Lesvy Osorio was killed May 2016 at UNAM

Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. I repeat these words to myself as I walk the streets of Mexico City’s Centro Histórico at night, as if to beat them into my body. I’m back in the city for a short reporting trip to continue my coverage of feminicide in Mexico State. It’s been five months since I’ve been here last, but my apprehension about the violence, and how vulnerable I am to it, has grown substantially. I feel afraid to walk alone at night. Fear, a response to months of fieldwork on violence against women, shapes how I navigate Mexico’s giant capital, my first real love. I see the threat of violence everywhere. Walking to a close-by cafe chino for dinner seems much more dangerous to me than it did a few years ago.

Alone, like Mariana Joselín Baltierra was when she stepped out of her house on a late July morning and walked approximately two-hundred meters to a corner store for groceries. Young, like Lesvy Osorio, an aspiring writer and musician. A woman, like Nadia Muciño, Mariana Buendía and the more than fifteen thousand women killed in the country in the last six years. I’m acutely aware of how women that look like me have been kidnapped, raped and killed in Mexico City and Mexico State. Their bodies thrown into rivers, left in empty lots or torn apart and left scattered by men that destroyed their bodies so that no one would remember them. In Mexico I see the threat, or the capacity for people to be this violent, everywhere. Disillusioned, angry, tired and cynical, I wish I could soften my heart and see more of the beauty of this place I love so much, but the stories are so terrible.

A few months ago, Mariana Baltierra left her house and walked past a local butcher shop at around nine in the morning. She never returned home. Instead, she was found later that day lying dead across a butcher’s table, her stomach ripped open. She was raped and killed by a twenty-eight-year-old man that worked in the butcher shop called Carnicasa, or meat shop, in eastern Ecatepec. Lesvy was only twenty-two when she was found dead last year with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck at the National Autonomous University of Mexico campus. She was found lying against a telephone booth in the middle of campus, killed by her boyfriend Jorge Luis González. Killed by men, forgotten by the government offices and laws created to help bring justice, grieved by families.

As I coach myself to try to be brave while I walk, men verbally harass me, beating my body with the reminder that I do not have complete control over my safety and agency in this city. I walk firm and relentless through the shadowy streets as to affirm that this is my body, my city. Walking alone as to defy the fear and despair that has stricken me during the past months. Beating the fear out of my heart, resistant and brave to mourn the women killed.

amar a méxico


I love Mexico. I love how Mexico is resilient. I love Mexico, aware it is hurt, violated and terrorized, contests and affirms itself in light of so much erasure and destruction. I love Mexico multifaceted and shifting. Mexico in Los Angeles, Mexico in New York City, Mexico within and beyond all of its borders. My time in Mexico pushed me to detest how the state has destroyed people’s lives. But seeing how those who that has hurt, from Ayotzinapa to the thousands displaced, continue to fight for the Mexico impunity, racism, misogyny, corruption and profit have tried to erase, wills me to love a Mexico resisting.

En lo que te convierte el amor

En el amor, en estar enamoradx, exploras y confrontas tus inquietudes más profundas e invisibles. Te das cuenta de tu impaciencia, de tu naturaleza inquebrantable, y de tu certeza. Que para nada eres perfectx. Siendo fuerte, hechx irrompible, por tus maestrxs, experiencias y sueños, tu fortaleza se vuelve un vínculo que te une con otro ser implacable, valiente.

Siendo fuerte, te das cuenta que puedes llegar a ser rígidx e insensible. Tu fortaleza también es mecanismo de defensa y se presta a alejarte de tu amor, de la intuición y sensibilidad hacía otrx ser, su felicidad y sufrir.

Pero, tras años de desarrollar un amor propio, tan profundo como el pleno conocimiento de sí mismo, un amor por el conjunto de todo lo que te exalta y alegra de la existencia, el amor te obliga a regresar a tu punto de partida y ver como amarte mejor a ti mismx, como a tu amor, como a la vida.

El amor te convierte en tu version más vulnerable, más susceptible a dolor y sufrimiento. El amor te convierte en alegrías que se tornan pleitos, en fiestas que terminan en atacas de cólera, en el pleno ejercicio de todas tus emociones.

El amor te presenta la oportunidad de ver como seguir amándote a ti mismx como amas y esperas amar a otrx. El amor te presenta la oportunidad de empezar, o abandonar, todo de nuevo. Es un proceso que te obliga a destruir todo y empezar desde el punto que creas necesario, de curación total.

Tú decides en lo que quieres convertirte. Tú, en un acuerdo y compromiso con ti mismx, en sintonia con el amor propio de tu amor, con la poesía que escribirán, que experimentarán, que transcenderán.

El amor, nuestro amor, tu amor, contiene promesas infinitas para ser feliz, para crecer, reintentar, empezar de nuevo, empezar de cero, abandonar, y olvidar.

Al fin de todo, de cualquier amor, te podrás re-encontrar. Enterrado bajo todo el amor agotado, podrás coger y empezar de nuevo.

