Mexico City: Muse

Chad Santos Photography

It is difficult to explain this even to myself.

A wave of emotion overcomes me upon admiring this beautiful picture by Chad Santos of the Valley of Mexico. Burdened with euphoria and bliss, I am surprised to deeply feel and validate a truth that’s lived inside of me for such a long time, a faithful companion in all of my journeys in the past four years.

In my frantic desire to be within and be surrounded by this city, I realize that although physical proximity is and will always be a priority for me when in comes to DF, what I have deeply yearned for is to absorb as much of its essence in order to mold my spirit and being after the beauty of its vastness and its absolute singularity.

A mujer in love with a city. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of people in love with Mexico City. Out of so many of us, constantly growing and multiplying, sharing and encouraging, I wonder how many love it so deeply and so differently as to want to imbue their life and their being with some of its best, most spiritual, most haunting and thus most human qualities. I find myself contemplating how many of us begin to think and feel that this overwhelming love is the beginning of a process of root shaking growth, of emotional and spiritual cultivation.

I entertain this new revelation: I love Mexico City in order to become more like it.

To imbue each detail, each part, each morsel of my days with the qualities and characteristics that have irremediably enamored me. Its restless nature. The love and warmth of its public space. The millions of opportunities to share a smile, a drink, a poem, a sunset with absolute strangers. The sonorously rich cadence of twenty-seven million people rising with the sun and moving through the entirety of its surface, swarming in beautiful choreography of the every day bustle both above and below its concrete lake bed. The opportunity to share anything and everything with it and with its inhabitants, relishing it all in the solace and solidarity of solitude. The scenes, the films, the music, the sunrise, the Sunday strolls, the Saturday café con leche y chocolate croissants, the freedom inspired while on the brink of a kiss, on the brink of a taxi collision. The marvelous of the everyday, the quotidian of the surreal. The fluidity of life within chaos, hope comforted by unpredictability, resting and growing within the unfamiliar, expansion of the self and of the spirit within endlessness.

All of this has inspired me to write profusely and ceaselessly. It has inspired fleeting and soul-searing love affairs. It has inspired my activism, my journalism, my voice, my political and spiritual commitments and expressions. It has inspired such a shift in my cosmovisión that not one thing I do upon rising and upon laying to rest has remained unaffected by my connection to it. It has inspired such profound irreparable change. An unleashing of an incessant river within me, that nourishes my spirit and sprouts the creative projects that serve as ode and poetry to its inexhaustible capacity to inspire this sort of love in us.

What I carry with me, what nourishes me on my journey that is this life, is the affirmation that I am as great and expansive as that city. Of looking within and seeing a reflection of that which I love without measure. A reminder to live and love in homage to this gift: I am serendipity. I am unpredictability. I am vast. I am endless. I am alive. 

Advertisements

“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

The Poetry of Becoming Más Nosotrxs

In wanting to write a poem, she waited until she mastered Aristotle’s lessons on the art of poetry.

In wanting to be a journalist, she waited until she truly understood the meaning and science of the craft.

In wanting to travel the world, she waited for them to deliver the ticket she for so long researched and waited for.

In wanting to exist in her truest expression, she waited for the permission and affirmations that never arrived.

She suppressed her own power, her own capacity to write the poems, to write the stories, to travel the world, to build the worlds that she had dreamt of because she waited for someone else to tell her she was capable of doing it.

She wanted someone else to speak the affirmations and encouragement that exploded inside of her.

She adopted outside voices, second, third, fourth, fifth perspectives that told her to wait..

Wait for grad school. Wait for the fellowship. Wait for the networks and the connections and the missing links of the life she was already living.

But she was already the poet she wanted to be. The thinker, the creator, the debater, the artist, the traveler.

She had only to begin and fill the blank pages, overwhelm the blank canvases, fill the echoing silence with her poetry.

As I meditate on my next project and the continuity of my journey I am struck with a blow that sucks the wind out of me. It is the realization that I have assigned the blossoming of my creativity and growth to recognition: to awards, scholarships, offers, and fellowships.  As I work on an essay, I whisper to myself, “once I get this Fulbright, I will finally be able to…” I cede the power to determine how and in what conditions I will manifest my ideas into action, my inspiration into poetry, my anger into protest.

I repose on this tendency to strip myself of creative and spiritual autonomy and see this dependency and self-doubt rooted to my life and identity as a student.  As my first journey and flight from my nest, I made the academic institution my home and, like a child, adapted the lessons and values of an institution dedicated to competition and prestige. Being a muxer, heiress of a past ignored by a world obsessed with accumulation, I measured all of my worth according to my GPA, my CV and social capital.

