Postcard story: Settling in

Mexico

I’m one of seven billion people in the world — in the universe, as far as I know. One of 25 million in this city. One of one in this apartment. How is it possible to be lonely in a city of 25 million people?

The toilet runs constantly, a whispery shhwshhwshhw all night long, providing the soundtrack to my insomnia. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to ask to have it fixed. The stray cat I let sneak in’s asthmatic breathing is louder but oddly soothing.

The not-quite silence gives way to the man downstairs trying to sing his daughter to sleep again. He has a remarkably bad voice, but there is something touching in his attempt. Something nostalgic. My efforts to decipher his tune inspire more insomnia, but it seems to work for the girl. She gradually stops fussing and the voice tapers off.

What didn’t I tell them all, in that first e-mail? That I keep thinking “what the hell have I done?” I left a good job, a good apartment, good friends. I live in a tiny apartment where cockroaches frolic at night. I don’t know the language. I don’t know anyone. I’m becoming a loca chica de gatos.

I’m taking Spanish lessons. It isn’t going well.

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