Prophecies: Guanajuato, Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp
Mexico North America

Prophecies: Guanajuato, Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp

GTO 100
This post, written in 2013, seems prophetic in 2017, the year that we sold everything in the United States and left permanently. We started our journey with 8 months in Guanajuato before heading south.

It doesn’t really matter, but I am and we all are, like this place with its winding streets and dark corridors. The pulsation of life, loud and raucous with regular strains of peaceful interludes. Tiendas with small buckets of floral flavored honeys hidden behind boxes of pencils and motor vehicle parts. Gutted buildings waiting to be occupied by life and love. Pristine gardens teetering on the brink of a future period of decay.

The city is honest with its disorganized manner. There is trash on the rooftops, t-shirts and socks on laundry lines flapping with desperation in the intermittent breeze. Stained curtains and ugly rogue dogs lick the dregs out of old plastic bags dropped carelessly where they became useless to their owners. Vines creep along the electrical wires and dangle clumsily toward other stringy things in the hopes of finding support of some kind. Broken beer bottles from wild Mexican parties arrange themselves with sharp edges pointing skyward on fence-tops.

Druggies and thieves turn elsewhere for their loot.

I am the wrought iron fence and the shadow it casts. The sun and the shade. The gracefully rounded church tops and the frustrated passers-by trying to snap a photo of it. I am the good writer. The bad writer. The nomad, the home-body. I am none of these things. I am lost. I am found. I am amazed, then disenchanted. I am in the midst of it and it is in the midst of me. And I can’t say whether it’s okay or whether it’s all gone wrong, but here I am.

Here I am.

I make my peace with the unfamiliarity in shallow breaths, remembering home and its provincial predictability but reminding myself that somehow, inexplicably me and this city are connected.

I’ll leave a piece of me here.

I’ll wish to come back.

The feeling is both awkward and lovely. Tremendously uncomfortable, but simultaneously liberating. I can’t define it, but still feel compelled to try.

Within this Spanish-speaking city, I have spent weeks being perpetually and profoundly misunderstood. I feel mis-underwhelmed, lost and pre- rather than dis- consolate. I feel like writing upside down and inside out and mostly like a peach that fell from the tree too far. What makes sense today is different from what made sense tomorrow.

Turn the paper over and find a virgin whiteness staring back. Completely vulnerable to the words that have not yet been written.

I don’t belong here. I whisper to myself.

I wonder if perhaps the best place for me is between here and there, on the way to someplace else?

This chair is not my chair. The words echoing through the stairwells are not my mother tongue. The pillows have stains I don’t recognize. There are insects that seem threatening but aren’t. Local behaviors perplex and annoy me. There are gatherings that I wasn’t invited to.

And the sense that I could never fully belong.


But how it is and how I feel are not the same thing. Yesterday I felt fine. This morning I woke with the palpable sense that there was something askew.

I can’t make the feeling go away, but I can hold it out in front of me and look at every detail. See it. Smell it. Listen to it. Taste it. And then accept it for what it is.

Because it isn’t time to go home yet.

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