While we were in Mexico this past winter, friends casually mentioned needing a cab to the airport, and I immediately volunteered. At the reference to a 6:30 a.m. pickup, I regretted my impulse offer, but it was too late; the words were out. And they were accepted – promise tendered; promise taken.
I’m not a morning person but figure I can manage. If we get up at 6:15 a.m., we can dress, brush our teeth, down our pills with an OJ splash, be at their place by 6:30 and back in Ajijic before 7:30. We’ll have time for our hour-long brisk walk before heading for Open Circle and brunch with our Sunday friends.
I forget we have dinner plans with another couple the night before, which entails cocktails at their home before going to Manix for more drinks. At the restaurant, I drink three glasses of wine on top of what I drank earlier. Luckily, the band quits at 9:00 p.m. and the place empties.
We’re in bed by 10:00 p.m. Hubbie sets the alarm clock before falling asleep. I watch television.
Later, tossing and turning, I wonder what I’ve done. I’m responsible for ensuring two people arrive at the airport on time. What if Hubbie and I sleep through the alarm? What if the car doesn’t start in the morning? This situation is even more stressful than when Hubbie and I return to Canada and we worry about catching our flight.
I doze for several minutes before waking to the buzzing alarm clock at midnight. Hubbie groans, turns on the light, and silences the alarm.
I try to sleep. My head throbs. Twenty minutes later, the radio blasts forth again. Hubbie repeats the process.
That’s when I worry whether he’s set the alarm correctly and whether it’ll work in the morning.
My headache, I finally realize, is an early hangover. I toss and turn; Hubbie is restless, too. At one point, I hear him traipsing downstairs. Three times he’s up for bathroom treks.
I sleep for occasional minutes, but mostly I’m awake. A band marching down our street wakes me at 2:00 a.m., and soon there’s a live concert outside our bedroom, where it remains for too long before the raucous is out of earshot.
Periods of eerie silence are marred by intrusions from barking dogs, catfights and incessant roosters. I compose four short stories in my head. A brainstorm possesses me to write one titled “Sleepless Night” to submit to one of Ajijic’s publications.
At least once an hour I bounce up in fright. With eyes caked shut, I can barely read the numbers glowing on the clock. I still my urges to copy hubby’s forays to the washroom. My head wants to explode.
Hubbie snores beside me. I wonder if I should visit my computer. There comes a point where it’s too late to sleep, but I worry that eventually we’ll drift off and never wake up. It’ll be dark at 6:15 a.m.; the sun won’t stir us.
A last glimpse of the clock reads 5:45 a.m.
The alarm blares. I jump out of a sound sleep. While brushing my teeth, Hubbie appears.
“You don’t have to hurry. It’s only 6:00.”
“6:00! You were supposed to set it for 6:15.”
“I know, but I wanted to make sure we got up in time.”
At 6:15, we’re ready. Our friends live a block away, and it takes two minutes to get there. There’s no sign of life. Did they oversleep? We can’t ring their bell; I don’t remember their condo number.
On the dot of 6:30, their gate swings open. We load their suitcases in the trunk. I hate driving in the dark, even as a passenger, and I hadn’t realized darkness would still prevail at that time.
A skunk skulks on the Libriemento. The highway is bumpier than usual and traffic is horrendous. The drive takes forever. We unload their luggage and hug goodbye.
“Keep writing,” Jim says.
Yeah, no problem: I write in my sleep.
Before reaching the highway, we pass Federale who mill about a car. I cringe, remembering our foreign plates and expired FM3.
The sun shows a trace of its face. The ride home is smoother, even when Hubbie careens around the carcass of a recently deceased horse. A few miles farther, a mangled dog rests by the road. My eyes open at the most inopportune moments.
The skunky smell still lingers on the Libriemento. The morning becomes brighter, but my eyes are heavy and my head hurts. I want to skip Open Circle and brunch and crawl into bed.
Instead, I don my wrist-weights and we go for our walk. Exhausted, I shower and dress, grab a diet Coke for its caffeine properties, and off we saunter to Open Circle.
“Hey, there’s a taxi stand,” I mumble to Hubbie.
(This was printed in the Lake Chapala Review, May 15, 2012)