The city is getting into my body. I can feel it in my lungs and in my eyes. I can feel it in my brain and in my muscles. The air is thin and yet thick at the same time. It makes my lungs burn and my throat raw. The low oxygen at this altitude is replaced by car fumes which do little to ease the adjustment.
I noticed it a lot today, making my way up through a library designed by Alberto Kalach. The tall, geometric interior of the building goes up seven floors, and at the top, my head was reeling. Vertigo made walking between the precariously jutting bookshelves an extreme sport. I had to take an hour to sit down and read a book. I was in the right place for it at least.
I originally put the exhaustion I was feeling down to jet lag, but today I finally recognized it for what it was. High altitude lack of oxygen was familiar. It was something that always takes adapting to at the beginning of a new snow season, except the air in ski resorts is pretty pure. Mexico cities’ air is like petrol soup. I will adjust though, I may just have to take up smoking, the little filters will clean the air.
The library was incredible, a surprise find this morning, and only twenty minutes away. It has a brutalist façade, but a space-age interior. The atrium stretches the length of the building, reaching far up into the recesses of the roof. On either side, platforms of glass and steel protrude from the walls in seemingly chaotic positions. It doesn’t look like it should be standing, and yet there it is.
I took my time in there, not only was it full of books, but the architecture was phenomenal. The height and sheer drops from the platforms made my chest tight, but I couldn’t help myself. I went to the top floor, stood by the edge, and let the vertigo frazzle my nerves. I grabbed some fresh air from one of the outdoor balconies, which oddly, gave me no thrills at all. It did give me time to think, who the hell designs a library as precarious as this on a fault line?
But Leo, I hear you ask, why were you so fragile? Mezcal.
I went to the meet-up yesterday. It was such a relief to be able to just chat shit in my own language for a while. Call me ignorant, close-minded, or whatever, but I was socially starved. It’s my own fault for not learning the language yet. Either way, there was lots of chatting in English to be had.
I stopped for a quick drink before I got there to quell any anxiety I had. The dude beside me corrected my Spanish, kindly teaching me the polite way to ask for things. I was very appreciative. We got to talking and it turned out he was a writer of architectural journalism. It wouldn’t be unfair to say I was a little jealous. He had a career in two of my bigger passions. He was great conversation, I love chance meetings like that, they just reaffirm the decision I have made to leave my loves behind. We swapped socials and I hope to meet him again.
The meetup itself was a funny one. We all met in a rather poppin’ park. My housemate goes there on a Saturday to do dancing lessons. The park at this time was bustling. Music, dancing, food stalls, and all the other bells and whistles of Mexican streets filled the area with life. We stood around, shaking hands, and introducing ourselves. It was going quite well I felt.
We were then corralled to another spot away from all the fun and games. I didn’t know what was going on. Had someone planned an event? I followed on anyway, chatting to a French Canadian. He didn’t seem to know where we were going either. Someone was walking three pigs around the gardens.
We were led to a clearing by a dry lake. There wasn’t anywhere to sit so I perched on a rock and decided to sit back and see what played out. There was a guy waiting for us, he seemed to be the man in charge. In charge of what I had no idea at all. He gave a big clap and introduced himself.
“Alright guys, thank you all so much for coming today, I’m [Name here] and it’s great to see so many new faces, I thought we might start with a few icebreaker questions. Let’s go around in a circle and introduce ourselves and what our favorite superpower would be” I was one second from getting up and leaving, this was my idea of hell. My chosen superpower would be to piss and shit someone else’s pants but I wasn’t about to say that.
An hour or so of conversation that was organized and timed by the honcho went by. I think we were supposed to use his conversation cues but I have been holding conversations since I could talk, cues aren’t really my thing. Organized fun is bad enough, organized conversation just seems a bit remedial. I know he meant well though and it did give me a chance to chat with a whole bunch of new people, sus them out a bit, and introduce myself. The French Canadian dipped almost immediately, he was evidently not digging it.
Once that was over, we did what all self-respecting adults do when they want to continue talking, and went to the nearest bar. Drinks flowed, conversation was had, and I think a few potential new friends could have been made. I met an English man who was looking for a new flat at the end of the month. We were gonna move in together until I got a disgustingly cheap offer to live with my current host in their lovely house.
Another month of CDMX is on the way and I’m just about feeling like I’m getting into the swing of it. I did end up in a sketchy area on my walk to Garibaldi square today. I did not feel welcome and watching a bunch of bin men brawling really set my hangover nerves ringing. That’s the first time though, I’ll just have to be more careful.