They’ll take suggestion as a cat laps milk.
Shakespeare, The Tempest
While writing Stay or Leave, I started thinking how, when I lived in the United States, one was suspect of people on street corners, people who dared stray from their cubes, from their psychological tether to the tube.
I thought of the night I became lost walking back from town and the folks just talking, laughing, and how I was suspect of them.
If one is of a certain age and living at home with perhaps two other generations, and one wants to get together with one’s friends, the best place to do so – especially in such a mild climate – is the street corner, where any number of friends can gather. That used to be something that happened more often in the United States, but somehow, over time, we’ve learned to stay within our cubes, just like we drive between the lines on the highway, or when we queue for the supermarket cashier. I think we like to know our place in the order of things. No uncertainty. And we get mad when we see someone park on the white line at the shopping center- how dare they take up two spaces!
One day two weeks ago I was halfway down calle Carolina on my walk to the supermarket, when I saw a man lead a somewhat large pig from behind a gate, across the street, to another gate, where he led the pig to a lot. The man had to let go of the lead in order to open the gate, and the pig had wanted to wander up Carolina: I looked at the pig, the pig slyly looked back, then quickly turned away and stealthily attempted to put distance between itself and the man, but the man was alerted to his wandering friend by a woman – the man’s wife? – who closed the gates behind everyone. The pig looked somewhat relieved to be headed back to known sources of calories. One never knows what’s behind walls and gates in San Miguel.
Since that day I’ve seen a young family of four on a motorcycle, helmet-less as well as three teens riding a motorcycle, helmet-less.
Any number of cars are on the roads, unregistered, including a van driven by Rodrigo, el vaquero, that carries Massachusetts tags with no date, and I’ve also seen Rodrigo lead a string of güeras (fair-skinned Latinas) or gringas on horseback through el Centro: stuck in the middle of automobile traffic, the string patiently waited its turn through the intersection.