Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Wizard Of Popotla

The lights in the city shine at night. Who knows how they get turned on? Switches are clicked, that’s all that matters. It has to be some sort of magic. There is a lot behind the flipping of the switches, but we ignore it. We would rather just see the lights. We want fireworks because we are selfish. We should all be selfish; otherwise there would be no fireworks. Otherwise, there would be no lights in the city.

Behind all of this, people dream. I dream. I remember one evening in Las Vegas when I tried on Liberace’s jacket. He was dead by then. He died of a disease that is largely attributed to homosexual activity. I think this is unfair. He was one hell of a piano player. So was I. The difference between us was this: His dreams came true. The similarities were this: We dreamed.

"We hear that you play the piano," he said, someone who was once a dry-cleaner to the stars. I nodded.

"Try this on."

It probably weighed fifty pounds. It was armor. I can’t imagine how Wladziu Valentino Liberace ever lifted those arms and played with such a heavy coat. I lifted my arms and pretended, and it would never have happened. I didn’t know how to flip the switch, especially with that heavy jacket. Liberace was one strong son of a bitch.

* * * *

They came home in the afternoon, sunburned, tired, the men just in time for a soccer game on television and the women and girls just in time for a nap. Having traveled in a wide circle, almost to Tecate and then around to past Rosarito, stopping off in Popotla, they were gone for quite a few hours. People are starting to slowly build there, on that mesa right over the Pacific Ocean south of Rosarito Beach. We own three lots, when put together, that form an ample amount of land on which a large house can be built, along with another smaller one or maybe a couple of apartments. Sometimes Rocio likes to visit there and I reckon she dreams that I should be building something.

"Has the electricity arrived there yet?"

"No," she says.

My reluctance is her frustration. The land has been paid off for years now, but without electricity it’s pointless to start any project. I can make do without running water because gravity is such a wonderful thing – a cistern strategically placed high up on the roof could feed everything just fine. Adding a pump would enable me to use one of those newfangled tank-less water heaters. I can build before running water is installed, but without electricity I would be lost.

What could I do without my power-tools?

The heat here, inland, many miles east of downtown Tijuana, is suffocating in parts of this dwelling. Upstairs is an oven, mostly, except for Anna’s room with the window open if there’s a breeze. Even downstairs gets hot, except for my office. The kitchen, when I cook, is unbearable for most. Anna and me are mostly immune while everyone else seems to suffer in it.

Rocio wants Popotla because it is cooler. The ocean breeze is constant. The view is amazing. And whatever I build would be hers, free and clear, irrevocably and entirely. But I need electricity, darling – please be patient. I certainly don’t blame her for being selfish. She wants lights; she wants me to light up the city.

* * * *

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison have nothing on me. It isn’t that I want to understand very much about electricity. I don’t. I want it to be some magical power, and I want it to be controlled by wizards with wands. Something has to remain sacred, after all, now that humanity and the universe have pretty much been explained by science. At the very least, television reception and electricity should remain magical. For the love of all of humanity, please give us that.

When I do build in Popotla, I’ll wire my own house. I’ll pretend that I’m wearing Liberace’s jacket, and deal with it. All of those sequins and all of that weight, and all of that flair I’ll need to finish the task are somehow connected. It’s just wires, after all, and switches that someone else throws on or off. That and flair.

No. It’s magic. I’ll get a wand. I’ll get a title. The wizard of Popotla. And then it will happen.


Anonymous Doug said...

I find it cosmically ironic that, 2 weeks after writing this blog entry in which you mention a road trip to Vegas that we shared, that you and I should bump back into each other. Many were the days when I would ponder the existence of the Great Gray Gringo of Popotla. Did this old man truly exist, and would the fates ever lead us back into favor with each other? would the beating of a Eagles's wings set into motion the series of events that would eventually lead to the right people thinking of the right people that would lead us back in touch with each other?

I fear, alas, that the fates are not so grand in design. It was merely Facebook.

Good to hear from you, Dave, Opps, I mean "Oh Great Grey Gringo". May the fates always show favor upon you, your footsteps be true, your burden be light and a star to guide you through the Dark Popotla Sky !

12:06 PM, July 28, 2009  

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