Saturday, December 28, 2013

Becoming a Local

Becoming a Local
            Several Montana friends have asked me, please, to not comment about the weather while I’m down in this southern sunny clime. That seems a reasonable request to me since you, my friends, on the High Line are currently experiencing the annual return of the Ice Age. 

            It has always struck me that weather in Montana has a separate and distinct personality,  unpredictable in mood, even schizophrenic, of which one does well to be wary. Living up north, I was constantly on the look-out for its next meteorological move, almost afraid to open the door to see which mood was on my step. 

            In comparison, weather here seems actually boring, every day the same. Don’t worry. Be happy. The sun shines. The breeze wafts tenderly off the ocean. When it rains, the sky falls. Fifteen minutes later the sidewalks are dry. What’s to comment? (Remind me of this when the hurricane winds batter the city and/or in August when the mercury rises to 116 degrees Fahrenheit.) 

            Meanwhile I promise to keep my weather comments to a bare minimum. I have been told in the past that I have a tendency to gloat, an ugly quality, especially from your best friend whom you love dearly. I argued that I don’t gloat. I am eager to share my experiences. 

But, in respect, I will not mention that I check the Havre Daily forecast with a hint of glee. That would be rude of me. 

Now that I am practically a “local”, I feel competent to give advice about what to bring when you come visit. 

            Money, four cotton tops, four shorts, sandals and a pair of tennis shoes, underwear and a toothbrush. That about says it all. I presume you will wear one set of these items. That means the rest fits in a backpack with room to add a few small items I might request that I cannot find in Mazatlan. You will bring more, of course, probably lug a suitcase along, but it is unnecessary and you won’t wear more than those four cotton tops. 

            If you want your phone to work, add Mexico to your plan before you arrive. Then unless you want a four thousand dollar bill, hide the phone. 

            Lupe bought me a Mexican phone from Moviestar. Sounds exotic, does it not!  It’s just another phone company. He chose that one because they assured him they set the phone so everything would be in English. Voice mail, voice instructions, those things. That was our assumption. The actuality is that the phone allows me to speak into it in English, if I can get the call to go through. Everything else is in Spanish; voice mail, voice instructions, the folded paper of instructions that came in the box, tips, promotions. I know enough to figure Moviestar is trying to give me deals. 

            I would give you my number but you don’t want the charges per minute. Stick with email. Besides, if I heard my phone ringing, I probably wouldn’t remember where I hid it. Oh, just another minor detail—I have somehow brilliantly managed to lock out incoming calls.  

            Every block provides opportunities to eat, such as the little breakfast and lunch place on the corner a few feet from my apartment door. Yesterday I explored beyond my block, in search of a lavanderia. I found one just two blocks away, along with at least eight other eating establishments of various sizes. And a place to get my hair cut and nails beautified

            Between the laundry and my hair cut, a man named Rudy stopped me. “I remember you. You were at the Luna Palace.” I had purchased a raw opal from him. A good memory is as a polished jewel. It is flattering to be remembered. 

            Just last week on the beach Roger asked me, “Where is your ring?” Roger had sold me a ring with a Mexican agate two years ago. I never saw him last year. 

            Right before Evelyn flew back to Harlem, New York City, she and I were having a Coca-Cola at my corner comida. A man from Edmonton with whom we’d had a long conversation just the day before walked by not recognizing either of us. 

            “He didn’t even know us,” said Evelyn.

            “Well, we have to remember,” I replied, “to them we all look alike.”

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
December 5, 2013

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