Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, México
Pueblo Chiquito, Infierno Grande
Ferry Boat, Caribbean Sea
Playa del Carmen-Cozumel, Quintana Roo, México
“I can’t believe I’m on this ferry boat. I guess I was lucky to catch the last one. I hope he has his cell phone on. I have no idea where I’m going… I wonder where el grito de la independencia is on the island? Maybe I can just drop off my bags and go join the party, wherever it is. I hope he has his phone on…”
An extended vacation? How dare I. What is a lifelong sacrifice for many of those I work with in this small city has been referred to as an “extended vacation” by me. Typical of an American that is oblivious to her own freedom, her own privilege. An “extended vacation”? Labor in the sun, selling your knowledge of a place, a country, a moment you call home, to American tourists. Parched throat. Disorienting headaches caused by the heat, causing amnesia. Extended vacation? Where did I pick up that idea?
The sunset, the sunset, my reward is gained all in one simple sunset to the west, adjacent to the Bahia de Banderas, Vallarta! Tastes like a paleta de limón after walking from el Mercado en el Viejo Vallarta to the edge of the serra, on a bench in the plaza in front of la Catedral de la Virgen de Guadalupe, I sit, content, licking my paleta, “tan rico que sabe.” I smile, am comforted by the company of the liberated pigeons pacing back and forth in the plaza y la compania de la Virgencita… that is what the sunset in Vallarta does for me- it raises its white flag to me, or is it I who raise a white flag to the sunset, to myself? And I am reminded that I am where I am. Nor could I, nor would I, be anywhere else at that moment. Or all the moments added together, all those moments that would amount to a day, a week, a life.
That moment: Jorge fue el amor de mi vida una noche en agosto. His thick Mexican accent sounded like atole that fills you with heartiness. The tamale in between his legs filled me with just as much life. Entangled in one another’s embrace. “estas- tienes calor or estas caliente?” -is heat not the condition for arousal? Was I in a state of lust? Drunken stupor? Casual? Connection? Maybe he said a line of two that caught my attention. “I’m here today and who knows where I’ll be next year…” “I hate responsibility.” Or maybe waking up next to him this morning was just as comfortable as it seemed… as if though there was no other possibility in regards to my awakening that morning, or lack there of.
He was my supervisor, though. Was he harassing me? Was he exploiting his position of power?
Those kisses, the dandelion colored highlights in his thick dark hair. The Pond’s brand powder foundation compact that made his complexion flawless (although a few shades lighter than his skin color), the smashed and smudged lip and eye liner on the counter in his bathroom. Lube. Condoms. Make-up. Mouthwash. Cotton swabs. Cologne. His Queer necessities. The kiss to my hand before he fell asleep. His long, heavy dark arms, and dark legs, el pecho, la panza, y la cara- cafés. The sweat above his lip as we walked down the cobblestone streets of el Viejo Vallarta late that night. He hugged me as we walked up the sidewalk ascending on a slope. He kissed and kissed- he kissed my teeth after I hit myself with a bottle.
Why do these moments, these thoughts, torture me, fill me?
“Todo esto para mi?”
Am I naïve? I’m very attentive, very affectionate, very vulnerable. I’m shown the littlest affection and I evaporate. I need to balance between my solids and evaportations. What is my liquid state?
Una noche en octubre, fue me perdicion. I should have known I needed to stay away from him after I learned about his addiction. After the times he stood me up and didn’t give an explanation. After the messages he left me to call him back and when I would, his phone would be turned off. This was our last chance to be together, for him to be healthy, for him to open his eyes. “Jorge, I’ve come to see a lot of ugliness in this world. The last thing I want to do is contribute to the corrupt heart. El Corazon es doloroso, esta dañado- mi motivo es tranquilizarlo.”
