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.

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Mexico, between life and death

The duality of life and death in Mexico, of injustice and resistance, is a balance struck, many times, in the favor of death, injustice, and oblivion.

In Día de los Muertes, a ritual born out of indigenous sentires and saberes, is celebrated all over Mexico, and is especially a strong tradition in the states of Michoacán and Oaxaca. I traveled to Oaxaca de Juarez a week ago, the capital of the southern Mexican State to participate and witness the rituals and devotion to both life and death. It was during my eight hour bus ride south that, suddenly surprised at my own devotion, I realized it would be my third year in a row traveling to Oaxaca during that time of year.

It is in Oaxaca where I have learned to value the devotion and compassion people exert in their celebration of death that strengthens their connection to life. As I walked the city’s streets and the walkways of illuminated cemeteries I suddenly realized that as we celebrated the culture and ritual of death, we perhaps neglected to see how we rub shoulders with it every day: the alcoholism of our rural compxs, the poverty of vendors, the hunger of those who musicalize our ritual.  Even within our devotion of día de los muertos there exists olvidadxs, disappearances and the ignored presence of the starving, suffering and agonizing. As a tradition that is now celebrated globally, thanks to the Mexican and Mexican-American diaspora, people have become attracted and even entranced by the sublime relationship Mexicans have forged with death. Yet as tourists flock to cemeteries, their desire to celebrate their lives, to enjoy and consume a fascination with death, makes it easier to forget and better ignore the indigenous and poor vendors and workers who cater to enhance the lives of others in order for they themselves to survive.

Yet in Mexico, this unfair relationship between life and death is perpetuated and made complex through the disappearances, the absences and the repression of students, of activists, of mujeres, of the rural, the poor and those whose death is almost justifiable collateral for the lives and comforts of those who wield more power. Just three months ago, 43 students from Ayotzinapa, a teacher training college in the state of Guerrero, southwest Mexico, were ambushed and disappeared on the night of 26 September. Ayotinzapa has historically been a bastion of resistance and its students have taken up activist roles that have often challenged the Mexican state, demanding a rural and community based approach to education and social justice. Since the 26 of September, a series of mass graves have been discovered just outside Iguala, though it’s as yet unconfirmed whether they contain the bodies of the students. In light of Ayotinzapa, we celebrate death from Oaxaca to Mexico City and in East Los Angeles. In our communities, death and olvido, inform collective existence in the same measure as life and celebration. But how do we celebrate death when we are denied a collective right to life? How can our rituals become resistance, to demand the right to exist as we are, or as we hope to be?

During my time in Oaxaca I was able to visit a special exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a poem by David Huerta dedicated to Ayotzinapa:

Ayotzinapa, David Huerta, Oaxaca.
Ayotzinapa, David Huerta, Oaxaca.

“Who reads this should also know
That despite it all
The dead are not gone
Nor have they made them disappear

That the magic of the dead
Is in the dawn and the ladle
On foot and in the cornfields
In the drawings and in the river..”

It was a beautiful exhibition and ode that inspires anyone who reads it to love and fight ardently for life, to remember why it is important, to realize that in the context of so much death, to recuperate life among the destruction and violence.

Coming back to Mexico City, I attended a vigil at el Zocalo this past Tuesday, where people gathered around candles, one for each of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, in an act of collective remembrance and resistance. Upon taking in the beautiful scene, the candles and the small group of people, I took in the panorama of the daunting and even violent looking government palace that loomed over us. And to our right and immediate surrounding was an even larger group of federal police officers, armed with their plastic shields and uniformed and looking slightly dreary. Suddenly struck by this scene, by the contrast between hope and defiance, and violence and compliance, I become more intimately conscious that this duality exists in subtle violence all over the country. Ultimately underneath the garb of police uniform and shields, of our protest posters and t-shirts that exclaim justice for Ayotzinapa, we all face the violence of indifference and corruption.

Yet the symbolism of this contrast, of those who seek justice and those who are paid to suppress it, isn’t a new scene to Mexico. I’ve witnessed it even within our celebrations of death in Oaxaca, in our celebration of life in Mexico City, and in the silences and absences of the thousands who have disappeared, whose absences have gone unnoticed with the exception of their families and those who once knew them: the 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa, femicides in Juarez and el Estado de México, pobreza, olvido, soledad e injusticia. Yet truly transcending death and celebrating life is a matter of tipping the scales in favor of life, of every person’s right to exist. The growing solidarity with the missing students in Ayotzinapa is proof that Mexico in general is capable of shifting the imbalance between life and death. Here in Mexico, as in our greater communities, this is a possibility, only if we demand this right not only from any state, but by working continuously to ensure that we promote life in everything we do, demanding our collective right to exist, our right to life, where death is not an imposition but a natural extension of a dignified life.

