My new preferred mode of transport, sound system and a visit to where it all began.
Moving out of my three year home was made less burdensome by two peculiar events. The first, only a month before being asked to leave, I had purchased an old FedEx van with the intention of converting it to a mobile home. This has been a dream of mine as old as owning portable electronics. The second, somewhere close to my purchase of the van, during a night out in Mexico City, one of my dearest friends asked me to sing at her wedding. Ever since, the roads have aligned in the expected peculiar manner they do when one takes notice.
The leftovers from my old home being loaded into my new van was particularly convenient. Since I purchased it from a junk yard back in August it has been in and out of the mechanic (half an hour away from town) for a variety of fixes and upgrades. I couldn’t find a diesel mechanic in San Miguel but chance led me to find one in the nearby town of Dolores (the town’s tagline: birthplace of Mexican independence). Only recently I realized the precise location of the shop:
The day before my move I shared with the shop’s owner Chan (his real nickname) the recent loss of my home. He sat on the driver’s seat, his son on his lap, ready to hand the van over for my trip south to the city “well, this is your new home,” he reminded me of the latest upgrade, a tiny Bluetooth stereo system for my music. “Want to test it?” he pulled out his phone, showed me how it all worked and clicked play. Bad Moon Rising blasted out of the brand new speakers. My not-so-inner witch cackled.
I drove my new home, filled with remnants of my old one south. I couldn’t believe I had managed to give almost everything I owned away and keep only a few boxes -mostly filled with books- my most priced collection all in a single box marked Magic. I thought of how I would make it all fit into my old room in my mum’s house, of course I would have to play Marie Kondo all over again there. I am not moving back, but I do need a small catalogued personal library located somewhere in my new life. Seems like a good spot.
In Mexico City I unloaded the van and headed for rehearsals with my future band. Made up of members of the groom’s own real-life band whom I had never met before. I the only member of the bridal party and now vocalist of this festive rearrangement. Music brought us together. By Christmas I was in Vegas drowned in the sounds of slot machines as my own life shifted in spins and conspired to form new jackpots. I rang in the New Year in Mexico City with my family in the exact same place I had entered the year 2000.
Come January I hopped, multiple times between my (old?) town, my (older?) city, Chan’s astro-hood and my future performance rehearsals (of now six songs) for the wedding ceremony that would take place in a few weeks somewhere inside Oaxaca city’s lush botanical gardens. I plotted the website’s new look and as the word Wandering came alive in pink hues it became electric, like a neon sign out the window.
The van upgrades continued as I watched the sun rise by the coastal beach towns of Oaxaca state, a spectacle worthy of all the 80s retro-futuristic artworks I love, whale watched, swam with dolphins (or tried) made new friends for life out of my band-mates all whilst I re-encountered old ones from previous lives. A day before the event I rehearsed with my heaven-sent band on a rooftop in Oaxaca city and I remembered this had always been my dream too.
I placed small spells in my wedding performance outfit, a leopard print jacket purchased in Vegas, tribute to fantasy bands I admire from syndicated animations, and a bright Nickelodeon slime green tie an accidental subtle homage to the greatest green karaoke singer of all time, Lorne from the TV show Angel.
After the wedding, my 31st birthday loomed closer, I figured I would take the van out for its first ride just before I turned older, so I drove it up to the border and into my beloved city of Houston, Texas. I told my partner and travel companion how “coincidentally” that’s where I’d gone on my very first trip, as a baby. My grandfather had been involved in real estate sales there in the eighties, which left our family with houses. Out of love and constant visits now about to span thirty-one years I had adopted the place as one of my hometowns.
Strangely, or not so much to me, I shared this connection with two out of my three new band-mates, who also happened to share the Lebanese blood. One of them lives there now and has been in the Texan city permanently since childhood. I agreed to meet my new band’s drummer during the van trip and he arrived to pick me up in a car with winged doors like something out of my new Instagram feed (a curated mood board of my visual interests). If the first year of my Saturn’s return -a tale I will recount another time- was heavily tinged with ghosts of the past, this year has so far been all ‘back to the future’.
Upon my return I delivered the van in Dolores and a visiting Singaporean friend who is travelling across the continent by motorcycle offered me a ride back into town. I’ve been on that road quite a few times in the last few months but it has never come alive as it did on that bike ride. Before his departure , he gifted me the helmet I’d worn that day, along with a small birthday gift. “I don’t ride” I said, but will keep it as an amulet. I gave him back a six of cups from the Marshmallow deck, for pleasant travels.
On March 8, I celebrated my birthday in town. My brother, partner and visiting friends all gathered around the margarita bowl and the pulse of new wave tunes to take me into the future. Two days later I took a bus to the West coast beaches of Mexico with my best friend from Canada to celebrate his own Piscean anniversary. During the eight-hour bus trip I killed time on my Kindle and later decided to switch it up and watch some Jem and the Holograms (I’m in the midst of a small marathon). I watched in small-screen excitement as the fictional cartoon band travels to Houston to play a gig at the Astrodome.
It was only a few months ago I made the decision to leave my home, it’s never easy to transition out of a comfort zone, despite the knowledge that nothing ever grows there. I am now on the move, not here and not there. Today I sit in San Miguel, tomorrow or Saturday I am headed back to the city, hopefully in the van (the electrical system is being installed at the moment) on the weekend I have scheduled band practice (we snagged a second wedding gig). In the beautiful blur of my now rolling sevens, diamonds and cherries a couple of days ago I learned it had been 10 years since the passing of the brilliant actor behind the character of Lorne (my green hero) and I stumbled upon one of his dialogues from the show:
“It’s like a song, now I can hold a note for a long time, actually I can hold a note forever. But eventually that’s just noise. It’s the change we’re listening for. The note coming after and the one after that, that’s what makes it music.”