Last Thursday, I moved the count up to twice. It was the second time I'd taken the car and driven someplace I'd never been before, captain of the Jetta all the way to Huixquilucan. Meeting up with Patricio later in the afternoon, he took one look at me, gave me a kiss, and pronounced the truth: I was liberated. I had made another small odyssey by myself, safely and easily, with a side trip to Starbucks for an early-arrival cup of orange and spices hot tea.
I wasn't the only liberated girl on Thursday morning, though; Iztaccíhuatl was also granted freedom from the smog. Skirting the northern heights of the city, I looked to the left three times before allowing myself to finally believe it was true. For the first time in nearly a year, the "sleeping woman" of Aztec legend--the volcano Iztaccíhuatl--became the jewel of my morning-drive view.
So rare are the times when we see her from the north--revealed when the smog is miraculously windswept away--that her figure seems increasingly more mythical. The legend has arrived in varied tellings and different causes, but the effect is the same--it's North America's contribution to one of the oldest stories we know, when two lovers die of heartbreak in the wake of fickle beliefs and big miscommunication.
Iztaccíhuatl was a princess in love with a warrior who fought in the name of her father. The king gave his blessing for the marriage of the two, on a condition he believed impossible to complete. He sent Popocatépetl, his daughter's betrothed, to the battle fields far south in Oaxaca. Returning alive would win his promised wedding. Popo did survive, but Izta tragically didn't. She'd been told her beloved was killed as he fought, and her life ended there with the false news of his death. Popocatépetl soon died of grief, too, arriving to find his Izta no longer alive. Both princess and warrior were turned into stone, the mountain that is Popo watching over her night and day.
I sure am glad Patricio and I don't share a story so sad. Ours is a joyful polar opposite. Still, we've been a bit like those two, together so much of the time, day and night. I'll be making another odyssey by myself for three weeks, beginning tomorrow at noon. I'm as excited as a puppy to be with many of my stateside friends, but the trip isn't the liberating kind like my short one last Thursday. I'll miss Patricio very much, and I'm glad I don't have to fight a far-off war to come home and be with him again on October 10th.