Spring Break, Mayan Style
March 26, 2006
Dear Kay. Kay, Kay, Kay, Kaaaaaaaaaaaaay,
It’s funny. Before I met you in actual real person, back in the olden days when we were writing each other like a couple of dotty Victorians, I imagined you sitting in some vague New York apartment. You had a vague, undiagnosable accent; your features were vague–you were this puffy cloud of a person. It was only when you told me some detail of your life that the fog lifted. Carrie has big eyes. Hubby is really tall. Your parents live in Omaha. You don’t knit with wool.
I mention this because this morning I just had that vague sensation about you, for the first time in ages. I mean, today is the first time a yarn shop owner has got some people together to see our book, and it’s just making me nuts not to be there. I can’t envision it. All I can figure is that you’re over there in London somewhere (a city I’ve never visited), surely drinking tea or something vaguely British, chatting it up with some London knitters, all of whom have lovely, vague accents. I know two things: at some point today you’ll be eating a cupcake, because the yarn shop owner at Loop is providing them. And you are likely to be wearing your favorite knitted denim jacket. I can’t wait to hear how your trip has gone, who you’ve met, what you did, all of it.
As for meeee . . .
Mexico was great. Just great. Ohhhhh, what a trip! What a wander-around/layabout, do-stuff/do-nothing trip. I’ve already written my hate mail to a hotel about the prepaid reservation that resulted in a profound lack of a room. It’s not a trip without one totally pfaffed-up logistical moment.
But I digress!
I just want you to know: I did it. I went COLD. TURKEY. A whole week without a peek at email, the Internet, the beloved bloggy world of bloggy knitting. No TV, no phone, no radio–I decided to get in touch with my inner Mayan and go native.
You would think, in a place like Mexico, that it would be easy to pull the plug. Day 1: We arrive at our hotel before our room is ready. The FIRST thing the guy at the front desk says is, “Well, you can use the Internet over there if you like.” I’m all Hola Señor I am trying a very tricky experiment this week, and you are NOT helping. We divert to the bar, where David the 10-year-old discovers ping pong. In a world with no electronic media, there is room for a lot of ping pong.
The week went like this: Beach. Ruins. Ruins. Beach.
When I was little, the preferred family torture was to drag all four of us to Civil War battlefields. For the fellas, Mayan ruins seem to work just the same. Actually, they really hung in there. The ancient Mayan lifestyle was full enough of human sacrifice and gore that there’s plenty to think about.
At Chichen Itza (the Washington, DC of its day), we spent a while at the well where they dumped their sacrifice victims. We had a nice long discussion about how many times a person could survive before giving up. Eighteen is the number. After hauling yourself out of the 60-foot-deep cenote eighteen times, you’d give up.
We happened to be at Chichen Itza on March 21, the day that the giant pyramid does its coolest thing.
9 am: Peaceful, haunted place.
4 pm: By magic, the pyramid attracts 40,000 people from all over the world, covered in every imaginable brand of sunscreen, to sit in the blazing sun. For this one day–the spring equinox–the shadows of the pyramid appear to be a serpent god slowly slithering its way down the side of the pyramid. I was not smoking enough weed to get a full hallucination going, but in the moment I could see, in a world without electronic devices, how this would be cool enough to blow the minds of those Mayan people.
I thought about imperfection, and the way the top of this pyramid is not symmetrical even though it first appears to be. It’s out of whack so that it aligns with celestial calculations. The Mayans didn’t have metal tools, but they loved a calendar. They loved keeping track so much that they built pyramid-sized calendars.
What I Made
Remarkably little! I’m feeling sort of twixt and tween right now. I decided to cook up a blanket along the lines of the Keepsake Blanket that’s in the book. Instead of denim, I’m using up some Tahki Cotton Classic, and I’m making up rules as I go along–you know, squarey pattern follows wavy pattern. Juicy color then blah color. I’ve already forgotten some of the rules. This project was great for Mexican back roads when you’ve tired of yelling POTHOLE every ten seconds. And it was great for hanging with my peeps at the Cancun airport.
By the end of the week, the noise inside my brain was like an empty gymnasium, with one lonesome basketball bonking around. I didn’t write, I knitted in only the most desultory way, and I have to say, it was quite a change. I’m still digesting this electronics-free week. I felt so . . . vague.
And no, that’s not me dangling from that rope. But if you go a week without email, the idea does occur to you.