience with the rest of us.
I head to Mexico City on Thursday to experience Day of the Dead, to remember my father, my mentors, my ancestors, those who taught me how to celebrate what I have.
The neighborhood is decorated for Halloween. The lawn is piled with leaves and the weather is cooling off enough for little people to want to climb into cozy costumes and stroll the streets–as if they haven’t been talking about this Halloween since the last one.
One of my nephews used to give the same answer for future occupation and Halloween costume: Ninja. Apparently he’s still in training; he hasn’t earned his star…yet.
My favorite Halloween was — every single one. One year I was Elvira. Another I was a gypsy, a pirate, a clown, a Native American girl with a chamois-soft fringe dress.
Mom tried several times, starting at sixth grade, to let me know trick-or-treating was unbecoming for someone my height and age. I could still wear a costume, but I’d have to find something else to do in it.
Our friends, the Gweedos, participated in the Down and Dirty Mud Run in Folsom, CA. M and I attended as spectators. It was a bizarre scene that sort of reminded me of the Bank Holiday/Carnival in Knotting Hill where the revelers were covered in milk chocolate.
This was not milk chocolate at all.
Standing in the warm October afternoon air, we celebrated the fact that the Gweedos, hearts pounding in their ears, cscaled walls and scrambled through gravelly mud to cross the finish line. As we listened to the details of the adventure, I watched the mud dry on the field of folks around me. Most were we’re euphoric in the face of their accomplishments and, at the same time, horrified by all of the places mud can seep.
Seeing this firsthand made me grateful to be dry and clean.
Sitting in the waiting room of the surgery center of Kaiser this afternoon, I noticed that I could not identify the sole man sitting across from me. His phone was in his face the whole thirty-three minutes I was (as patiently as possible, but I had to be somewhere by 5:30) waiting.
Another man came about ten minutes into my stay; he loudly announced that he’d been informed that he needed to have surgery immediately. I tuned in, listening as intently as possible. Nothing. I still don’t know what he was in for, but this trying to listen was a good distraction for my increasing impatience.
Putting the deaf in defeated, I thumbed through my phone, reading an article or two from Slate and responding to a couple of emails before strolling through the sixty-seven photos I had taken since Thursday: a lot of Halloween lawn decorations, a bunny rearing up on the lawn, a Dia de Los Muertos altar, Christmas stuff I stumbled into on a trip to Lowe’s, and (now, number sixty-eight) my practically patient toes.
Once, I pulled up to my house after a too-long day at school, and I saw two bunnies in the lavender growing in the park strip opposite my house. I was super tired and it was late, and I knew I was imagining bunnies.
I don’t usually imagine bunnies when I am tired, but fewer than four years ago, before my campus started developing and when I was still teaching until after ten pm, there were rabbits. We must’ve had a warren of them, and I would watch them lope and graze across our grass on cold nights as I headed to my car.
I wasn’t imagining rabbits. There really are loose bunnies in my neighborhood.
In fact, this morning as I was hiking in pursuit of caffeine, the brown one either:
1. Stopped grazing to pose for a photo.
2. Stood suddenly and pretended to be a statue.
Last week one of the artisans I met in Oaxaca, S-, came to Sacramento to share his alebrijes, woodcarving. One morning, we went to a Mexican grocery store in my neighborhood to pick up a quick breakfast on the way to school.
The music blaring over the top of the store’s commotion was in Spanish (and so was most of our conversation).
S- mentioned that there is always music in the supermarkets in Oaxaca. And, we both had to laugh as I added that usually the music is English, especially at Christmas time.
Although some places already have Christmas up for sale, the incessant Christmas clamor hasn’t arrived here quite yet.
I like knowing the names of the animals in the neighborhood, and when I don’t know their names– I make them up. Simon, the cat, trots when I call out Seee-moan. He will throw himself on the walkway for pets all over.
By contrast, Sparky’s name is not Sparky. Although I call out these two syllables to him four days out of the week, he does not recognize the noise. No matter what I call him, Sparky just wants me to toss a squeaky toy or a pinecone into his yard or pretend as though I could race him along his fence line.
My names aren’t creative; they’re mostly just labels. The orange cat is Pumpkin. The white bunny is Fluffy.
And, the names for the people, I have those, too.