|picture: courtesy of www.restoredeleted.com|
Check back later in the week for the next installment of HELP WANTED...In the meantime, here's an excerpt from my book, Memory Card Full.
Memory Card Full
It was my last full day in
and I was already missing the place. I drove through the sleepy town of Mexico as the late afternoon sun warmed my face through the open windows of my dusty, little rental car. I’d driven down the main drag so many times these last few weeks that instinctively, I knew when to slow down in preparation for the oncoming “topes” – random speed bumps every hundred feet or so, used to prevent drivers from speeding through the four short blocks known as the “ Tulum .” Pueblo
I checked my rearview mirror as I rolled slowly over the first one, catching a glimpse of the handlebars peeking out of the trunk. Going over each of the bumps, I held my breath, as I did for pretty much the entire ride back from Playa del Carmen, a heavily populated town about forty-five minutes north of Tulum.
With a population somewhere around 10,000, Tulum sat in stark contrast to Playa where there was a Wal-Mart, Office Depot and thousands of high-rise resorts lining the beaches. Tulum was filled with small cafes and eco-resorts whose electricity shut down after each night to conserve energy.
“Hola!” I called to Manny through the passenger window as I made my way slowly over the last of the “topes.”
Manny ran the little store where I’d been buying eggs since my arrival and was nice enough to explain to me that asking in Spanish, “Tienes Huevos?” – The literal translation of “Do you have any eggs?” - was the way you’d ask someone if they had the balls to do something courageous.
He waved back and watched me pass smiling widely, saying something in Spanish and pointing to the trunk of my car with envy.
My friend Karen and I agreed that I would stay at her newly-built condo virtually rent-free in exchange for readying the apartment for prospective renters. The condo was just past the edge of town where the main road turned back into a two-lane highway and civilization thinned out into the surrounding jungle. I pulled into the dusty driveway and maneuvered around the unpaved dips and bumps with the ease of an expert, frequently checking to see that the bikes hadn’t fallen out of the trunk.
Buying the bikes was just another adventure to add to the list of many during my stay in
. The couple who lived next door told me that Playa was the place to go for bikes, so me and my limited Spanish took a trip north early that morning. Mexico
The bike shop owner kept saying, “No problem, Lady. No problem,” as I watched three of his men work the bikes into the car for over an hour. They even tied a small red rag to one of the wheels - I suppose to indicate I was carrying some sort of “wide load.”
Pulling up to the condo, I now wondered how I’d get the bikes out of the car. Maybe Memo was still here, I thought as I opened the car door and reached back to find the flip-flops I’d happily tossed behind me for the journey south. Memo was the maintenance guy for the condo who’d do anything you asked as long as he understood what you were asking.
While looking for Memo, I decided it would be funny to have a picture of the bikes all tied up to the car to document my latest Mexican adventure. I ducked into the condo and grabbed my digital camera, happily distracted by this new task.
Outside again, I angled myself to the right of the rear of the car, making sure to get it all in – the red rag, the front wheel, handlebar and basket all sticking out of the trunk like something out of “Sanford and Son.” I pressed the button to take the picture, my camera beeped and across the screen the message read: Memory Card Full.
Shit. I knew why it was full. I still had his pictures on there. My mind started to race. Did I ever download them to my laptop in
? No. I couldn’t have. It was too painful to look at them. They were the last photos I had of him before he died. The ones where he had to lie down while eating when the arthritis got so bad. New York
I swallowed hard and stood there looking at the bikes in the trunk. I had no
USB cord with me so downloading the photos wasn’t an option. I felt like I was on a bridge. Should I delete the pictures of Rufus and erase the final memories I had of him? If I erased them, did it mean I was erasing him? And, if I kept them, what did that say about my desire to move forward?
“Next week marks a year since he’s gone, “I heard myself say to the camera.
It’d been such a great trip with so many new experiences and new friends and truly the first time since Rufus’ death that I had felt alive and really free. But did I have to let him go in order to embrace my present and ultimately my future?
My stomach tightened as I decided to compromise. I would erase all but three photos. I couldn’t let them all go, but I needed to make room for the new in my life. It was time. I stood in the parking lot scanning the pictures, trying to choose the best ones. In total, there were about ten photos, but when those are the last visual connection to someone you love, the stakes are much higher in the choice.
Erasing the first picture, I noticed I was holding my breath. It felt like I was betraying him; somehow casting him aside to embark on a new life. I tried to focus on my breath and as I did, I considered another perspective.
Maybe I should celebrate. I was finally moving on and ready to create the space for something new. I knew Rufus would dig that – in fact, I’m pretty sure that was the reason why he finally let go in the end.