When someone with an accent spoke to him, he’d reply extravagantly slow as if he were teaching ESL—regardless of how fluent their English was.
Finding a common cause in the margins
By CJ Sommerfeld, Production Assistant
Something odd happens when we submerge ourselves in an unfamiliar space. Something similar happens when that space includes novel interactions with new people. You notice more and become intrigued by the components of these people and places that otherwise would have flown under the radar.
I spent the last five weeks in Mexico with my partner; we left Canada to escape rain-induced depression and one of its worst by-products: creative paralysis. While there we visited Canadian friends (who ran away from Canada’s winter for similar reasons), and Mexican friends and family who aren’t acquainted with the power vitamin D holds over one’s creative psyche. Despite having been far from home, we were surrounded by social familiarity for most of those five weeks. With that came the emotional ease of already being acquainted with those around us. It was only in the days before we flew back to Vancouver that we entered new social territory.
The Alabama girl on her honeymoon
A girl who was doing weird things with her face was the first person I acknowledged after checking into the hostel. She sat in my line of vision at the hostel bar the first time I walked up to buy two of the cheapest beer. I was unable to read her expression(s) because it seemed like even she was confused about how she felt. She ordered in English and the bartender asked where she was from, “Alabama.” Considering her accent, the bartender didn’t understand a word that she’d said. “The United States,” she clarified “we’re on our honeymoon.” Her mouth moved a smile and the opposite multiple times during this interaction. I never did see her new husband, she was often laying by the pool reading by herself, or alone drinking lavishly garnished cocktails in tall, curvy glasses.
Rory or Roric
Rory (or Roric) came into my periphery a day before any conversation occurred. I had just acknowledged the Alabama honeymooner; we had left the bar having instead opted to have our beer by the pool. Rory (or Roric) was also by the pool, except instead of having a beer, he was consumed in his guitar. He wasn’t playing a song; he was quietly plucking strings in a cadence that seemed like he was learning some riff. The reason why I don’t know which of the two variations was his name is that regardless of the time of the day, he was subdued by some drug or another. I heard ‘Rory’ when he first introduced himself to me, but throughout the next few days, I heard the others referring to him by what sounded like an Eastern-European version akin to ‘Roric’. He wore the same wrinkled, Hawaiin button-up and straw cowboy hat for the entirety of the four days we spent together.
One morning he ate a block of cheese and two bags of popcorn from the OXXO for breakfast. “The hostel shouldn’t claim to offer continental breakfast if all they give you is a couple of pieces of bread and a mini-coffee.” He told us one day while lying on the beach. He was onto something, the 4-ounce coffee cups were hardly enough to be considered a decent coffee portion. When someone with an accent spoke to him, he’d reply extravagantly slow as if he were teaching ESL—regardless of how fluent their English was.
He’d left Canada after the vaccine passport was introduced, and had been in Mexico since. As means of income, he would message real estate agents on Instagram and offer them the service of a videographer to create a marketing video of the homes which they were selling. He’d charge the real estate agents a hefty sum, and then pay the videographer a small portion of that; capitalism at its finest. He told me that he was making upwards of $20,000 per month, although I didn’t believe him considering that he was staying in a hostel’s shared dorm room.
The newly married Mexican guy
Jaded by the fact that Cabo San Lucas is drenched in legal (pharmaceuticals) and illegal (everything else) drugs, the unnatural position in which this newly married guy’s shoulders were held up to his ears—as if he were permanently shrugging, mislead me into perceiving him as being under the influence of something elevating. I never met his new wife, and in hindsight, perhaps he had married the girl from Alabama, although I never did see the two of them interact.
We met him the second morning during breakfast. We decided that we were going to make friends by asking around where the best beach was. We asked the first person our age to walk by our table who happened to be this guy. He pulled up his YouTube channel to show us a video he’d taken of a sea turtle-specked floor: Playa Chileno. He told us that it was a romantic beach and that he’s gone there with his new wife—which is when he flashed us his gold wedding band. We weren’t looking for something romantic, but rather for new friends so we passed.