Meditating on this time of my life, I realize that I still carry these residues, foreign and estranged rituals of introspection and self-understanding. But my perpetual capacity to hold off until next time, to wait to manifest my passion, is also a product of my community, of my life, of my parents, of my experiences, of the protection I have built up around me toward the unknown, the unperceived.

As I disentangle them now, pulling apart these weeds that have penetrated my spirit, I intend to understand them. I remap my journey and rewrite my poetry, confident that it can exist in its singularity.  As I occupy and extend my voice and my deepest rooted inquietudes I make space for a language that welcomes and embraces my existence and expression.

My parents have explained to me that my name means Dulce Esperanza , sweet hope. I love and am deeply grateful for my name because it intimately connects me to my parents, to their hxstory, to the strengthening of our collective hopes. And I realize that I can not perpetually inhabit hope. That I must rupture these cycles, nurture myself from them, and realize that my power to create is a gift I must exercise and recognize. I am learning that the process of becoming, and not achieving, will remain our most resilient fulfillment. This is our collective process.

Mexico City: Mujeres Que Viajan

As I travel through life I am met with subtle blessings and encounters in the form of lovers, friends, and cities. As my most recent reality and context, Mexico City has been the incubator of many friendships and conversations woven amongst mujeres pajaros, womyn poets and travelers who defy borders to find themselves and others in a city that is both hostile and nurturing.

Throughout the last three years I have met many mujeres who have fallen in love with Mexico City. As I reflect and contemplate each story I realize that this group of mujeres have individually and collectively nourished an energy for life that sustains my personal hunger to return to the city. They inspire me to contemplate what it means to return and how returning is a journey that I have the power to perpetually reinvent and remap, as if each return takes me in the direction of a renewed and different sort of love.

As I write this to them, I am writing to myself. Because reflected within all of them I recognize all of my dreams for happiness and fulfillment in their excitement and their anxiousness. In this way, todas somos una mujer, mujer que espera y mujer que trabaja, mujer que anhela y mujer que alcanza:

Mujer, con alma que canta, espiritú de viaje, sueños imperturables, who dreams of creation and expansion, from you I learn that patience and dedication is what sows the strong roots of our creative projects. That although time may pass and distance resembles borders, our imagination coupled with the encouragement of transbarrio pen pals serve to give life to our dreams of returning. That our hunger for creation and growth make our dreams within reach.

Mujer pajaro who dreams of connection and innovation, of returning to a love born out of one of her first encounters with the city, I recognize your energy and constant strive to occupy your own place within every city, every circumstance, every challenge. You are one of my earliest inspirations, mujer who first described the marvels of the city, of the lessons and the passion to defend and live up to them. 

Gran y hermosa mujer that dreams of the sights and landscapes most sincerely adored, who dreams of family and antiquated love, you teach me to recognize that love does last, that the city always welcomes back those who have loved and known it. That nostalgia is something to nestle my best memories in  and where I can incubate my most sought after dreams.

Mujer, amiga que piensa y que ama, who dreams of love and companionship, perpetual viajera que transita fronteras por amor, de justicia y de libertad, you teach me that love has never succumbed to borders and conventions, and that distance is not a border but a circumstance. That love can overcome it.

Ultimately, the yearning to return and to visit is inevitable, as it is a residue and remnant of all things beautiful and inspiring in life. And returning and visiting can mean many different things to each one of you. But it is part of the journey. In between our going and returning, we grow and are nurtured by a journey that serves to inspire all who dream and who live collectively. In that way, we all serve to encourage each other’s coming and going, each (re)encounter with the smallest and largest examples of life and love. It so happens that each and every one of us have been given the opportunity to intimately come to know one of the largest examples of love. Mexico City is this, or has been this, for us in the past. May our journeys to and from it be filled with more opportunities for growth and love.

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.

Amorcito mio

I GUIDE MY LIFE THROUGH LOVE.

 Through the love that emanates from my body and simmers within my soul, through the love of creation and inspiration for justice and transcendence, love from within myself for myself and not the love I wish to see in the eyes of others who look at me.  Self Love, which  for so long I sought to find in others as a validating sort of love, radiates within me for life, for my lovers, and for love. I do not guide my life through fear, but through love. I love those who come into my life and those who part from it, because through the synergy and intensity of our love, we grew stronger, leaving each other with the lessons to continue, breaking down or building ourselves the way we need to.