Concorde (a story of making meaning)

As I sped through security in my own line and walk into the Concorde lounge, the air was noticeably charged with excitement—and there were only four others there, so far. By the time the lounge began to fill with people and I was snacking on hors d’oeuvres and champagne, the air was electric—the kind small children feel waiting for Christmas morning or for their turn on an amusement park ride. In fact, I felt a giddiness that I can’t really explain and that I haven’t really felt in a long time. That’s what it was like waiting to board the Concorde. My attention was interrupted by an audible gasp from an elderly woman sitting near me. I looked to her and then followed her eyes out the window as the plane was towed to the gate. Her reaction was honest and reflexive. I knew by looking into her eyes (her hand was over her mouth) that she had looked forward to this for years—that she didn’t think it would ever actually happen. She had spoken for more than half the people in the lounge who were all peering silently out the floor-to-ceiling windows as this graceful plane was towed into place. It was just a matter of time, now. Boarding the Concorde, I was in a bit of a haze. I tried to take in every sensation, inevery sense, and imprint it in my memory. This was the one and only chance I’d have to ride this legend and I felt pretty lucky. The Concorde stopped flying forever just a few weeks later. Inside, the plane was cramped and...

Patrimonia Hoy (a story of making meaning)

It finally feels like home. Two years ago, I got on the bus in Michoacan, to head to the Mexico City barrio where my uncle Miguel, his family, and half the people I grew up with have established themselves. My friends Jose and Rodrigo introduced me to Carolina a week after I got there, and helped me get a job at trucking company, too. I would never have considered coming to the city without knowing people on whom I could totally depend. Having gotten married to Carolina a year ago, I knew I’d need to, eventually, make a place of our own. My in-laws wanted to help, though they didn’t have much themselves. Neither did Uncle Miguel or my friends. Fortunately, I was able to stake a claim on some land adjacent to my uncle’s place. I’d done pretty well at the hotel, and had some money in my pocket. I wanted to do something worthwhile with it, but wasn’t sure what exactly. Of course, I wanted to build a house on my land, but concrete was expensive. Still, with Carolina expecting I knew I needed to do something- we were already enough of a burden on my in-laws. I’d seen the name “CEMEX” on cement bags, but didn’t know much about them. Then one day, six months ago, Uncle Miguel told me about a friend of his who was part of a kind of cement buying club, sponsored by CEMEX, called “Patrimonio Hoy.” The friend said it was a great way to build better places for everyone. So a bunch of us, including half of Carolina’s family, went...

Build a Bear (a story of making meaning)

It’s my daughter’s birthday. Gina is seven and has always had a thing for stuffed animals. She, and her best friend Meg, love to stage melodramas with their toys, giving them names, detailed characteristics and roles to play in an imaginary world of their creation. She and Meg love to dress their animals in different costumes and accessories. Sometimes that seems like the most fun of all for them. So, for her birthday, I take Gina and Meg to a new “Build a Bear Workshop” that’s opened a few blocks away. My sister said it would be perfect for her. Sort of a store, sort of an arts ‘n’ crafts factory it seemed the ideal place for an energetic, sensitive and creative girl like Gina to express herself. I walk in and am instantly enchanted by the colors, and the inviting, soft quality of the “store.” I can’t exactly describe it, but I feel like I’m in a fantasy land or, at least, some place different than reality. After moving a few feet into the space, I see that there is a simple structure organizing everyone’s activities. There are stations clearly visible that will guide us in the creation of a custom-made teddy bear. Step by step, Gina and Meg walk through the “Choose Me” station, where they find the exact bear type they want… … To the “Hear Me” station, where they choose the sound they want their bear to make when squeezed… … To the “Stuff Me” area where they control how soft their bear will be by choosing its stuffing… … To the “Fluff Me” station...