We made plans to leave el Infierno Grande called Vallarta together, where addictions, Jorge’s crack addiction, are nurtured. I had been squatting in an apartment at a tenement on the southern side of the city. The day before we were scheduled to depart, the place where I’d been squatting had been padlocked. My passport was on the other side of the lock. I would not be able to board the plane without my passport. Jorge left. “Quedate en mi departamento until you get your passport, then you meet me in Cozumel.” I made arrangements with the landlord of the apartment where I squatted to remove my personal belongings from his property the day we were supposed to depart, the day Jorge departed. Jorge departed. I stayed behind. I collected my belongings and took my bags to Jorge’s apartment. Prepared to travel the following day, to join Jorge, mi enamorado, en Cozumel. I was scheduled for a flight early the following morning from Vallarta to Can Cun with a layover in Mexico City. I would then take a bus from the airport in CanCun to Playa Del Carmen. From Playa, I would take a ferry to Cozumel. “Aqui te espero, chiquito” dijo el.
Before I laid down for a nap at 2 am the morning I was supposed to travel, I sat on the toilet, reading, thinking, among other things. I heard voices coming in through one of the windows. “La Llorona!” I was filled with fear. Finished up on the toilet, washed up, walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom, then into the kitchen. I saw human figures on the other side of the glass door and screen door in the kitchen that led outside. The human figures then knocked. “Llorona, eres tu?” I thought to myself.
“Si, quien es?” I said.
“Policia Federal.” They said.
I was in shock. I opened the door. I thought they we bringing me news about the plane Jorge was on having crashed into a skyscraper in Mexico City.
“Donde esta Jorge?” a woman asked.
“Se mudo a Cozumel. Hoy se fue.” I responded.
“Y tu, quien eres?” she asked.
“Un amigo de Jorge. Me dejo quedar aqui por una noche. Manana me voy.”
“Amigo de Jorge? El no me dijo nada? Por que estas en mi propiedad y donde estan mis muebles?” she said scornfully.
Apparently, the furniture and the TVs Jorge had sold before he left Vallarta we not his property and were apart of the fully furnished apartment that he was renting from this woman who stood before me.
“Well, I don’t know where Jorge is. All I know is that my furniture is missing and I don’t know who you are and you are on my property” said the landlady to me.
“You are under arrest,” said the Policia Federal.
I couldn’t open my mouth. I stood still. Let them tie me up. And before being led out of the apartment, asked if my two bags could be brought along with, still hopeful that the situation would work itself out and that I would be on the morning flight away from this big hell. I was thrown on to the back of a pick up truck, in my pajamas. I had just had my hair done. Tight braids against my scalp. My hair is long and thick and I felt hotter when I had it down. So that I wouldn’t need to compromise my desire (perhaps need) to have long hair, I had a woman on the beach braid it for fifteen dollars, a price she gave to locals. In order to preserve the braids, I would need to wrap it up and tie it. That was not possible where I was going.
We arrived at the police station. I was questioned. Read my rights. At the time, none of what was being told to me made sense. I was arrested a few times before in the u.s., in Chicago, as a minor, and practiced my rights as a minor, conscious that no real action could be taken against me. In a Mexican context? I was 19 now. Very adult. They spoke a language I didn’t understand. The searched my bags. In one of my bags I had a plastic bag that was tied up. They tore it open. Pulled out a Sergio Valente denim skirt, a black Baby Phat blouse, a bra and silicon-filled breast enhancers, my titties, a pair of strappy and pretty Dolce & Gabana stilettos, and a long, straight, black wig. Before moving to Mexico, I was cross dressing and doing sex work in Chicago. I had brought an “emergency kit” just in case I couldn’t figure out another way to make money in Vallarta. I refused to go hungry. They asked me if the clothes and wig belonged to me. I said yes. The three men in the room laughed, said “ladron y puto?!” and tossed my belongings back in the bag. I was placed in a cell with a dirt floor with ten other men. The sun began to rise. The ceiling of the cell had a small crack to let in very little light. I stood, barefoot, near the bars, away from the filth, the stench of a cell that was never cleaned, away from men who’d been in and out of the jail, who seemed to be familiar with the conditions. I was eager to have another opportunity to speak to someone about my situation. While staring out of the cell, I felt a hand on my shoulder by one of the men in the cell. “Estas bien Chiquita? Quieres que te ayudo calmar?”
My mind popped out of my body.
Is still traveling…
“Bienvenido a Cozumel” I hear on the loudspeaker. “I hope he has his phone on.”