Mexico City: Mujer Se Enamora de Ciudad

heart 2 df

Falling in love with something as vast and intangible as the most enormous capital city of Latin America, one with increasingly blurring boundaries and delineations, is a strange notion.

So is the confession of feeling heartbreak when you’re away, love sickness when you wish and yearn to indulge in its street food and afternoons in the company of its cityscape. As absurd and – as dfeñxs, mexicanxs, pochxs and us chilangxs sintéticxs might say – cursi this may seem, I am certain of having experienced the different stages of courtship and love, enamorment and lust, growth and wisdom through and because of my times living in Mexico City. These experiences continue and flourish regardless of time and logic – the stages are repeated over again and in different patterns and with different lessons.  As if Mexico City, as a complete and enigmatic whole, has been the most nurturing and lucid example of lover and teacher.

I first moved to Mexico City three years ago, a college senior on a mission of immersion and authenticity. In 2011, I studied in UNAM and threw myself into as many experiences and many perspectives as possible. Consequently, I’ve left and gone back twice after, and thus perspectives and lessons have fluctuated but throughout all of these I’ve reflected on the experience of being young and naïve and living in a beautifully brutal global city: growth through pain, consciousness through contact, reality through experience. And there is something about being brown, being of once Mexican undocumented parents, of being poch@, of being mujer, of being a breathing and loving and seeing person traveling and encountering this enormous city for the first time.

Here I have discovered, abandoned, and recognized many parts of myself and others – from my understandings of identity and place as a daughter of Mexicans who forcefully abandoned their rural northern mexican pueblos, to the power of resiliency and action and survival – from my research on #YoSoy132 to the observations and intersections with communities that create new realities for existence. These lessons have all been born out of my time spent with people, walking and flirting with the wonderful cobblestoned streets, lamp-lit plazas, huge avenues, beautiful universities, and fragrant mercados. The city itself is a loyal and always devote companion.

And when I’m back in Los Angeles, there are certainly mornings when I wake up yearning to breathe in the smell of fresh bread mixed in with the smell and sensation of a busy city street, the noise of a bustling morning of Avenida Hidalgo on a Sunday morning. And I reflect and wonder about the duality of nostalgia and love.  At times the memories and loves of Mexico Citys’ of my past inhabit so much of me that I feel tied to it, as we so often feel attached to loves of our past, out of nostalgia.

But then in oscillating between love happiness and nostalgia, I find deep within myself a love for the vision of life and justice first inspired in me while in Mexico City. A vision of life in all of its complexity and dualities; of injustice and resilience, charm and brilliance, solitude in multitude, and solidarity in collectivity.

Mexico City in many ways is representative of the deterioration provoked and aggravated by the unfettered  and destructive power of capitalist accumulation and modernity urbanized, as well as the perpetually reproducing racisms and classisms – realities unraveled over and over again against a backdrop of a concrete cityscape and a smog shrouded horizon. In this way the romanticism of such a cruel existence seems not only out of place, but insensitive to the subtext of the suffering silences of the urban city.

Yet the intersection and accumulation of all these realities, which, when first contemplated where painful and spiritually oppressive, have inspired in me the most enduring lessons about how people exist and create within, despite, and inspired by urbanity.  I love Mexico City as I am learning and growing flexible in my understanding and love of life as resiliency and complexity. Meeting and living in a place like D.F., the intersection produces a synergy that strengths you, leaves you with lessons and encouragement to break down or build yourself the way you need and feel inspired to – which certainly is also a self love, reciprocated in a love for a beautiful city.

