I think it was late spring, and school was going to let out a few weeks later, but things had been rough on the home front so it must have been decided that my brother and I were going to skip the end of the class year, and my 7th grade finals would be missed. My sense of time is fluid and inherited by my Dad. The season could have been off, but I feel like it is right. Either way, my brother and I went to the airport and flew to Mexico with Mom, to Cancun, only to arrive and leave Cancun as fast as we could. It was the 90’s and even then it was a fictional retreat for the long march to the middle. We hadn’t seen Mom for a few months after she left in the divorce. I was 12, my brother 14. I was angry, and felt that this trip was a bribe meant to make us hate Dad, so when we landed in the Mayan heat of the province of Quintana Roo and rented a car that had no A/C, I was a pissy pre-teen in the back seat. But off we went, into the jungle.
My mother and I know each other best on the road, we flow and jive and are in our comfort zone when all is chaotic and the unknown potential of travel is ripe. This trip is where that seed was planted, where I was leaving childhood and my Mom was becoming a person to me rather than a parent. I was mad when we landed, but the trip was to turn into something that shaped me in a number of ways. In Merida I was to see the suffering of the poor and the opulence of the Church for the first time. Gold plated cathedrals surrounded by beggars in overexposed light. I was seeing my brother and mother and I was getting to know them not as a unit but as particulars for the first time, with faults. Something happened in my brain and I was hungry to learn for the first time. I knew it was going to happen at one point but had been waiting for my brain to turn on. For years I had collected books but never read then, after this trip I consumed my whole collection as fast as I could.
I arrived hot in Quintana Roo and went home a whole – divisible, but complete. Re-built after the wreck of a family divorce, pasted shards but all one piece. It was family travel that was the vessel, the venue that brought it all back in, that taught me and shook the cage. I was able to see my mother, father, and brother as parts instead of the package, and was able to appreciate them and myself in all our foibles. My childhood finished the night my Mother left, and my adulthood was born in Quintana Roo