Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It has been an interesting week and a half. The weekend before last Jon and I happened to have hosted a pro-Obama (?) anti war (?) demonstration down at the center. The entire concept seemed superfluous and nonsensical, but the people were happy. They were marching to 30th Street Station to see Obama off on his Inauguration train ride to Washington.

While we never got close to the station, nor saw Obama, I felt that in some way I was part of the whole thing. The marchers were surrounded by civil affairs police who told me of the plans to keep the people away from the station and a little of the security measures; it made me feel a part of it all.

However, that wasn’t really part of the story; After the protesters left the center, we were free to go. We decided to go back towards home and go out to lunch; we chose to go to Norma’s. Norma’s is a Lebanese restaurant, I love their Hariarra soup, it was freezing and the idea of a steaming bowl of soup and some hot mint tea sounds wonderful and it was. We were seated in the window and from there I had a view of the large Asian market down the block. There were drummers and people dressed in red and white. The waiter saw me looking and told us that it was Chinese New Year, which I had forgotten and they were having celebrations all week.

We finished our soup and went to the market to see what was happening. As we approached the market there was a great amount of noise from all the drumming, plus there were cymbals crashing and flutes fluting; it was quite the tumult. Of course we dove right in.

Inside there were two large Chinese dragons going up and down the aisle accompanied by several small children dragons, leading them was a tall man with a mask that one side of the frightening face was black and the other was salmon colored. Following the dragons were the flutes and a very large drum that one person pulled and another person pounded on.

Up and down the aisle they went frightening all the bad luck accumulated through the past year away, cleaning the grocery store to accept all the good luck coming their way. They made several trips around the store.

It was fabulous.

The next day we went to Barnegat Lighthouse which I described in another post. They was a day of such peace. It was a simple day and utter quiet. I will remember it for the quiet.

Tuesday was the Inauguration which was exciting and intriguing; a day of hope and renewal. However, it is also the day that I got a text message from Sybil saying that my father was in the hospital in Oaxaca and that I needed to come.

Very early the next morning I found myself on a plane to Charlotte, NC with a short layover on a flight to Mexico City which had a long layover awaiting my flight into Oaxaca. I arrived at the hotel at 5:00 PM.

As I am checking into the hotel, here comes my father walking through the door of the hotel! He looked thin, but he looked healthy. I think that he is having panic attacks. He is afraid to die and clinging to his life. I will write more on that at another time, but he was okay. Sybil panicked and called me prematurely. She was now very ill. She had food poisoning and was totally incapacitated.

So, here I am in Mexico to take care of my father, but now I am caring for a total stranger. Very strange to see the resentment I feel at the situation, but Sybil really needed help.

The next morning, she realized she needed to go to the hospital and I went with her. They kept her for two days. I was her translator, which is funny because I don’t speak German or Spanish, but I understand enough to make myself understood and to understand.

All the while, I am looking at the resentment that I am feeling, knowing that the care of my father is on my shoulders, caring for Sybil and that I am going to miss at least on day of school in New York. I didn’t like what I saw. I am suppose to be of service as a minister, but I was completely annoyed.

My father was so happy that I was there. I was happy too. I made him feel better with my presence and I made him see that there really wasn’t anything wrong with him, he was just feeling a little out of his element and that he can come home any time he feels like he doesn’t want to be there any longer. Carmen, the concierge assured me he would help him change his flight any time he wanted. All this made him feel back in control and anyway, he loves Oaxaca. Oaxaca is a lovely place. The weather is warm, the sun is bright, what’s not to love?

I met two women, both named Mary. The two Marys and I shopped. The live there a few months out of the year and they knew all the best place to buy junk. I had so much fun with them. The are both retired, one is in her late sixties and the other is in her seventies. Both have a lot of energy and will walk anywhere for a pair of earrings. They are acquaintances of my father. Oaxaca has a large American following, my father among them that go every year and through the years they build friendships and meet every year.

At night there is a gathering in the zocolo to rehash the day’s events. It was very pleasant sitting with them and enjoying the bantering and a coke. My first evening was very cold, but the second evening was warm and balmy. I could have sat there all my days.

My father didn’t want to come home with me. He wanted to stay with Sybil, which I understand, but I needed to get back to make it to school and Jon and I had a few days planned in New York the following week and I didn’t want to miss out on that, so I decided to leave on Saturday.
Friday night the zocolo crowd took me out for a farewell dinner at a place called LaRed, a little seafood place that is for the locals. They all love it. I got sick.

I got so sick that traveling home the next day was an agony and a blur. I have never been so miserable in all my life. Thank God, for golf carts in airports; I would still be wandering around Houston. I don’t remember much of the flights back, I slept most of the way. When I finally arrived home thirteen hours later, I crawled into bed and didn’t get up for twelve more.

I missed school.

My friends from school called me at lunch time and made me feel missed, but my heart ached to be there.

Jon and I came to New York yesterday and had dinner with Victor at a wonderful sushi restaurant on the Upper East Side. I am feeling better, but I am definitely not 100%, I am hoping in the morning I will feel energetic and my old self again.

It has been an interesting ten days or so filled with cultural diversity; the American Inauguration, Lebanese, the Chinese New Year, Mexico, the solitude of the seashore in winter, sunny Mexico and now New York.

It was been interesting.

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