We got a new lock at my house last week. The old one stopped working just as I was leaving for work. The pins and divots no longer aligned, or the bar malfunctioned, or it just got tired of keeping people out. So I was given a new set of keys, my third in as many months. What's being said here? A three-peat means I should be unstopping my ears, right? I have never experienced such volatility of belonging in all my life. One day, my routines, command of Spanish and ability to navigate the uncertainties of social and professional life in Mexico City align to create a sense of culmination--This is it, I think. All the years of studying Spanish and daydreaming about working abroad--I have it. Other days, I wonder why I accepted the salary cut and the long, anonymous taxi rides through the arteries of the city, struggling to see through the metro windows covered with etches in an unknown tongue.
I ran out of file folder labels two weeks ago and subsequently lost all interest in filing anything. What's the point of putting papers in another folded piece of paper? It only hides; the label is what gives the inkjet blots a name, a raison d'etre. But I don't think I'm far enough beyond the past three months to label my first quarter here. Perhaps my acceptance of this is label enough, but I suspect that time will come around and mark something on the label's notch so I can store it in my brain, recall it again and again, changing it each time, shuffling the papers to make sense or less, depending on the day's frame.
The lock change was jolting, because I hadn't thought about turning my key and ending the day in a while. Normalcy had happened, like sunset, without me noticing, as hard as I tried to watch the light fade and change into dusk, then night. Here became home--home in its fragments, its foreign sayings and differences. I ran my fingers along the notches of the new key and realized that I had begun to fill spaces here, that my path was marked by increasing familiarity, that I was stepping through the water curtain separating survival and willing occupation. And it feels unremarkably necessary. Is this peace or reprieve, and what's the difference for, anyway? I'll take a few more walks around Parque Mexico, find some more coffeeshops, do some more questioning and regularize, and meter out the difference. For now, I'm leaning toward peace.