I returned to Morelia. I traveled through time and turbulence and I sat at a table in the Portales drinking coffee with my son who would not exist but for that city. I cried. I cried when we arrived, I cried when we left, I was overwhelmed with moments of joy and tenderness many times. I couldn't remember where things were. My memories did not follow the map of the city, but were layered one on top of the other like the blocks of stone that build cathedral walls. Or perhaps more like walls that have fallen down and the stones topple over one another in piles and pyramids.
Nobody remembered me or cared very much when I went to visit the school where I taught English. I didn't really expect to be remembered, but I felt let down all the same. Alejandro teased me about expecting nothing to have changed when I was sad that the tables at the Portales weren't still covered in the same colorful tablecloths. I kept calling him by his father's name.
We stepped off the plane, and there they were, Alejandro's grandparents, and his aunt Laura and her husband. We were greeted with wide open arms and kisses, everyone so happy to finally meet this grown up child that they had only ever seen photos of, the son of their only son. We shed layers of clothing and walked into the bright sun, smiling for photos.
They fed us delicious homecooked food, corundas, pozole, enchiladas, sopes. We sat in hot living rooms and made small talk. I re-learned to ride the combis, the public transportation system made up of hundreds of mostly VW vans painted with different colored stripes representing routes. We took the Rojo 1 from our hotel to Angela and Daniel's house. They gave us gifts; they showed us the pictures of Alejandro as a baby, and of my parents, and of Alejandro's father and a younger me that they had on their wall.
I was reminded over and over that I have so much, and I waste much of it; they have little and they share it. But what I wanted was to give Alejandro a deeper, truer, richer sense of who he is and where he comes from. And now he has that. Morelia and the people there are a part of him and always have been but now he knows it, he can feel it in his bones.
This is the exact place where I sat when I met Alejandro's father. This is the place where he began. It does not remember me anymore, but it has learned his name; Morelia recognizes him as one of its own.