A decade gone by

2014-01-10-The-TENIT WAS 10 YEARS ago about now when I was last in the United States. I don’t recall if it was just before or just after Obama’s first inauguration. I prefer to think it was before, so I can say I never set foot in Weepy Barry’s America.

There was no Black Lives Matter or Antifa, and SJW had not been invented yet. There was social strife and victimhood because multiculturalism had been boneheadedly promoted long before I departed, but nowhere near the absurd level that now exists. But I had never voted Republican.

My Democrats were not rioting in the streets. Nor were they prone to hysterics. They were more sensible people.

Visiting outside your native land is a strange sensation. Living in a world so different than that which sprouted you is odder still. Though I’m a Mexican citizen and almost never speak English, I don’t fit in below the border.

I just have to live with that. A price to pay, well worth it.

Quite a few Americans live in Mexico. The Mexican government puts the number at around 750,000, though you see much higher numbers on the internet, stated by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

From what I read on internet forums, etc., most Americans (expats, a term I never apply to myself) in Mexico visit their homeland on a regular basis, as do Canadians. It’s like a siren call, but I’m deaf to it.

There are reasons. One is it’s very expensive up there. Two is that America has become a disappointment to me. (Former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recently described contemporary American culture as vulgar and slipping into moral relativism.) Three is that it’s dangerous up there. Four is there’s nothing above the border that I need.

The last time I left Mexico was in 2012 when we flew to Cuba, which is a miserable place, but it was interesting. We’ll never do that again.

The last time I was in my old hometown of Houston was either 2007 or 2008. It had changed a lot since I left in January 2000. I imagine I would be flabbergasted to see it now.

Like San Miguel de Allende, where no more Mexicans live, Houston might be the flip side, where no more Americans live, just Mexicans.

And the last visit to another old hometown, New Orleans, was 2006, about a year after Hurricane Katrina. The city was a mess.

There are some things I miss about America. Fall foliage in Atlanta. Floating in the crystal clear Sabinal River in the Hill Country of Texas not far from the town of Utopia. Hot bowls of Vietnamese pho in Houston.

But America lacks some things I enjoy here. Cows on highway overpasses. The bray of burros in the distance or just down the street. Dogs on house roofs. Real cobblestone streets. Inexpensive living. Gonging of the church bell from the plaza. Hummingbirds sitting on my aloe vera.

Lovely brown-skinned babes. One of whom I married.

I cannot imagine I’ll ever visit the United States again. When I left America I was a youngster of 55, wet behind the ears. Later this year, I’ll turn 75, mold behind the ears. It’s been quite a ride.

Down the Magic Dirt Road

MAGIC DIRT: the idea that geographical location will automatically transform the behavior of an individual or group of people.

This concept comes to us from Theodore Beale who writes under the name of  Vox Day. I’m reading a book of his that’s titled SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior, those ham-fisted, left-wing fanatics who enforce Political Correctness in the timorous world of white people.

But SJWs are not the focus today. Magic Dirt is. I happened upon this phrase and concept of Beale’s this week and, coincidentally, as if by magic, I had been thinking about something very similar lately.

Beale was born in Boston and now, apparently, lives in northern Italy upon his Magic Dirt. I was born in Atlanta and now, totally, live in the high mountains of Middle Mexico upon my Magic Dirt. We apparently both noticed the phenomenon, but he’s the one who stuck a name on it, not me.

Both Beale and I moved from American dirt to Latino dirt. I think that’s important. I believe that one who moves from American dirt to, say, Canadian or Australian dirt would likely not notice a great difference in dirt quality, its odor, consistency and color.

But does one change markedly on moving to another nation? I think it depends. I have, but I’m not sure to what extent, but it’s noticeable to me.

Let’s focus on moving to Mexico. There are no adjoining nations on earth that are so different, so if you really want a change, just fly over the Rio Bravo. I have long described Mexican life as akin to living in Alice’s Wonderland.

Cats with big smiles and no bodies that live in trees.

I’m sure the degree of change, the effect of the Magic Dirt, depends on how you live here and how often you go back where you came from. It also depends on if you know the language. It depends on the people you hang out with. If you marry into a Mexican family, that’s about as tight as a foreigner can get.

You’ve slipped through a barely open door. If you’re not in the Mexican family, you’re an eternal outsider, an intruder. You do get the smiles.

A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.

— Octavio Paz.

If one heads back over the northern border regularly. If you are married to another foreigner. If you do not speak Spanish. These and other elements will affect the effect of the Magic Dirt upon your mind, heart and soul.

How do you know the Magic Dirt is below your fingernails?

One good indication is that the wackiness — often sheer lunacy — of Mexican life ceases to annoy you, or at least to a far lesser degree.

If you wake up due to the 6 a.m. explosions on the nearby plaza but go directly and easily back to sleep, that’s Magic Dirt. If people explain an issue by citing something totally illogical, and you nod or shrug, that’s Magic Dirt.

Walking daily over Magic Dirt can be unsettling, or it can start to feel normal. It depends on the individual, one supposes. And time.