El amor te regala la hermosa oportunidad de ser plena, apoyar e inspirar amor en otrx, constantemente empezando de nuevo.

Quiero seguir amándote, amándome, siendo sensible al amor, y todo lo que nos brinda.

Mexico City: I moved here to write…

No longer there, I look back and invent the reasons why there was the only place to become me, la escritora. As I move East, my attachment to Mexico City is weaved by gratitude:

Put simply, that’s all I want to do. A privilege, a dream, a luxury, a far fetched idea made reality by pure conviction and stubbornness. Here, the mid-afternoon rainfall that purifies my lungs is unwritten poetry, the urban marvels and wonders nestled at every corner is untapped inspiration, the moonlight and silence and noise is inspiration for prose and ode alike.

Here, lives courage, defiance, struggle and the resistance of people and movements that must and will always make themselves present. Here, for me, journalism is as important as the personal essay because they are one in the same. Survival, resistance, love, and homage. What inspires me irremediably and that I know I must write for myself and for others.

Here, inspiration and love seeps into my pores, fills my stomach, perfumes my hair, salts my michelada, and lets be frank, even pays for my cab ride.

This inspiration is as old and decaying as the baked lake bed beneath my feet. It is also new and flourishing…

todo cambia

Forever indebted to you, Negra.

me siento débil ante el peso del cambio, del tiempo transcurrido desde que escribí palabras ya muy lejanas. busco desesperada la inspiración que antes me inundaba. busco las flores radiantes que ya parecen esconder sus caras del sol. busco llenarme del deseo implacable que me llevó, y obligó a regresar a la ciudad de méxico: convicción irremediable. inspiración casi celestial que llena el cuerpo y hace los extremos de tu ser pulsar en afirmación de que eres, aquí. es observar, de lejos, los caminos que has trazado por Borderlands/La Frontera, queriendo, desesperadamente regresar a dónde estabas más feliz. el incesante andar te lleva por dónde debes viajar, por un dolor que es crecimiento, nostalgia que es lejanía, sabiduría que es aprendizaje. no hay paso atrás. no puedes ser la mujer ni escritora que antes fuiste. transfronteriza, pasajera en trance, mujer indomable: tu camino queda adelante. el ciclo empieza de nuevo, los retos y oportunidades de renacer marcan el camino que empieza con tu primer, nuevo paso.

Mexico City: A Transfronteriza’s Last Days

“Tengo nostalgia de un país que no existe todavía en el mapa.” Chinatown, Downtown Mexico City.

I’m sitting at Muebles Sullivan surrounded by a few bags stuffed with clothes and toiletries, my dry cleaning, and an incredible lightness of being. As usual, the coffee is delicious and life passing me by beyond the lemon trees brings me a subtle sense of satisfaction. A lemon scented, caffeinated gratitude for Mexico City.

My journey continues and the time has come to lug my clothes and emotions back home. Before this moment I feel I had wandered around burdened by the heavy weight of suffering, anxiety, and the overwhelming desire to live, stubborn and strictly, in Mexico City. I fought for it. Unceasingly, I fought my family, the world, and myself for this moment of fulfillment and sense of completeness.

I will journey back to my family in about ten days. The map of my retreat forward is as follows: I will walk through the National Mall in about two weeks, saunter down the streets of Jackson Heights and Bushwick in about three, sleep in my childhood room in five, roll round La Cita’s dance-floor in six, lay out in Rosarito’s beaches in ten, and move all of my hopes and dreams to New York City in seventeen.

Even from here, it all seem so far away from Mexico City. The retreat forward is decided on and the start of graduate studies at New York University is imminent. It’s wondrous and I’m thankful. Especially to this city. For the inspiration and conviction it inspired in me to try ceaselessly to be here. To explore then destroy my fears, doubts, and anxieties. To tap into my intuition and prioritize self-love.

It taught me to be flexible, to flow, and embrace my condition as a transfronteriza. To push my own limits, extend myself across all the borders that had asphyxiated me since birth. It subjected me to deep suffering, an experience that threw me into depression in senior year of college but one that eventually became the catalyst for my self-sufficiency and independence.  And it taught me to navigate the sometimes volatile, sometimes deeply deeply magical terrain of my own emotions. I explored my spirit and self fully and deeply these past five years because Mexico City enlivened an inexorable hunger and inspiration to live, to feel, to be.

I was heavy with all of these experiences. I held on to that truth, to Mexico City, to the possibility of fully and beautifully being. Because it is such a beautiful lesson and experience to have. And I think it was necessary, to feel the weight of being–to feel how it physically and emotionally imposes itself, reminds us we are alive, and inspires us to navigate the world aware of ourselves, our life, and our creative promise.

Now, I feel light with that lesson. I feel grateful for that weight. I feel happy because this city deeply shook me, woke me, and loved me. It inhabits me and will continue to inform who I am to become. I will be bound to it as long as I remain committed to letting it go, to exploring myself, as I propel myself forward.

Mexico City taught me to be, my beloved teacher and companion in these perpetual journeys as a transfronteriza.

Forever grateful, and in love.