cities for creatures of pure wonder

From the film, Los Angeles Plays IItself
From the film, Los Angeles Plays Itself

“A single step into the past is enough for me to rediscover this sensation of strangeness which filled me when I was still a creature of pure wonder, in a setting where I became aware of the presence of a coherence for which I could not account but which sent its roots into my heart.” –
Louis Aragon, Paris Peasants 

After traveling home through a daze of side-eyed glances and murmuring strangers casting shadows under neon street signs, I collapse exhausted onto my bed. Intoxicated off a seemingly endless weekend of living. Hallucinating on the thrill of traveling within and beyond the city limits. A city that’s my home, that I know, that I have tried to flee and fight a millions times over.

This physical repose allows me to become overwhelmed with the inebriation, conversation, music, faces, and sights blessed upon me by amazing company, still palpable through tact and memory. Pressed upon my whole being is an affirmation that I am, and have always been meant to be, an unceasing traveler of and for life. For four days, I shared life with a kindred traveler spirit first befriended in Mexico City, and with new and old friends.

For four days, we abandoned all will to excess and serendipity. Propelled by the energy of the collective wanderlust of our borderless party crew, I partied the way I have rolled around and danced in dozens of dance floors in Mexico City. I voyaged through streets so intimately familiar to me with luggage the way I walked through the cobblestone streets of Oaxaca, Mexico for the first time. And from high above, I overlooked the limitless horizon of a city, stretching in every possible direction, a vision so new yet so familiar to one discerned from the balcony of the Torre Latino in DF.

Yet this inspiration that permeates my spirit with bliss feels like the result of all my travels and experiences concentrated into a mere weekend. As if the overwhelming happiness I experience is the sum of hundreds of days of travel, of four years packed into four days in Los Angeles. Because while these moments transport me to a different physical and temporal terrain, I feel newly aquatinted with the beauty that resides in the familiar and the possibility present in the everyday. Through celebrating with friends who also yearn for art, love, and punk rock midnight living, I learned about how thrilling it is to travel even when home, even when neither there nor then. But in the living, breathing, exhilarating moment.

The abyss of nocturnal revelry and the luminosity of daybreak peering through windowsills reminded me that it’s possible to feel the intoxication inspired by traveling anywhere and everywhere. As the clock relentlessly winds and begins again, inspired by the sun and moon’s cyclical voyage across the city’s sky, people move through this city often overlooking opportunities to connect with and contemplate each other and their surroundings. To do so is to miss the opportunity to peer into worlds that affirm our connection to far away places while also helping to deepen our connection with the place that physically sustains us, the concrete urban incubator of the mundane and intoxicating existence of our everyday lives.

This is a lesson and a truth unbeknown to thousands of people too afraid to share a conversation with a pensive Kenyan smoking on the steps of the Los Angeles Public Library. Of lying on the grass following the trail of a hummingbird that flutters through swaying branches of the jacaranda tree. Of sneaking up high-rise lofts to discern the waning sun reflected on the diaphanous and translucent arrangement of rising structures and deepening human silence.

During these last few days, I felt incredibly overwhelmed with the certainty and gratitude of fully and wildly living in the present and expansive city of LA. It’s as if in living intensely, I was finally able to travel enough to connect to hundreds of places, sensations, perspectives, simultaneously. In my search and hunger to travel, travel as a place to get to, I had never offered myself the opportunity to occupy and live within that journey. To feel it permeating my skin, in the surf and garage punk tunes rousing a dance floor, in the collective satisfaction of living.

Arriving to the all too familiar place, neighborhood, home, bed, I am physically and spiritually reeling with the highness of living and traveling. Meditating on the assertion that all of us are capable of perpetually exploring and navigating both new and old terrain in search of wisdom and stimulation of the senses, mind, body, and spirit.

To travel, in the measure that it transports us to our past, is to step forward stringing along each sight and person that has inspired wonder, searching and accepting this in every place. And as I write, and as this dazed and delirious feeling leaves my body, left in its place is this lesson on travel and place. Something I have searched for yet is what the city now whispers and what its denizens struggle to keep silent.