Encuentros aleccionadores

Hoy es luna llena,  and tonight we witness the particularly grand spectacle of the blood moon, un eclipse lunar. Astronomical and historical nights like this one serves to remind us of the grandeur and immensity that engulfs us.  For while we indeed live, suffer and enjoy in excruciatingly complex ways, we occupy a relatively minuscule place within greater forms of existence. On a stroll around my neighborhood in Los Ángeles,  the brilliantly illuminated night sky is a reminder of this astronomical truth.  This lunar lesson remits to lessons of a more spiritual kind, product of intersections with people  who have taught me lessons on simplicity, gratitude and fulfillment. While I may suffer and hurt through every transition, I am reminded of my place within greater celestial, corporal and spiritual positioning and alignments. The following is a lesson gifted to me by a friend in Mexico City regarding happiness within place and living and companionship with life itself:

¡La vida es bella! I just finished having coffee with a lovely mujer, Sindy, in Café 123 by Metro Juarez. I had the most sincere and sublime conversation with her, on living in Mexico City and the pursuit of passion and our right to be inquietas and noncoforming. Sindy has lived in Mexico City for about six years now and her decision to stay and live in Mexico parted from her experience as an exchange student at UNAM.  I see much of my passion and love compatible with hers; she appreciates the culture and creativity of the city, the intimacy and comfort emanated from its public space and imbued in its people.

She explained her conviction and commitment to the life she lives in Mexico City as both struggle and perseverance.  She had the graciousness to offer me her experience and inspiration for my own journey and struggle in Mexico City.  As she so lyrically and philosophically put it, the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment is a great effort of resistance and justice because it not only channels our impetus for fundamental change inward but inspires us to transform ourselves into people capable of inspiring others.  For Sindy, her decision to live and struggle in D.F. has imbued in her the power of inspiration and creation. It has allowed for a transformative state of freedom: to find, create, pursue and channel all of my beautiful capacity to be free and to be happy.

I am grateful for Sindy and to life for facilitating my encuentros with people like her. As one friend poignantly stated, inspiration must come from within and that we are capable of finding it within ourselves. I think this is important and necessary, and an absolutely great compliment to inspiration transmitted from others as a beautiful synergetic exchange of life and strength.

Y como se lo comentaba a Sindy, me comprendo como una mujer eternamente acompañada y, a pesar de todo, consolada viviendo en la ciudad de México.  Es a menudo cruel pero cuando voy caminando por sus calles, o sentada en alguna plaza e incluso viajando en el metro, siento una profunda y sincera solidaridad con la gente que me rodea; comprendemos la belleza y fealdad de nuestro entorno y de nuestra ciudad.  El susurro de la guitarra, el flujo de los fuentes de agua, las charlas coquetas de las parejas y el silencio tranquilo de la muchacha que comparta la banca conmigo: todo me acompaña y me conforta.  Es sutil y placentero a la vez que conmovedor y a veces incomodo.  Me acompaña la ciudad pero mi eterno compañerx es la vida misma.

Dulce Esperanza

What’s in a name?  A bit of investigative work and short conversations regarding what’s behind my name, my parent’s explain that it means “dulce esperanza”.  This, along with all of the symbolism encompassed with being a daughter of two mexican migrants now living in Los Angeles via way of Durango and Sonora, and who I am becoming, has prompted me to write this short piece in Spanish.  Espero que les guste, muchos besitos:

Yo tengo alma de ave, me seduce el viento que acaricia mi piel, como si animarme a tomar vuelo.  Desde pequeña me gustaba correr, brincar y jugar sin fijarme ni preocuparme hacia cual rumbo me dirigía, sin importar que me tropezara o me cayera, y un día de jugar era todo un éxito cuando terminaba con moretones en las rodillas y en los codos y empapada de sudor y tierra…a la angustia de mi madre.  Jamas me he dejado vencer o desanimar por miedo a causarme heridas, tras años de deporte de baile de viaje he aprendido que tengo un cuerpo muy fuerte y resistente.  Sí temo defraudarme a mi misma y esto me causa enfrentar retos con temor de ser insuficiente, de no creerme digna de lograr aquello que tanto me asombra, pero persigo aquellos sueños con tremendo empeño y cada día con más paciencia y amor y valentía. Porque me fascina la sensación de volar, de percibir la inmensidad del hermoso entorno; de vistas nuevas viejas y antiguas que se vuelven nuevas con cada día.  Me gustaría discernir las rutas por las cuales puedo volar, con amor y esperanza, para navegar por el mundo con la curiosidad y confianza desarrollada de niña y con el amor propio que voy desarrollando como adulta.  Y con la esperanza engendrada en mi por mi papá y mi madre, por mi familia y comunidad, por el mundo hacía mi y yo hacía el mundo.  Me gustaría navegar el mundo volando, con valentía y con la mira hacía el horizonte perpetuo.