Storm alert: All points bulletin. High anxiety winds precipitate storm of indeterminate velocity and duration. Woman in full state of panic attack. Coordinates unknown. Situation critical. Last seen headed toward the deep end. Take cover.
For no identifiable reason. At least, none I can put my finger on.
Early morning. The phone rang. One of my readers called to wish me well; she showered me with words of encouragement, praised my courage, asked me questions. I bluffed my way through the conversation, especially the one itty bitty question for which I had no real knowledge to answer. At the end of the conversation I felt quite smug.
I enjoyed a normal morning, puttered around my boxes, straightened this, tossed that. Tried on all four bathing suits to see if they still fit. I don’t even swim. I had purchased three of the suits on different trips over the years when I forgot to pack one. I know. Nobody flies to coastal Mexico without a bathing suit. Shrugged and decided to take all of them.
Ate breakfast. Phoned the phone company about my defective service. Read four newspapers. Scanned my three-page list of last minute things to do before I move.
Something nagged at me — some little detail. Some question plagued me. I had talked with ex-pats, explored online, official and unofficial websites, read books, out-of-date and recent.
Without conscious thought I found myself in front of my computer, reading and re-reading, searching articles about immigration. I cannot say I found anything new. If anything, I found an updated report on new immigration laws to be encouraging. Yet, everything I read, I read with dark glasses. What yesterday made me feel jubilant, today skidded me into the slough of despond.
OK, so maybe that is not totally truthful. It might have been such a silly thing that threw me into a tailspin.
You know the herbs I had so carefully cultivated in my backyard bird-sanctuary herb garden, the ones I dried myself and stored in colorful and whimsical glass jars. The ones I had packed and then re-packed. I can’t take them.
Nothing that comes from seeds or nuts can cross the border.
This paragraph followed the paragraph about no guns in the “what not to take” section with a neat reminder that a bullet could land one’s jolly bottom on a jail cot for an indeterminate stay. I actually giggled. I own neither gun nor bullet. I do have a genuine faux antique vase made from a brass shell casing, cannon sized, I Baught outside a lovely old cathedral in the mountains. It stays.
So I cannot take my herbs or spices. Big deal. But why does my head feel like a ping-pong table with six simultaneous games? Could it possibly be the fine print about a complete inventory of each packed box, in triplicate? Could it be the realization that I have to open, scrutinize, itemize and repack every single box? Itemized in both English and Spanish. I swear, I never read that fine, fine, fine print previously. The good news is that I’ll know the Spanish name for everything I own.
Ah, well. Better here than at the border crossing, out on the asphalt, under 118 degrees of unclouded sunshine, scrutinized by unsmiling armed guards who don’t see any humor in the situation.
I’ll do it, of course. I will. I’ll open each box, discard anything I think might be the slightest bit questionable, seedy or nutty. I’ll be the only thing both seedy and nutty. I will create an itemized inventory to be the envy of any bean counter. If I wear to shreds both my English-to-Spanish dictionaries, small price to pay. And if I spite myself, well, I’ve done that before.
Meanwhile, I’m going to bed, pull the covers over my head and have a pity party for one. I don’t care if it is mid-afternoon. Don’t wake me. I’m not getting up until I weather this storm. Don’t bother to call. Don’t bring chicken soup. There is no comfort, hot or cold. Oh, I’ll get over it.
Or maybe I’ll just move to Jordan. You know, between Mosby and Brockway. There are similarities to Mexico. It is almost a foreign country. Cultural differences are huge. I don’t speak the language. I’ll be as much a gringo in one place as another. But I won’t have to repack my boxes.
(Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High School in 1963 and left for good. She finds, upon her return, that things are a little diffeent. Keep in touch with her at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com.)