Monday, January 03, 2011

So good and loud

The first time I went to Ecuador, they served shrimp on the plane. Ceviche for everyone, and glasses of champagne. I thought that flying was the most glamorous thing in the entire world. The stewardesses wore lipstick and tall heels and kept patting me on the head, saying things in rapidfire Spanish. The plane swung to the right and I saw my first glimpse of Guayaquil: the streets were on fire. I heard gunfire and bombs. No one seemed fazed.
.
I got out of the plane and the hot muggy air wrapped us up like a blanket. We got into a car and drove through the city, so fast, so fast, fires in every intersection. I hadn't seen enough action movies to worry that the car might explode, but I should have. We eventually got to my aunt's house, where all the relatives and neighbors waited. My mom nodded at me to start the proper greetings. Kisses on the right cheek, mucho gusto, mucho gusto. They slapped me on the butt and told me how cute I was; they grabbed my chin and pulled my face back and forth, trying out different angles, telling me how much I looked like my mom. Pero ve eso.
.
The fires died down. Everyone was dancing, stepping and swishing to rhythms that Free Methodists can't even clap to. I'm sure we went to bed but I don't remember that at all.
.
I found out a few weeks later that it wasn't a war zone we had flown into but a celebration. Everyone was burning effigies of the old year; stuffed dummies loaded full of firecrackers, then stacked in heaps and lit on fire. A triumphant goodbye: see you never, pass around the whiskey.
.
That was twenty years ago. Frigid hands holding sparklers, feet running through the snow, lighting the old man with a bottle rocket after the ball dropped on TV. We put in funk and danced in the living room; not the same but not half bad.
.
Twenty times that I can remember looking at the new year as if it were a promise. Resolutions made, broken, made again. Time chopped up neatly to look back on, to look forward to. So nice and tidy. One single moment where we vow that this year, we'll ride life like a bull, not run from its stampede.
.
Raise a glass, light a match. This will be a good year, I can tell.

1 comment:

mark and monsita! said...

that was great enttrance we made that year, dodging the fires and the firecrackers....we should do it again some time!