Erik explained – and explained and explained – how much they were loving their lives in the country’s capital. They’d originally gone for Liz’s job, but Mexico City had cast a spell on them; when her contract ended, they stayed. He also mentioned that they had a guest room that wasn’t getting enough use. In July, with my the start of my fourth year of grad school looming, I realized I needed a break. So I emailed Erik asking if the room was booked. He said no. I bought a ticket.
When I’m on career panels, I often say that one of the best parts of being a science writer is the colleagues. It’s not hyperbole. They tend to be pretty great people. What’s more, they like to talk about writing. My first day in Mexico City, Erik arrived home from a Spanish class and asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “Well, I really need to finish this essay I’ve been noodling with. And I was thinking you could read it and tell me why the ending’s not quite working.”
His diagnosis was quick – and astute. I needed to cut a paragraph I loved and had been rewriting for two days. Then, he served an afternoon snack of crickets and guacamole. It was just the vacation I needed. As I’ve written about elsewhere, a few years ago, after more than a decade of full-time freelancing, I went back to school. It’s been great, and I love what I’m doing. But most of my friends in my program find my love of writing to be… interesting.
That’s why I still attend conferences like AAAS. It’s fun to drink with people who’ve lost sleep trying to figure out the right structure for a complex story. It’s also fun to visit them. The rest of my Mexico City trip wasn’t spent entirely talking about writing. Erik and Liz are awesome hosts: I saw great art, drank mescal and ate mole, and attempted (and failed) to climb a volcano. But there was also plenty of shop talk – a happy hour with writers from the local AP and Reuters bureaus, dinner with the photographer who took these photos, and off and on discussion of the book Erik’s working on.
And then I flew home, rested and ready for school.