magazine / revista


Happy New Year
Happy New Year
a brief memoir

Forty years and one week ago I arrived in Mexico for my first visit. Five years and five weeks ago I arrived in San Miguel to live. Yesterday I fell off my bicycle.

I was coming back from the country, San Miguel Viejo. Having picked up a cactus spine, my front tire was very low on air. I was going very slowly, in the extra lane outside the rotary below the Libremiento, when I turned the wheel and the deflated rubber kind of stuck to the road and down I went. Two cars stopped and their drivers came over to make sure I was okay. I had banged my left knee on the road and bruised my right calf where it fell across the bicycle. If need be I could hail a cab. Thanking the drivers profusely I waved them off, then remounted, rolled into the gas station on the corner, filled the tire and road home, just a bit the worse for wear.

The strangest thing was not understanding what had happened, why I had fallen, that the deflated tire had failed to respond when the handlebars and wheel rim had turned. It wasn't until hours later as I was getting into bed that I got it. Until then I felt the victim of an inexplicable occurrence, vulnerable, which is not what you need when you are riding a bicycle around this town.

Five weeks after I moved to San Miguel my mother died. Right now, as I write this, on the shelf across from the desk where I sit, the memorial candle marking the anniversary of her death burns, a twenty-four hour devotional candle in a glass.

There was that experiment with orangutans, where youngsters were separated from their mothers. Some were kept together in a cage. They suffered, but not too badly from the lack of maternal affection. Others were kept alone in a cage with a standing stuffed doll to which they could cling. These guys didn't do so well. Yet others were kept alone in a cage without a doll. My childhood experience falls somewhere between the second and third group.

Twenty years ago I confronted my mother, “You didn't touch us enough when we were kids.” I have never seen her look more outraged. But a day or two later she tearfully confessed, “I know I didn't touch you enough when you were young, but that does not mean I didn't love you.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what it means to the baby and young child.

The strangest thing was not understanding what had happened, back then when I was a wee thing or in the decades that followed. I kept inarticulately recreating the suffering of my primal experience, kept being the victim of inexplicable emotional occurrences. And even for the last twenty years, even after achieving intellectual clarity, the emotional bangs and bruises still kept me vulnerable. Remarkably I find myself now, just recently, just a bit the worse for wear, able to forgive my mother and my self.

Today I walked the bicycle the few blocks over to the auto body repair area in front of the church here in San Antonio. They left off spraying the taxi green long enough to fill my tire. I then rode, quickly, in case the tire was deflating rapidly, over to the bicycle store where they patched it up and repaired the gears which have been badly out of order for some time. I even bought a small air pump that I took with me into the country on my ride this afternoon, because I know, eventually, there will be another cactus spine.

My mother's memorial candle yet burns brightly before me, the large flame dancing restlessly in the bottom third of its glass, my personal fireworks. It will burn until I go to bed and run out of wax hours later while I am dreaming. It marks an anniversary, an end and a beginning, a new year.

Please keep your tires inflated, be grateful for the people who stop to help when you fall and enjoy the ride.

Happy New Year.
Viva Mexico.


Dr David was licensed in the US as a naturopathic doctor for almost a quarter century. He has been publishing Lokkal (formerly San Miguel Events) for 4 years, 9 months and a few weeks.

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