July 14, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude

"A person doesn't die when he should but when he can."
-Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I was always terrible at Spanish, but for some reason, I decided to take it for four years, despite the fact I only needed two to fulfill graduation requirements.

My fourth year of Spanish was just awful. Because of my schedule, I had to take independent study spanish, and that's when I discovered I was an in-the-closet, bona-fide slacker. I never studied. I half-assed my homework, and my teacher knew it. 

Going to Spanish class = Walking the plank.

(At least, then it was. But I'm getting to the perspective bit.)

One day, my teacher plunked down a hardcover book in front of me. It was banana yellow.

"This is your new assignment: read it and write wooompwooomp wommmpwoooooomp."*

I read it. It was my first taste Latin American literature, and I jumped in, head first. I haven't come out since. 

Some time ago, someone was interested in why I like Marquez's writing so much. Back then, I couldn't really explain why: I actually think not being able to explain why was a part of why I liked him so much. But I think I've got it down now. 

It's taken me all summer to come to terms with myself: being uprooted and placed in a strange place that can never be my home, not sticking to plans, deciding that I'm better off without this or that, and other nonsensical personal stuff. I've been so busy pondering all the self-imposed anxieties that my summer has been mostly me reciting in my head:

Should have, could have, would have.

But where does this all lead? Needless to say, I have no sense of gratification from this. It makes me more anxious, to say the very least. Nothing. Nowhere.

I was lying on my bed a few days ago, looking up at the ceiling fan. It was making this god-awful clanking noise because I hadn't figured out how to screw whatever it was I was trying to unscrew a few days before then back in properly. As I was looking at it, something funny happened. Everything slowed down. The ceiling fan was still. 

And for some reason, I was brought to Macondo, in that moment where my ceiling fan was on but not moving. Time slowed down. Anything could happen in that moment. It was my moment. I wanted nothing more then for it to be a moment I could call my own... to drop off the face of the earth, if only for a small amount of time where my eyes were tired and played tricks on me. 

In Macondo, everything happens over several generations of Buendias living their lives. Their simple and miraculous lives. But every moment of their life is shown with such detail, such attention. It is theirs. 

Too much obligation. Too many worries. 

They had them, too. We have them, too.

But somehow, if I can figure out how to make each moment mine, and still go on with my life, it would be really nice. A bit of magical realism does everyone good. 

*I don't remember what he told me to write about because I do remember writing whatever it was at 12 AM the day it was due a few days later. So I just filled in the blank a la Charlie Brown.