art is a war 26

Mompox was a great place to reread 100 Years of Solitude.  I was glad I had a pdf copy of it on my laptop.  The storytelling of Gabriel Garcia Marquez seemed to fit the flowing of the Magdalena River right outside my door.  I needed a distraction.  It was all I could do not to throw myself in the river, so heavy was the oppression weighing on my heart.  These were characters who lived, died, and suffered in their time, as well.  The patriarch of the Buendia family spent the last years of his life chained to a tree, driven mad by his quest for the unobtainable.  Children are born with pig tails.  A trail of butterflies follows the memory of a mechanic.  A woman is taken up into the sky while taking down the laundry.  These are just the facts.

In the birthplace of magical realism, I was attempting to create two galleries of my life’s work, one for my songs and one for my poems.  There were not that many of them, but there were enough.  I had matched most of them with pictures from my travels.  Now, however, I did not have enough storage for them on my website, after downgrading to the Premium plan with WordPress.  I’d gone from 200 gigabytes to 15 gigabytes, about the same as you get with a free Google account.  What was I even paying for?

I decided then to just post samples of what I was trying to do on my website.  I already had a best of playlist of twenty-two poems on YouTube, so I went ahead and created one for the songs.  This was drawing from four-hundred and fifty videos that didn’t have that many views combined.  Then I sat down and created the two sample galleries, focusing just on the pictures and the words, but providing links to the playlists in case someone cared to listen.  Instead of being able to show someone what I’d done, I was still stuck showing them what I wanted to do, but all the other songs and poem matches were there on an external drive, ready to be posted when the opportunity arose.

After that, I needed to buy a bus ticket to Bogota, so I went out in search of the bus station.  I’d been dropped off in the middle of night, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  After asking around I tracked down the station on the other side of the cemetery and bought a ticket leaving in two days. 

Mompox was nice, but there wasn’t much to do.  I’d already walked from one end of it to the other a dozen times.  The humidity was stifling, and the fact that I’d barely slept the night before caused anxiety to surge through my chest.  It seemed like the perfect remedy to sit and meditate beside the river, but I couldn’t focus.  The whole time I’d been in Colombia, I’d never managed to make it past a few breath cycles before my mind would just drift off.  The depression was so bad I could taste it in my mouth, like metal.

If my financial situation was better, if I had a place that I considered home, I could probably handle it better, but I’d been living out of a suitcase for fourteen years, my only base in America being my mother’s yard.  It was a hard fall for someone who’d hoped to get across as a writer.  Not only had I not done that, I didn’t even have a community of other artists to commiserate with.  The truth is I’d come to Colombia to die.  All the joy and hope had been stripped from my life.  The good times were just a distant memory.

What I wanted to do was to throw myself into the river and make it look like an accident.  I’d never have a better opportunity.  The current was swift and merciless.  All I needed was to take ten steps forward and be swept away.  Still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 

Towards evening I heard fireworks coming from the center of town and headed back towards the cathedral.  Outside of it was a man launching rockets that had the force of a small stick of dynamite.  I went into the church and saw it was a special occasion.  Some children were recreating the nativity scene.  Joseph and Mary sat up front.  Mary held a doll on her lap with an enormous head, the same size as a full-grown man.  Around them there were all the animals and angels. 

The three wise men were there as well, and I noticed that they’d been one child short, so an old man had stepped in for them, in a long, yellow robe, with a cloth around his head.  Seeing him up there, doing his best to play his part, actually made me smile.  Hope dies, but hope returns.  That was the gift he brought that night.  Perhaps, it was worth my while to stick around a little bit longer.  Death would come soon enough, no matter what I wished for.

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