Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dreaming of Guatemala

There's a dear man who works at the parking garage in an office building that Oliver and I frequent, and every week he calls Oliver handsome and smiles gently at me. He was gone for a few weeks, replaced by a surly young man who couldn't be bothered to ask whether I needed a receipt or not, much less a greeting, so this morning when we drove in to see our friend we were quite pleased. I asked him whether he'd been on vacation, and he said yes, that he'd been home to Guatemala for three weeks. I asked him why he came back, and he said that he'd lived and worked here for nearly forty years. He was going to work for three more and then retire there. He told us that it's beautiful in Guatemala and that while the country can be dangerous, it's also very relaxing. He said, though, that you can't earn a living there, that when you're young you need to get out and come north to earn some money. He said that here, in America, it's about work, work, work. We both sighed. When I pulled away, I felt a sort of stifled despair -- a yearning toward simplicity. Why are we living like this, here? Must we always be thankful, grateful for this supposed "high" standard of living? I know that I must be content -- or not must -- but somehow acknowledge and sit with where I am now, and the now being the place to be. Now.

I think.


  1. When I saw your photo, I thought, is that place for real?! It would be nice to step away to something slower paced.

  2. I've always wondered if we in this country haven't just made a huge mistake, even those of us who do not necessarily aspire to a particularly luxurious life (ah- but what is the definition of luxurious?) and I do not know the answer.
    But yes. Here we are. Here we are.

  3. Yes, please! Yesterday on the radio they were interviewing a twenty year old woman who had volunteered to help clean up at the major mudslide site in Oso, Washington and she sighed and said, "We (Americans) are always portrayed as busy, like bees in a hive doing, doing, doing. This is a slow, methodical process and it is weighty. We need to remember to slow down and live." I'm up for it, but I'm not sure anyone else in my house would be. I think they've all succumbed to the lure of capitalism, unfortunately.

  4. oh, how this resonates for me, sitting here in Jamaica, looking out at the hills.

  5. It is truly the paradox of these times. I've been to Guatemala many times. It is beautiful, tragic, poverty stricken, horrible for most women, lush, and full of generous people. My daughter is adopted from there and so we live with all the contradictions of being a blended, first world/third world family. Mostly though, we live the first world life. It is always humbling to travel and remember both our fortunes and soul-killing lifestyles. That we can even reflect on this conundrum is mighty.

  6. It's the parking garage attendants of the world that have their shit most together.



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