Friday, September 14, 2007

Part Four

Written on my laptop while reclining on my double-decker air-mattress-bed with 4 girls sleeping on the floor beside me on Monday night:

"First day on the job site is over. I felt like a useless piece of humanity with a camera. I took 563 pictures and tried to love aggressive Mexican children. It did not come easy for me. In fact, it didn’t come at all.

Thirty eight people on one job site is probably about 28 people too many. We were all over each other on that small lot, and school started today for the local kids, so there wasn’t a hundred kids pestering us as predicted. Only about 20 showed up at around 1:00. See, that’s what’s wrong with me. I called it pestering. But our teens, both guys and girls, totally enjoyed playing with them. Really loved interacting with those kids. I was humbled. Watching Carmen gently hold their hands, listen intently to what they were saying and carefully walk with them to the empty lot was like seeing Jesus in action.

Even Clint got into it. I wasn’t expecting that at all. He did back flips, gave piggyback rides, wrestled with the toughest kid on the block and tried to learn a Spanish word or two. I’m writing about Clint because he’s my son, but I could just as easily write about everyone else’s sons and daughters as well. These are amazing teens that I am on this adventure with and I have faith in the future of humanity because of what I have seen.

Of course, there are those teens who aren’t all touchy-feely and HOLY COW were they ever hard workers. No, really, really hard workers. Guys (and girls) who stuck with the job right to the end. Hammering nails, moving lumber, raising walls, cutting boards … wow.

I took pictures. And wrote some words on the internet tonight.
Big hairy whoop."

Now that I’m home I’ll expand abit on my memories of that first day.

First of all, I woke up feeling like a loaf of bread baking in an oven. To keep the spiders out we had the tent zipped up tight. To keep it private we closed the flaps and fly. No fresh air got in. No hot air got out. And the sun heated things up nicely.

I was sticky wet. And paralyzed with fear as to how I was going to get dressed with these other people in my bedroom. These cute other people who could sit cross-legged on top of their sleeping bags and maneuver brightly coloured, tiny-sized undergarments onto their bodies without showing any skin. These friendly-first-thing-in-the-morning people who could wiggle under a sleeping bag to change their underwear and not come out the other side looking like the sleeping bag had tried to swallow them whole.

Go. Try this now … climb into a sleeping bag, zip it up to your neck, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then crawl in. Try to wriggle out of your bloomers, then put on a new pair, not inside out or backwards, then add a pair of knee length shorts on top of that, and emerge with a smile, not once complaining about the heat.

I thought I’d try the bra trick. You know the one… where you make a tent of your top, then slip the bra up underneath. Do the clasp up front, then scootch it around to the back and bring the cups over and up the front.

I tried for 15 minutes. But there was no scootching. My skin was so damp from the humidity and sweat that everything was sticky and sticking to me. My boobs, which rest attractively on my stomach when I sit hunched over like that (YOU try sitting on slightly deflated air mattress and keep your boobs off your thighs. I dare you) were not having any part of this under the cover fiddling about. I could not lift them up. Hercules would not have been able to lift them up.

So I sat for half an hour, waiting 8:00 to roll around. While I sat there, perched on my tipsy sleeping surface, my tent-mates plucked their eyebrows and washed their faces with moist towelettes, and I listened to Larry, doing morning devotions with those early risers who could get their bras on without having mental breakdowns.

It wasn’t until they called “Breakfast !” that my tent-mates left and I could finally swing my body parts hither and yon. I skipped that all important first meal of the day in favor of having a private moment at one of the outdoor sinks.

With all my pots and brushes, I faithfully followed my cleansing routine because wrinkles and zits do not take vacations… they can form anywhere and at any time. By the time everyone else had finished their breakfast, my face looked like it was ready for a day at the office. Because that’s the face I always put on. I don’t have a casual face and a business face and a glamourous face, and a fresh clean face. I have one look and this is it. (Well, I have my going-to-sleep face, and my just-woke-up-from-sleep-face; but those are rarely seen. The last person that saw them ran away and married someone else, so that tells you something.)

Anyway, with an empty stomach, but a bra and make-up on, I’m ready to go. I join the others on the bus and head out to the build site.

Remember that thing about my hip? Well, because of that, I am unstable. And find walking on uneven surfaces a challenge. This is what the road was like.

A frigging rock and bolder filled obstacle course. I should have borrowed a cane. Or a walker. One of those high priced models that comes with a seat. Speaking of seats, have I mentioned that yet? That one of the things I wanted to bring with me on this trip was my favorite folding green lawn chair? Why? Because I wanted to sit on it. I was worried there’d be no chairs in Mexico. None on the job site. None at the campground. None at the beach.

So, we get to the job site, and I take photos. And walk back and forth between the soccer field, the empty lot and the job site all afternoon. Slowly. Carefully. Gingerly.

And by the end of the day, I’m thinking that my contributions to this whole experience are value-less. Anyone can take pictures. Everyone IS taking pictures. And pshhhtwah. What’re words? I should have stayed home. I am not needed. I am just taking up space.

After supper I asked if someone could drive Clint and me to an internet connection. We spent a few hours doing errands with Charlotte and Ollie first, with me sneezing every 2 minutes, then hit the internet store at 9 pm. I posted a blog like it was the most important piece of communication ever written, then went to a market to buy a hairbrush, razor, mirror and cold medicine. I also bought Styrofoam cups so that we could share our water with the kids the following day.

We got back after 10 pm and found a buncha kids sitting around my laptop looking at the photos I took on my screen saver slideshow. It was as close as they could get to watching TV before bedtime.

I collapsed into bed at 11, considering the ramifications of wearing my bra all night.

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