Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm Thinking of Going Back

A few months ago, I was given a gift - one that allowed me to travel to sunny, dusty, hot, wonderful Mexico, Arizona, and El Paso, TX, places I would gladly visit again, if I had the opportunity.

Let me give you a little background first. See, I spent the summer of 1993 at Gettysburg College participating in summer theater. There are a few of us from that summer spent in one of the nation's most historic locations who are now friends on Facebook.

Months ago, one of them, Molly, would occasionally have a status update that caught my curiosity. She was on a journey that sounded so fantastic, I desperately wanted to participate, too.

However, it wasn't a physical journey; she was actually taking a trip through an amazing book called The Hummingbird's Daughter, written by Luis Alberto Urrea. Her mom had read this book, enjoyed it, and passed it along, sure that she would also enjoy it. 

When she'd post "Hummingbird" related status updates, I would think, Hmmm, I'm not sure what she's talking about exactly, but it sounds like I want to be a part of it, too. So one day I asked her what she was reading, and finally I had both the title and author's name.

She also said that while she was in the midst of reading it, she thought of me, absolutely positive that I would become as engrossed in the book as she'd been. Partly because of the characters' cultures, their language, and possibly the locations . . . if I remember correctly, these were some of the reasons she thought of me and why she thought I'd get into the book.

Excited about reading a book someone thought I'd love, I promptly went online to see if my local library had it. I was so disappointed when I found out they did not. But I could do an inter-library loan. Sure, it would cost some money and take an undisclosed amount of time before I received it, but there was hope that, before 2009 was ushered into the history books, I'd have a copy to read.

Fortunately for me, I'd made a comment on Facebook about having to wait for this book that Molly enjoyed so tremendously. She promised me that she'd send me her copy, as she'd recently finished reading it. So I waited, anxiously.

Finally, I received it!

And I eagerly jumped into it. For the next few weeks, I was intertwined with these characters - Teresita, Don Tomás, Huila, Don Lauro . . . I was thoroughly enjoying being a part of their lives.

Now, I'm not going to talk about specific details of the book itself, but rather, the thoughts and memories it evoked in me. There was something absolutely magic about it, and not necessarily just the mysticism involved in the storyline itself. I mean something else.

For example, I'd read about what they ate for breakfast . . . the warmed tortillas, the huevos con chorizo, beans . . . and I was transported back to my grandmother's kitchen in El Paso, TX. I remembered the smells - that fabulous, delicious scent filling the house with the hope that our delectable breakfast would be ready soon.

I remembered a discussion in the book about flour tortillas versus corn tortillas, and I thought about how I love flour tortillas, warmed, slightly toasty, with huevos con chorizo . . . and prefer the corn variety with my Oma's refried beans.

This food, this Mexican food that I equate with my grandmother's cooking, her home, her endless hospitality - this food is something I always find delicious (if prepared properly - none of that fake Tex-Mex they TRY to pass off as "Mexican food"). And it was something I craved when I was pregnant with Olivia. It makes me miss my home in El Paso with my grandparents, my homes in Arizona and New Mexico, the lands of turquoise, hot, dry heat, and natural beauty. 

There was talk in the book about javelinas, coyotes, arroyos, paloverde trees, and I was immediately back in Tucson, AZ, where I was stationed for two years. While living in the great state of Arizona, I'd occasionally see coyotes in an arroyo while on a  trail ride with Cotton, my Appendix Quarter Horse; once in a while, I'd see them if I were driving somewhere at dawn or dusk. They seemed to come out in packs in the twilight hours. And I'd see javelinas on the rare chance I had the opportunity to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

So many other things in the book seemed so real as I read through page after page. One night, I even dreamed I was in a dream-scene from the book! Now that was fun!

And this is what made this book so magical, so wonderful to me. It was a literary trip to lands that I love, the Southwest, my onetime home, and to Mexico, a place I've visited long ago, but would gladly visit again.

I read this book, sent to me after Molly finished it, on the promise I'd pass it along to someone else who wanted to read it. I did that; I loaned it to my Mom. However, she had none of the magical experiences I had with it. She has since finished it and given it back to me.

And because I loved the magic of this book, and it's once again in my possession, I'm thinking about going on it's adventure again. Maybe not too soon, but maybe around springtime. Just maybe.


varunner said...

Oh wow, this definitely makes me want to return to the southwest too! I miss it so much, particularly in FEBRUARY (ARG!)
I do a thing on my blog on Fridays about memories if you ever want to join in. Each week is a different theme. Also, I have a book I could send you if you're interested (that'll make you miss the SW even more).

Andrew said...

Makes me miss Tucson and El Paso, too. Oma is a great cook, and I also miss eating well at her house.

That book really captured you, didn't it?

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