Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark | Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The record player

I don’t know what these rooms were used for before Norma started renting them out, but I suspect her extended family lived here, maybe her immediate family, or maybe Norma lived here as a child and then inherited the house. You can definitely see the age of this place; the cracks in the patio’s cement are deep, and the peeling paint on the walls reveals many other colors, other coats. Our rooms show the years, too. Kendra’s room, especially, holds many secrets, secrets that introduce themselves to us one by one. First we looked at the certificates that hang on the wall; Sergio tells us they are his grandfather’s diplomas from high school and university.

Next, we find books in Spanish, dusty, moth-eaten books published in the 60’s, among the books left behind by foreigners - English-Spanish dictionaries, novels in German, old Guatemalan guidebooks. We examine the curling pictures pasted to the walls, the old calendars, the dusty vases of artificial flowers. Then, two nights ago, Kendra discovered the record collection.

The collection comes with a record player, which you’d think was a boom-box from the ‘80s, except it opens up and then there’s the needle. Kendra dragged the player off the shelf, dusted it off, plugged it into the wall, and drew one of the records from the shelves. For some reason we hadn’t noticed these records before, but there are dozens of them, stacked together and pushed back on the shelf, half-concealed behind a curtain.

The records sound great on the machine. On the first night, we laughed at the covers, giggled at the lyrics, which consist of lots of te quiero’s and some Spanglish. But the records have grown on us. We like the India Maya, a band from the 70’s who have produced a number of records—Norma has them all. Many of the record covers have the band’s phone number, so you can call them if you want them to play at your party. Now, in the evenings, I fall asleep to the sound of those records, whose melodies jolted me at first but have now become familiar. I hum along with the songs and fall asleep to the music, the funny, jerky songs that have become part of the fabric of this trip.

1 comment:

  1. A phone number on the album so you can call the band for a gig. It doesn't get any better than this.