New Year

New Year’s was golden this year, spent at home in Tucson with Mark and Dan, Mum and Julie. We had my favourite soup and biscuits and pumpkin pie and wines still and sparkling. We talked through the new year and then Mum and Julie left the three of us still talking until late late.

Our last night was golden too. We bought mum a record player for Christmas, and so sat around playing old records. Some of them are mine, bought in LA years and years ago, the others we aren’t quite sure where they came from. I remember buying the songs of the Grand Ole Opry (the amazing Dolly Parton singing Mule Skinner Blues), but did I buy Don Williams (Amanda is one of my mum’s all time favourite songs, whether Waylon’s or Don’s — possibly because she too decided not to become a gentleman’s wife) and Jimmie Rodgers (In the Jailhouse Now) and Eddie Arnold (oh man, Cattle call, amazing)? There were three polka records, they must have been Ricki’s, she lived with us for a while but long before we knew her she owned a Polka bar in Chicago. She told me once she left because the mob requested the use of her basement. Those were pretty terrible, well, the one we listened to. Yet at the same time they sounded so much like the Mexican music I am more familiar with and do like, I couldn’t quite say why I prefer it, I kind of want to puzzle how they connect. I’d have to listen to the old Polish records more I guess. Then a couple of old falling apart albums that must, must have belonged to my grandfather I think, and come when my grandmother came to live with us. Ancient foxtrots. La Marseillaise. Tchaikovsky.

I can’t remember what else, but it’s been a long time since I just sat around and listened to things, almost all of them a surprise.

Family and walks in the desert and good food and sitting around talking and lots of reading, music, Rogue 1, El Corral, roadtripping and dreams of gardening in space…the days I will remember. The haven that still remains for us, which I am so thankful for in this world where that remains for so few.

I took pictures of the best covers, but lost my phone on the flight home. Gone too are the pictures of the Tucson Botanical gardens, cacti, the hommage to Frida and Diego’s Casa Azul, me and mum being a two headed butterfly.

I took no pictures in Nogales, where everything has changed. It was almost empty, making people less anonymous in the streets. Tourists now too afraid to come here. The wall is not as big as Tijuana’s I don’t think, but still too big, rust red, dividing people from their people, animals from their habitat, water from its dispersion, migratory birds from their pathways and often their lives. Most of the little shops I remember have closed down, and it is weird to miss the tourists but you can see how much harder life is in people’s faces. It is weird to miss the hordes of kids selling chiclets, but I know their absence isn’t because kids and their families are no longer driven by poverty to make some extra money, but because there is no one to be generous. I wonder how they survive now. There are four casinos that give free meals to get people in the door, the shop owner I was talking too said it with anger, because people eat and then gamble away their money because there is no hope of anything else. There are more pharmacies than I could believe possible, though that’s the reason we were down there I confess, I had forgotten my prescription. I suppose business will pick up more once the Republicans have succeeded dismantling Obamacare, we have a tradition of buying medicine in Mexico. Dental care. Glasses. Another shop owner (from him we bought tiles) pulled out his wallet to show us ticket stubs from the Tucson Convention Centre going back to the 70s. For some reason the only one I can remember now is Deep Purple.

I finally bought a ceramic parrot, the kind I have wanted since the first time we ever went to Nogales, decades I have wanted one. Now I want two more, so they hang from my ceiling like they still do in one or two remaining stores, a glad cascade of wild colour uncaged.

I have settled for colour and reminders of warmth and home instead of gambling I suppose.

Last year was so bleak, I had to sit and reflect on it in a blog for Verso, and it hurt to do it. 2017 doesn’t look much better. Still the struggle goes on, I’ll be part of it from Manchester now, have to find the best way to plug in and do what I can though all I feel is tired. Have to finish my book rewrites. Have to write more articles. Have to finish book one of the trilogy I have in mind and a little on paper. Want to read so much more. Have to find a little more hope that words can have any impact at all, or marches, or letters, or protests. Have to exercise, eat better. Have to get to know Manchester. Have to fill into my new job, find my new directions. Have to stay in touch better, respond more quickly to emails.

Have to spend more time with the people I love.

Those are the times that are golden.

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