The affirmation flows through my bedroom window. The hum of human activity and wind blowing through the tree branches kindles what’s born within all of us. The certainty that life, expressed in our perpetual travels, is not a destination but an unceasing journey, that deepens, extends, animates and awakens.

 

noches de neón discotequero

Tijuana desde Altamira, fotografa anonima y chingona
Tijuana desde Altamira

Es increíble.  Me corazón se anida en esta frontera borrosa. El asombro del fin de semana vive en mi, tan lejos de aquellas calles, de la rockola, de la pista de baile más bella del mundo.

Entra por mi ventana el mismo viento que movió y desordenó mi noche y día en la frontera. Es un momento en donde el tiempo por fin refleja un mundo interior, siempre enérgico, feliz, fluido.

Baile en pistas de baile que pulsaban con vida, alumbrados con la energía fluorescente de cientos de cuerpos. Camine por calles sin rumbo ni nombre, pero con un destino fijo.

Movernos sin cesar, comer, ingerir, beber, abrazar. Guiadxs por un apetito insaciable por el arte en cada encuentro y rostro, por el gozar y la fotografía de lo presente e imperceptible. Por el tacto, la reunion, y la aventura.

Son contados las noches que nos entregamos al alboroto de todo lo vivo, a vivir sin sosiego, donde el descanso se vuelve superfluo, y los cuerpos sobrehumanos. Tijuana nos lo cede y regala. Lo gozamos hasta ver el cielo púrpura del amanecer de un nuevo día, la espera de una nueva noche.

¿Sin rumbo, a donde podemos llegar? Interminables noches de neón discotequero. Alimentación y recuerdo.

oaxaca nocturna e incandescente

As I unwind from the inebriety of a dance
and music-filled weekend in Los Angeles,
a force of habit and nostalgia transports me to
these scenes of our nights out on the cobblestone
streets of Oaxaca de Juárez, political epicenter
of a beautiful state in southern México. My
spiritual destination every día de los muertos
since two thousand and twelve.

The smoky taste of mezcal suddenly becomes
palpable. The kindness warmth and love of
families friends and strangers there befriended.
The celebration ensued during the most spiritually
important and revered days for thousands, actually
millions, of people all over Latinomérica.

A place that taught me to respect and rejoice with
equal measure. Dancing in streets illuminated by the
orange glow of life, rain-cooled winds blowing
through my hair.


innocuous connections of the viajera self

viajera me, Puebla Mx circa 2011
viajera me, Puebla Mx circa 2011

 

There are moments when hope and desire make my heart and spirit dance like a paper mache puppet. Silver threads attached to each limb, invisible strands that extend in all the cardinal directions and envelop thousands of kilometers. Connection to every city, every love, every cantaloupe-tinged sunrise and the lavender skies of twilight anywhere, everywhere.

Some mornings I feel the physical tug of certain places. A sort of downward pull at my heart, a reminder that there lies happiness and love in my past and in the unexplored. That I extend for thousands of miles, that there is no limit to who I am and who I can become.

These innocuous connections that allow me to move freely tend to pull at my heart in order to awaken me from momentary dormancy. As if to tell me that I exist not to be sedentary or inert, that belonging within one place is unnecessary and unnatural, that I have sprinkled pieces of me in many places.

My marionette heart dances to the beat of love always away and elsewhere, both here and there.

 

“No nos queda más que luchar”

Acción Global for Ayotzinapa en Los Angeles, enero 27 (Andre Medina)
Acción Global for Ayotzinapa en Los Angeles, enero 27 (Andre Medina)

Bajo una llovizna rociada pero persistente, la voz de Saira Rodriquez, hija de Nestora Salgado, fundadora y coordinadora de la policía comunitaria de Olinalá, Guerrero, reverberó entre decenas de velas y claveles afuera de la Catedral de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles, en conmemoración y protesta de los cuatro meses desde la desaparición de los jóvenes, indígenas, estudiantes normalistas de Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

El asunto era éste: “no nos queda más que luchar.” A través de una llamada telefónica, con voz trémula hablaba de la intimidación y las amenazas que ha recibido por exigir y organizar por la libertad de su madre, presa en un penal de máxima seguridad desde agosto de 2013.

