Yesterday I was calling around to cancel some credit cards, the ones I got as special deals — get a card, save 20%, etc. — and only used once. (Quick aside: I had three Sears cards. When I called to cancel them the oldest turned out to be my ex-wife’s account. I’m still listed as an authorized user. We divorced in 1999! I ordered a new lawn mower and a stainless steel grill. Not really. It’s a thought, though.)

I called American Express to find out where my free airline ticket is. I haven’t seen a certificate in my statement, and since I used the card for only the one required month, for slightly over the required amount, I wanted to see if they were screwing with me.

Turns out, I have TWO tickets! 50,000 points. Enough for two domestic or one international flight. I horde airline miles like a hog hording mud. I probably have three tickets with two other cards. I can’t decide where to go. Or when.

But, I have to keep the Amex account open. Which means I need to fly this year so I can cancel the card in time to avoid an annual fee.

So, I’ve probably spent, cumulatively, four or five  of the past 30 hours thinking about my birthday trip. My 40th birthday trip. My birthday is in October.

Yes. I know. I would drive Trish to drink if she weren’t a lightweight. Mostly because I bug her with questions. Should I go to the Redwood Forest? Yosemite? Should I go sit on a mountain in Wyoming? I love the West. Maybe a week in Texas, the motherland. Or I could go back to Spain. I loved it there. I feel a kinship. I feel drawn to my roots, my buried, dirty, detrital roots.

I’ll probably go, if I can build up the courage to do it alone, to Oaxaca.

Until 10 years ago Oaxaca was a funny-sounding place that most Americans had never heard of. Now it’s a major tourist attraction. It’s also where my dad was born and where his mother was born, in the 19th century, and reared during a tumultuous time of warring dictators.

Oaxaca, Oaxaca (city, state) has always been like an enchanted kingdom in a fairy tale, to me. An enchanted Mayan kingdom. My father has never wanted to return and doesn’t even like the think about it much. He talks about the European roots of his mother’s family, from Austria, allegedly. And the Spanish — Basque — roots of his father.

But Oaxaca is so mystical. Dia de los Muertos and all of that. Mole, which my mother cooked for special occasions, one of the two or three fond memories of her mother-in-law (all were recipes). Rich embroidery and pottery. Oaxaca is as enchanting as the Basque country. When I was in Spain I blended in with all the other men. I wonder what I would find in Oaxaca — little old ladies, like my Grandma, plump and short with their hair in white buns atop their heads like their own personal little clouds?

The family lore concerning Oaxaca is really rich, and unbelievable. And since my father created his life as he saw fit, I’m sure the history he’s shared is equally … fluid. My grandmother’s family were political targets and had to flee during the revolution. My oldest half-brother, who knew our grandmother best, says she was an illegitimate daughter of the Mexican dictator Diaz. But he’s usually full of shit. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, I suppose.

We took my grandmother’s name as Ella’s middle name: Esperanza. My grandmother, I’m told, was a kick-ass lady.

If I went to Oaxaca I could write a great story, maybe sell it. It’s a continent closer than Spain. But I would understand the language better in Spain, unless everyone speaks Basque. The food would probably agree with me more.

Trish says I’ll always wonder about Oaxaca until I go there.

Maybe that’s part of the appeal of avoiding it. If I don’t realize it, it can remain however I imagine it to be.

I have a little bit of time to think about it.

I’ve never been to Montana, either.

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