Returning to Mexico, after three weeks in the States--$227 for an afternoon at the aquarium, days spent in a minivan visiting friends and relatives, 19-degree weather the morning we left--was a tonic for the American soul. There was a deliciously familiar sense of arrival as soon as we left the Mexico City airport and we're steaming along Highway 57 northwest to San Miguel. Had there been Oxford-blue skies it almost would have been too much to bear. Instead, this January day, there were fat clouds nearly on the ground, the color of dirty water, but ringed by a silver band with the mountains rising behind them. The countryside was flat and dry, but the campesinos were in the fields, their horse-drawn drays parked along the road, boys on bikes carrying loads of bundled sticks, women with pyramids of mangoes and avocados sitting on little wooden chairs along the shoulder. We pulled into San Miguel at dusk, the gold and red tinsel banners for Feliz Año Nuevo stretched across Ancha San Antonio, shiny and shivering slightly. A man on a Clydesdale sauntered uphill, his best gaucho shirt pressed, his black pants creased, and his hat and boots new and stiff. The air outside was absolutely ambient, neither cold, nor hot, nor humid, nor wet. I thought, "This is what a heartbeat might feel like if you could take it out from your wrist."
Sam and I sat out on the lounge chairs by the pool. Overhead the black grackles circled and flew in and out of the three palm trees in our yard. Trucks clattered beyond our wall, out of sight, and even a few roosters made their presence known. I closed my eyes to better translate a conversation among a mother and father over the wall, out on Calle 20 de enero, and laid there under a full moon, with the bougainvillea blooming on our aqueduct and plants of bright orange flowers growing in my neighbor's rooftop pots. Two glasses of wine sat on the little stone table between us, Mason was building his Lego before he even went to the bathroom, and the other boys were running around in the yard with our new little dog, Nacho. A sense of such utter completeness hung in that still air that I knew I was home.