Parada allí, tan lejos de Saira y tan lejos de Ayotzinapa, identifique aquellas palabras con los consejos y saberes que me sigue brindando mi familia, mi hxstoria y comunidad.

Palabras que nacen de una hxstoria y contexto de lucha constante, una lección comúnmente transmitida a través de generaciones y fronteras, de madre a hija, abuelo a nieto, de luchadxs social a joven esperanzado y estudiante hacía su pueblo.

Palabras que nuestras madres recitan para condenar condiciones laborales injustas y patrones que manipulan y explotan. Que se expresan a través de los ojos lúcidos que adornan los rostros de nuestros abuelos, que nos platican de su hambre por sobrevivir y vivir alimentado del campo y la tierra. Las palabras y silencios que decenas, cientos, miles de madres, familias, hermanos y compañerxs usan para denunciar la desaparición se su sangre, para articular su dolor.

Lucha. Memoria y lección que impregna nuestra piel, sazona nuestras lagrimas, nutre los surcos de nuestros campos y ayuda a brotar las flores y los arboles entre las grietas de nuestras ciudades urbanas.

La lucha aplastada, marchitada, agobiada, pero viva. Regenerativa, se resucita en las platicas con nuestrxs abuelxs sobre revoluciones frustradas, manifiestos olvidados, sueños congelados. Sobrevive la migración y despojo, retando corrupción, violencia y olvido.

A falta de tanto no nos queda más que la lucha.

“She is the maker of worlds.”

En donde empezamos y siempre retornamos, Durango.
En donde empezamos y siempre retornamos, Durango.

At the conclusion of a book very dear to me, Alicia Schmidt Camacho reiterates that those beautiful beings who inhabit the fringes of the bordered ambiguity of existence, habitantes de fronteras, are those capable of constructing worlds anew.

After hundreds of years of being relegated to violence, death, abuse, and oblivion, those who have grown and resisted within the borderlands have learned to grow within apparently rigid parameters of existence, to make space where we were told and where we learned there was no room to grow and thrive. It is within violence and ambiguity of desolate weather that desert life thrives and grows.

As I travel through northern Mexico on the dawn of a new cycle and year, I cross deserts, hills, and mountains to reach Los Angeles. As our bus pulled away from my mother’s hometown in southern Durango, I beheld a beautiful sight of milpas and orchards, a reminder of my family’s work as farmers and luchadorxs. And as my bus sped down highways destined northward, through the arid deserts of Chihuahua and Arizona, through my window I perceived the immaculate beauty of life in its extreme and desolate expression.

On the last leg of my traveling on the dawn of the New Year, I admit that this year, I learned about my ability to create, to articulate, to express and act upon my own vision. That in traveling through Tijuana, Durango, Oaxaca, Mexico City, and La Paz, Baja California while voyaging through the treacherous terrain of my own fears, unhappiness, courage and growth, I learned about my resiliency, and my power to reinvent and build myself anew, inhabiting and loving each new environment, each new terrain.

Ella esta por embarcar. She is about to embark, about to leave, about to begin. In the beginning of this year I decided, or better expressed, felt obliged by my creative spirit, to begin to articulate my desires and reflections through the written word via this blog. And much of what has inspired and unsettled me has been traveling, both spiritual and physical. Even from the familiarity of my nest in Los Angeles, I have been compelled to explore and better understand myself; after so much time living with an understanding of who I was, what I desired, hoped for and was compelled to pursue, I realized that much of what I thought I understood about myself was imposed upon and simply outdated.

Embarking, exploring, discovering more about myself by articulating thought into word, curiosity into voyage, has thus been my journey this past, and quickly closing, cycle.

Within the spaces and pauses of each sentence, and within each sublime conversation with the dozens of people I have met in my journey through Mexico, spectacular site of so much of my growth, pain, and reason to hope and resist toward happiness and social change, and through life this year, I find the inspiration to construct a world versed in the language of creativity, fluidity, justice and love. To build a world compatible with the thousands of worlds I hope to meet, explore, and grow alongside with each new cycle.

