This year I have fostered the perhaps unhealthy habit of moving on when I don’t know what to do with myself, or say or do some number of wrong or embarrassing things. These things happen on a daily basis here. But I’ve paid a month of rent (until mid November), and it is probably good to start practicing not indulging this inclination anyway. Some days I enjoy the people I’m with and have plenty to do and feel like I’m learning and making improvements in my ability to converse, and others I am just lonely and awkwardly stalling through the day, hoping no one asks me much.
I have definitely made progress in my ability to exist verbally. Situations where I expect people to talk to me and want responses are no longer so scary, I can navigate the market and restaurants and ask for things even if I don’t know they exist and walk into spaces that I don’t totally know what to expect in with little apprehension. I can have conversations with patient people, and I can, with a combination of pointing, gesturing, and words, (often effectively) teach some bike things in the shop I have been volunteering in.
It is important for me to remember that I asked to be lonely. That I’ve left everyone who has ever tried to care about me. It is all well and good to feel a little jealous of stable people, but it is good to be practical, too, and thus far I’ve shown no inclination towards existing happily as a stable, committed person. It is different to stay in one place for a while without intending to stay long term- I can get to know people much more than if I am just passing through for a few days, but it is still inherently temporary. I am past being new and exciting and having everything explained to me, but I haven´t been here long enough to totally understand everything happening around me. That said, it is getting easier.Last weekend a bunch of us went to Leon for the Congreso Nacional de Ciclismo Urbano. There were maybe 40 of us? which is enough to charter a bus, which met us in a convenient place and dropped us where we wanted to be, and which we shoved all our bikes into the storage area of, early on a wet Friday morning. Congreso is a bit more formal than Bike!Bike! with a string of presentations all day in the auditorium of a university, it largely didn’t feel so participatory (to me). There was also sometimes a person teaching some bike techniques, tricks, self defense etc, outside. And lots of group rides and parties. I was a bit nervous about how much I’d be able to understand, which was well founded, but I talked to some new people, and learned some things, and left Jalisco.
I’ve been thinking a bit about the question, what is place? Why don’t I feel attached to anywhere? How do I travel and meet people in new places and not just feel less and less like I belong anywhere? What does it mean to be somewhere anyway? How do you respect tradition and character while working for change? And who am I to think I understand how things should change anyway? A place is not the same for everyone existing in it. A place is the land and climate, the layout, structure, the rules-legal and social- and how they are regarded, it is the people there now and the people who existed before, and the way change happens there. It is probably a lot more than that.
And maybe occasionally I remember that I can probably go anywhere and do anything and if I want to at some point be settled in a place and build a thing to care about it would be ok to start thinking about what that could look like. But for now, I think I’m getting towards time to move on and trying to plan my escape route.