Last Friday night I was supposed to perform my show, The Deportee’s Wife.
I got a heads up from my friend S that there was a rumor zooming around town: A curfew was in effect for that night.
Who set up the curfew? The narcos, i.e. the drug lords. They apparently sent out emails. The curfew was for 8pm. So that “innocent” people wouldn’t get hurt when the narcos battled it out for control of the state.
I didn’t think much about it. The email sounded a wee bit fishy to me. The show must go on and all that.
I figured that I would call for a taxi after the show, as opposed to simply hailing one off the street, as I usually did.
However, over the course of an hour, things changed profoundly. A whole set of events happened that resulted in my show being cancelled for that night.
Then the issue was how to get home. I was no more than ten minutes away by car from my house. R was at home. We live in the centro, i.e., we’re near the tourist center of our city.
My friend A was going to drive me home. But there was crazy traffic on the street. Traffic like I’d never seen before on that street at that hour. Everyone panicking to get home by 8pm.
While I wanted to be home with R, I was afraid to get close to the centro, where our house is. There was a rumor flying that the military was now taking it’s position in the zocalo, the main square.
The zocalo is ten minutes walking distance from our house.
There were rumors pressing down about more narco-related killings, all happening at the same time all over the city.
I just wanted to get home.
When you grow up in economic privilege, as I did, the impending threat of violence is not something that you live with on a daily basis.
That’s the luxury that I grew up with. Even as a New Yorker.
I never felt that privilege more than at that moment on the phone, my voice catching as I talked to my friend S again, trying to decide what my next move was.
R called me from the roof of our house. No military presence as far as he could see.
But it was a whole, “Better safe than sorry” scenario. No one in the city wanted to tempt fate.
A got me home in one piece, and I was grateful.
Practically no one was on the street for the rest of the night. Ghost town, indeed.
I cried when I got home. The tears were for two specific reasons:
1. While Mexico plays a huge role in these devastating drug wars, the US does as well. So the two passports that I own as a dual citizen are a tangible testament to the two main characters in this drugged-out psychodrama.
2. If things ever were to escalate with these drug wars, and I mean reach truly unforseen levels, then what happens with R and I? Where do we live?
Now, in retrospect, the curfew that was supposedly on a state-wide level for the whole weekend ended up feeling like a whole lot of head games to me and to many others as well.
By Saturday night, a lot of people were out and about. I was not, but many others moved freely all over town.
The local government had nothing to say on Friday night, when the craziness first hit the fan.
The reporter on the local news said on Friday night that the narco emails were unsubstantiated, and people should do their normal routine. And then in the next breath, the reporter said that it was, however, “recommended that people stay in their homes.”
Mixed message, anyone?
So far, federal helicopters with a sharpshooter at the ready flew three times over my house today, and they were so close that my laptop rattled on my desk here.
And that’s not a rumor: I saw and heard the chopper and sharpshooter with my own eyes.
Kids, it’s a little hard these days to separate the head games from the hard truths.