And with each new road paved through the expansive space that both articulates and severs deserts, hxstories and journeys, I compose the verses and relish the sensation of life as I flow, weather, and choose it.

Ella habita las fronteras
construyendo y fluyendo
habitando y encarnando
sintiendo la vida misma

Mexico City: Compromiso

Estoy en el DF y me siento feliz, tranquila y pensativa. Es momento de decidir. Ayer estaba caminando por el Centro y en la explanada de Bellas Artes me encontre a un grupo de personas tocando música y presentando un alter en honor y resistencia a lxs desaparecidos de Ayoztinapa. Fue hermoso y conmovedor presenciar la solidaridad y el amor y el honor no necesariamente a la muerte, sino a reivindicación.

Allí sentada, me puse a pensar y me di cuenta que en este viaje y travesía de autodescubrimiento he dejado a un lado mi compromiso con la justicia collectiva, con la felicidad la existencia y la plenitud para aquello y aquellxs más allá, más grande que yo. Me entristeció porque aunque este es mi camino y lo he trazado, me doy cuenta que hay mucho que hacer. Hay mucho en que aportar. Y quiero retomar ese compromiso. Mi yo no es tan importante como el/la nosotrxs.

¡Ayotzinapa Vive! ¡Mike Brown Vive! !La Esperanza y La Resistencia, Vive!

Entre mariposas y viajes: Crónica de una mujer y su reencuentro con la felicidad

Viajes y andares hace unos ayeres. Playa Santa Maria En Los Cabos, BCS.

Viajando de aquí a la felicidad es una travesía que abarca toda una vida, años de vida, miles de vidas. En este viaje que experimentamos un sin fin de estaciones y pesares. Cuando por primera vez me fui de mi casa, partiendo a la Universidad de California de Santa Cruz, un total de 515 kilómetros de distancia de Los Angeles, recuerdo buscando la felicidad entre la inconformidad y tristeza. Estando tan lejos de todo lo familiar, de la música, de los abrazos y la seguridad que sentía dentro de mi nido, me sentía despojada. Recuerdo lejanamente que en una charla con nuevas amistades acertaba que buscaba la felicidad. Tranquilidad.

Mi compañera de cuarto, una muchacha tierna y detallista, me regalo para esa navidad un cuadro del símbolo chino de felicidad. Mientras me pareció gracioso y un bonito detalle, de golpe obtener el cuadro me provoco a penar que en realidad uno siempre viaja acompañada con la felicidad y que solo era cuestión de descubrirla en el entorno para saber que ella te habita, que ella viaja contigo. Mientras aún guardo ese cuadro preciado como recordatorio, desde es primer viaje ha habido momentos en que he perdido trazo de ella, tanto en mis viajes y retornos como reposo y contemplación.

Pues algo muy curioso ha sucedido en los últimos tres años: he ubicado gran parte de mi felicidad en un lugar tanto mágico como trágico. La Ciudad de México para mi habita todas mis inquietudes, anhelos, deseos. Es un amor que ha producido tan grado de inquietud que cada unx de mis amigxs, compañerxs y familiares pueden atestiguar el trastorno que me ocasiona. Cuando no estoy en la ciudad me siento incompleta, triste, y durante el primer año, deprimida. Siempre he reconocido que ubico mi felicidad en este lugar y como resultado he menospreciado lugares, sentires y amores ajenos a ella. Mientras amo, profundo y completamente a ciudades como Los Ángeles, he sentido una conexión tremenda con esta ciudad y este país.

Estos últimos años me han permitido explorar este amor, descubrirme, cuestionarme, desgarrar, comprender y amarme dentro de ella. Pero a medida que me he amado y alimentado de esta vida, voy descubriendo, quizá desde mis tiempos en la universidad, o quizá por la primera vez, que estas lecciones y saberes las he practicado desde que hace mucho tiempo. Que canalizo esta energía de vida y me alimento de esta felicidad. Y que estos saberes habitan todo lo que veo, interpreto, amo, contemplo. Que no se podrán despojar al menos que yo elige. Esta felicidad es transcendente, la puedo vivir y compartir en donde sea que viaje.

