Friday, November 9, 2018

When spirits flood the night, Day of the Dead in Mexico


              John Coltrane, Love Supreme is playing on the CD player he bought at the Thrift Store in East Northport, it was a gift he wanted to give himself for months.  The five-dollar investment is a good one since listening to the whole album while writing was something he would do at his parent’s house – last year.  The music and the writing was his escape, his refuge.  Tonight is not that much different than the other nights last year when he wrote.
              His youngest is not talking to him, needs some space so he gives his baby as much space as she needs.  The other children are talking to him and his ex his reassuring them, he is not abandoning them. Not in the slightest, but it is difficult for the youngest, although she is fifteen - this is all new and everything new will be new and she, like the rest of the family will need to process the divorce.  Not that it will get easier, it will become acceptable like a limp. 
              The CD skipped for a second and maybe the five bucks was not a great bargain after all, but the radio works and there is a tape player. 
              The younger ones are in a play tonight and he is in his room, keeping the requested distance and he is alright at this time. 
              The CD skipped again, and now John Coltrane is chanting, Love Supreme.
              He closes his eyes and listens to the drums, rim shots, the piano, McCoy Tyner and the bass and the full sound fills in the empty spaces.
              Martin listens to the wind outside.  Meli is at the movies with a friend, she looked beautiful when she Face timed him, he told her so.
              Last Friday, they were together in Taxco, Mexico celebrating Day of the Dead.  Colorful banners swayed in the night breezes and it began to rain lightly which was a rarity, one of the taxi drivers explained to Meli.  Martin thought it had to do with him, being one of the few gringos in the town.  He noticed a few others and wanted to see if they were like him, a lean middle aged man walking and kissing a woman who was decades younger than he was, but he did not linger too long on the thought since age was something he accepted instead of letting it crack the joy in their relationship.  It was a thought and he let it pass.
               She is the happiest person in the world and he has not laughed as much with anyone.
              Meli wanted to get her face painted and she urged him to do it, this could be the only time he celebrated Day of the Dead, and he should get it done.  He reluctantly agreed and in a few minutes found himself sitting on a bench as a high school girl applied white cream and powder and then black onto his face.  Meli reached out and they held hands as the girls talked to one another about an ex-boyfriend, the one putting makeup on him said he was with someone new, but at least she wore his school jacket before his new girlfriend.  Meli explained what they were talking about. 
              “Instead of thinking about him, you should be focused on your math.”
              “Yeah right.”
              He was done in five minutes, eyed the armed police in the square with some concerns especially since they carried loaded machine guns and there were a lot of them off to one corner of the square.  Some women were talking to them as slowly they sipped their Coke bottles.  
              It began to rain harder and yet they walked around the village, holding hands and taking selfies.  They spoke to her mother and father, and it looked like they’d just woke up her old man, who barely said a word to Martin.
              “Honey, we should go to the cemetery, it’s part of the tradition.  There’s a fair there and music and you can how the families celebrate their loved ones.” 
              Visiting a cemetery did not appeal to Martin in the slightest, he recalled the small cemeteries outside the villages in Guatemala, they were barren, the crypts or the brick forms which contained the bones let in the light of the day and he did not want to go there at night, visions of rats crawling out of the dark spaces were creeping him out.
              “I don’t know.”
              “Honey, this could be your only time to celebrate, Day of the Dead,” she said and smiled at him with her made-up face and he smiled back.
              “Well, ok, whatever you say.”
              “It will be fun, you will see.”
              Taxco is the city where VW Beetles are everywhere, the taxi drivers pulled out the front passenger seat, the passenger door has a cord attached to it, so the driver can pull the door shut after the passenger leaves.  There is normally a crucifix dangling from the rear view mirror, the back seat could be in good shape or not.  The ceiling sometimes droops down at times on his head.  The experienced drivers take off, beeping before every blind spot, racing down hills, through narrow roads where passengers better walk in single file or they will get hit…dogs dart out and back and if the traffic is slow will be nudged out of the way by a careless bumper.
              They made it to the cemetery and paid the driver and stepped out.  Martin saw a drunk woman laughing loudly.  It was a fair.  He felt out of the place, not only being a gringo in the town, but the tallest in the crowd and ready to call it a night. 
              “Honey, over here.”
              The place was a muddy mess. It was a wet fair where beer was abundant.  There were rides, music and games and they walked up a step, past some vendors who were selling food just before the gates to the cemetery.  Colored lights bounced off the bano and they we walked into the silent darkness.
              His breathing was calm.  They walked up a narrow lane past the lit chambers, the glass enclosures, the pictures, when they were living and able to smile for the camera, and now alas their families waited in this world with patience.
              Filling the night with folk songs they walked and greeted the others and scared the children who thought they were the dead. 
              Kissing in the light rain…the night welcomed them…




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