As I write this, I’m sitting on a hotel bed in San Miguel de Allende on the eve of a writing / photography workshop that my dear friend Andrea Scher and I are hosting this week. This might be our 10th workshop in San Miguel in the last five years.
Some of the ladies we flew in with – all old friends of ours – have taken to the cobblestones to find dinner. I stayed back because I’m one of those introvert / extroverts who, after a long day of wandering the city as a tribe of gals, has come back to my spot of quiet to listen to music and write. It’s actually not so very quiet; There are loud explosions going off every few minutes, which our friend Erin says is courtesy of the church strongly reminding people to get their booty to the pews in the morning.
Why do I love that so much? I think I like the tension of priests setting off explosions. There’s something very unabashed about that. It’s nervy, you know? Or maybe it’s just their god shouting from the heavens in a way these people can hear.
I also like the half glass of wine I swiped from an art opening in the courtyard of the hotel this evening as I headed to my room. I like that as much as I like knowing that inside of the Mojiangas – the 18-foot tall puppets that parade through town – are overheated, sticky teenage boys glancing at their watches waiting for their shifts to end.
I have a soft spot for those young men as they wander through the cobblestone streets of town, stopping in front of the Parroquia de San Miguel – the great church in el Centro – and which is always crowded with tourists from Mexico City taking selfies. It’s a funny scene, and sometimes sad – all those people taking pictures of themselves now for a future time when they’ll want to remember what happiness felt like.
I love the way the boys teeter in their bride and groom puppet costumes, bending down to let the tourists touch them. This little bit of magic. This joy. The first time I saw them a number of years ago, I followed them for blocks and blocks in the moonlight, just wanting to catch the magic in their wake.
That’s why Andrea and I come back to San Miguel, to remember the aliveness in us which has dulled or that we’ve forgotten. That’s how it happens; routine can rub the spark from our lives. Our light gets a little more dimmed and we forget there’s a whole spectrum out there available to us.
That’s why we write and we wander, take pictures, gather in groups to share what we’ve seen. We need these practices in our lives to help us remember.
And even as I sit here in my darkening room alone, explosions going off around me, the glass of wine long gone, I know I’m in the wake of something beautiful. It’s so small. I have nothing big to report; I’m not in love. The book I’m writing could take me years and years to write. I spend much of my time working, I still haven’t made peace with my body, and I’m only beginning at 63 to surrender my perfectionism. I’m tentative about intimacy and what it means to let people in, but here I am alone in an old bordello turned hotel, listening to fireworks set off by priests, a couple speaking loudly in the room below mine – later Andrea will tell me that their lovemaking kept her awake. There’s a dog barking in the alley next door. It’s nothing, it’s everything, it’s where I begin.
Listen to Laurie read the piece.
A special invite … if you’d like to wake up your aliveness and practice with us, we welcome you to join one of our Small Group Wild Writing Classes starting the first week of April. It begins on the page, like it did tonight when I sat down to write to you, and then we take it into our lives, as I will now.