Y me dio cuenta que este año he viajado con la felicidad. Cuando viaje a Durango con mi madre, a pesar de la tristeza de un abuelo ya envejeciendo, recuerdo contemplando la impresionante presencia de mariposas amarillas, tanto en el jardín y patio de la casa de mis abuelos como en la carretera que nos conectaba con la ciudad. Mientras bien me influye la historia de amor entre Mauricio Babilonia y Meme las he adaptado como marco de buena suerte, de aliento y felicidad. Desde que llegue a la Ciudad de México hace un mes, me he sentido con el valor de habitar esta felicidad. Me he reencontrado y conocido a personas que, en sus propios viajes, van trazando su propia odisea, no hacía, pero acompañadxs de la felicidad.

Hace una semana viaje a Baja California Sur a participar en un taller de periodismo con estudiantes de la preparatoria en La Paz. Mientras fue una hermosa experiencia trabajar y aprender de lxs estudiantes fue durante nuestro viaje de San José del Cabo a la Paz que percate la presencia de mariposas amarillas durante todo el camino, asombrándome del reencuentro con mi compañera viajera. Desde el coche vislumbre una viste increíble, en donde mariposas amarillas nos acompañaban en el camino que trazábamos entre nubes púrpuras que enmarcaban montañas hermosas y verdes suspendidas sobre una infinidad de mar azul.

En mis viajes no solo viajo con mi cuadrito y con las mariposas sino también con la certeza que tengo todo lo que tengo para ser feliz, para ser felicidad. Y que aquello no depende de algún lugar, ni circunstancia. Es el compromiso que pacto conmigo misma que dentro de todo lo que yo hago, todo lo que yo vivo, todo lo que contemple, puedo, y encontraré, la felicidad.

México’s Mourning

November 8, 2014: Estoy destrozada. Camino por los andenes del metro y percato como la gente camina muta, tranquila, como un oceano impenetrable de humanidad y silencio, agobiados, de luto perpetuo. 

43 Ayotzinapa normal school students murdered, burned, destroyed, and thrown into a river. Disappeared. In such a surreal an disgusting context, where 43 students from southern Mexico were burned and killed, where only their jaws and teeth remain remnants of the violence, I search to understand how this society as a collective, makes sense of this violence, not only in thought but in feeling, in attachment and empathy, in compassion, in anger, in mourning.

What does this society feel? What do they grieve? Walking through the city, in the metro stations, every profile, in every child’s gleaming brown face, in every silence, I discern a deep and old mourning. How can a society be used to such sadness? Or how can we exist when tragedy is everyday’s news? Born in Los Angeles, born in Chicago, born in Ciudad Juarez, born in Iguala, Guerrero. Born brown? Born poor? Born a womyn? Born in such deep and enveloping oppression that your life has lead you to work, feel, think and hope for something different? Born in Iguala, a student, a protester and you are burned and thrown into a river of oblivion that runs blood and is quickly overflowing with bodies, no longer able to hide the thousands of lives destroyed and disappeared within its riverbed.

Walking in Mexico City, a day after the government’s admission of the killing of Ayoztinapa’s students, I truly feel we live in mourning. The mood that has enveloped me informs my perception of my grey, concrete and overwhelming urban context. A sad and melancholic view of the city and country. Only that I believe that this mourning is not fresh. It is an old and ancient mourning. A mourning that is embedded, sown, embroidered, and consumed by this country’s people since long before the student massacres of 1968 and 1972, since before the Dirty War, since before the disappearance, killing, and sexual violence against womyn in Juarez, the State of Mexico, and Atenco. This mourning precedes the unfulfilled utopia of the Mexican Revolution. Since before, long before, the consolidation of the putrid Mexican state that has agonized and lived so proximate to death since its inception. The Mexican pueblo has always lived in mourning. It has lived, loved, rejoiced, resisted and been repressed and murdered within perpetual mourning. Why does Ayozinapa not stir us from this trance, from this state of desensitized and lethargic state of mourning? In the small and vast injustices we must mourn, but not in silence and lethargy, but in catharsis and resistance:

Basta. Ya me canse. De luto a resistencia.