Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mi día de acción de gracias

Allow me to set the scene: in the home stretch of my stint in Querétaro , I have been afflicted with a severe case of senioritis. I have low motivation to do anything, whether work or social or shopping or whatever, and the dumb little things are bugging me, like my local Oxxo on the corner being completely out of coffee at 7:30 this morning (what?!)  Let alone the more annoying stuff, like buses not stopping to pick up passengers at the bus stop, which is just a thing they (fail to) do sometimes, or even the bus stopping at the bus stop because it is at a red light, but still refusing to open the door for passengers, as happened today. Because that, my friends, is the horrible logic of the Querétaro city bus system sometimes. Add to this my so-close-I-can-taste-it flight, and I am just a recipe for grumpiness and "get-me-the-heck-out-of-here!" MAJOR senioritis.

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., but here in Mexico it was another Thursday and I headed off to my morning ritual. In the late morning, I had a conversation with a lovely friend in which we both lamented a few frustrations and I mentioned that in my senioritis/low motivation/high irritation state of mind it is probably better if I just don't say anything at all, as Thumper's mother would advise. From there, I headed to the bus stop, with Songs--->Play All on my MP3 player, listening to whatever was next in alphabetical order. I was in the Ds. As I approached the bus stop on the sunny sidewalk, I listened to Indigo Girls' "Deconstruction." Although the song reflects on a relationship, it has some nicely constructed lyrics that make a person think about ALL the things that make up her life, lyrics such as:

As we sat stuck, I could hear the trash truck
Making its way through the neighborhood,

Picking up the thrown out, different from house to house -- 
We get to decide what we think is no good.
We're sculpted from youth; the chipping away makes me weary
And as for the truth, it seems like we just pick a theory
And it's the one that justifies our daily lives...
                 --lyrics by the one and only Emily Saliers

So, that was the slightly self-indulgent, highly contemplative mood I was in when the bus came. I relaxed to the next song, letting the music of Enya's "Deora Ar Mo Chroi" wash over me (not really knowing what her lyrics were saying because it's one of her Irish language songs), and so the wistful mental stage was set for Concrete Blonde's cover of Woody Guthrie's protest song "Deportee." 

Written by Guthrie, popularized by Pete Seeger, and covered by many, "Deportee" talks about a small plane crash in 1948 in Los Gatos canyon, near Fresno, in which 28 migrant workers who were being flown to Mexico died. The news reports apparently named the U.S. flight crew but did not mention the workers' names, dismissively noting that those passengers were just deportees. (Read more here if you like Wikipedia.)

I rode the bus down Constituyentes, thinking about being in Mexico, and thinking about how all of my peeps back in the U.S. of A. were already gathering with family and friends, munching on appetizers, preparing turkey and potatoes and vegetables, a bountiful spread, a cornucopia. Everyone would be ready to eat the plentiful harvest, food likely gathered from the earth by the hands of migrant workers who probably won't be thanked on this Thanksgiving day. Concrete Blonde sang Guthrie's words:

Well, some are illegal and some are not wanted
Our contract is out and we've got to move on
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves
Adios a mi Juan, adios Rosalita, 
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria

You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane
And all they will call you will be deportees...

I knew that when I got back to my apartment I would log on to Facebook and see thankful status updates, and pictures of beautifully set tables, and the occasional plea to not spoil this day by shopping or, as we call it now, "door-busting." I would think about everyone enjoying a day of warmth and tradition and gratitude. I would grapple with thoughts about the celebration of an idea -- a mythical but inspiring feast, a feast of sharing, a feast in which the immigrants were welcomed and helped to survive in their new land.

I felt small. I felt alone. I also felt suddenly grateful in yet another new way to be able to look around and see and know Mexico -- even when I'm sick of being here and the bus driver infuriates me and the Oxxo runs out of coffee (seriously). I offered my thanks to the universe that I could know that Mexico is history and mountains, highways and industrial parks, museums and cathedrals, poetry and folklore, Nezahualcóyotl and Fuentes and Kahlo, fashion and magazines and film, guitar strumming at parties, jukeboxes, comida corrida, the weird bird that squawks outside my apartment window, and so much more. Even at the end of senior year, one still has lessons to learn and things to think about, but the more important question is how to share one's knowledge with the big, wide world.

Normally, my Guthrie Thanksgiving song is Arlo's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," but this year, I'm all about his father's song instead. I don't have a video of that Concrete Blonde version to share, but here are the Highwaymen:

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