I've known just a little about what it's like to feel trapped. My brother once latched shut the old wooden icebox door after I'd so curiously, naively stepped inside. He was two. I was four. It was terribly embarrassing, and dark in more ways than one. And in Chinatown one afternoon to see the New Year dragons twist and wind their way down Mott, Rachel and I were forced to consider an impossible escape to the roof of a Canal Street bus stop, mashed and pushed and bizarrely trapped in a mass of mostly elderly, Chinese women. They were gruntingly relentless. God bless their assertive souls.
I've felt trapped here in Mexico a number of times, too. Between Patricio's fears and my considerable lassitude, both directed at taking the chancy, traffic-slowed microbus trip to the centro, my haunts are primarily limited to our home, and cabin fever has a way of flaring up in its edgy restlessness. Accustomed to so much liberty--and safety--and subway stops nearby, I've now been learning to make a universe of a neighborhood, trying my best to transform feelings of enclosure into something much less confining, like the freedom to surfeit myself on books.
I know that my position isn't really all too dire. Patricio eventually arrives in his shining white horse (well, red Jetta, and really, what's the difference?), and whisks me away to see new people, new places and an infinity of interest-piquing things. It isn't freedom like I knew it, but it's a freedom, nonetheless; it's in my power to suggest where we might go.
But having slushed around that muzzy boundary that lies between license and restraint, I feel a twinge when I walk toward the store or the market, passing between the rows of houses that often have a dog kept on the roof.
It's so common to have a dog. Or three. And not walk them. Ever. Some have the luxury of a front or back patio, or even a yard. Some are let to meander through the streets, grouping together in spots of shade like the neighborhood kids. Those dogs on the roof, though, are what really make me sigh. They're often large, big-pawed dogs that work as well as a house's alarm, padding around back and forth and watching the street for anything strange.
Heaven knows I'm still a cat person, preferring their liberated, freedom-loving ways. Yet I can't look up at a single roof dog without wishing a heavy wish that I could take it for a run, let it bark for sheer pleasure, come home satisfied and slow.
But up here where we live, in Nicolás Romero, the dog culture doesn't involve that yet. I'm not certain it ever will, trapped in a different way of thinking about the way one's dog should live. At least, I suppose, they're well out of the way in case a Chinatown New Year crowd comes pressing down the street. I'm not so sure those feisty little women would be willing to cede them their space, and where they sit, they'd certainly be--for once in their lives--top dog.