“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was compelled to pursue, I realized that much of what I thought I understood about myself was imposed upon and simply outdated.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, 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.

Transitions

My heart trembles as it threatens to shatter into a million diaphanous specks of light.  Yet the outcome does not matter.  Because love must be indiscriminate.  I must share and be generous with the bountiful love that slumbers inside me because to deprive anyone of compassion and understanding is to be selfish and violent, it is to capitalize and  deny spiritual nourishment, to limit the healing power of love, the elixir of life. And it is to waste away my soul’s capacity to regenerate love. My sole expectation is to learn from and love the smallest and grandest occupants of this universe. I do not demand love or reciprocity but understand that it will flow to me naturally as I give and offer love. I do not expect, I participate. I do not take, I offer.

Brotando Frutos: Lecciones del Campo

Roads that lead to apple orchards, Durango Mx.
Roads that lead to apple orchards, Durango Mx.

“Hubieron temporadas cuando tu abuelo cosechaba muchas frutas y frijol, él jamas dejo de trabajar la tierra ni de prepararla, pero hubieron años cuando el helado o la granizada les arruinaba la cosecha, pero la tierra estaba preparada. Ellos jamas pasaron hambre, ellos jamas dejaron de trabajar. Tú eres como aquella tierra preparada, cuidada, lista para brotar frutos.”

There were seasons when you’re grandfather’s land would reap lots of fruits, beans, and a bountiful cosecha. He tended the land year after year but there were years when the winter cold and granizada would ruin the harvest, pero la tierra estaba preparada. Ellos jamas pasaron hambre, ellos jamas dejaron de trabajar. Tú eres como aquella tierra preparada, cuidada, lista para brotar frutos. But you, just like the land, are prepared. You’re used to getting everything easily, you’ve been blessed with opportunities more readily, more steadily, more in the past, but you must work hard now and in the future. Good things will come Meli, you must work for them, and maintain all of the work you’ve put into yourself, the time and love and care you have taken to tend and nurture your being and your life. You will be able to reap flowers and life once again. Be patient and work hard.

“Todo se acaba”: Rural Lessons on Life and Survival

Returning to my mother’s pueblo in Durango, a state in northern Mexico known for its Mennonites and picturesque skies, is a voyage through the grandeur of a familial past and the decadence of a present that proves that if everything doesn’t end, it certainly changes.

During this journey, I reflect on a book that has accompanied me for most of this year. Having read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude three times this year, I find myself meditating on the influence of the passage of time over the memory and imagination of the past. For me, each journey to our pueblo is thus a new attempt to both read over and write anew the story of our family.

In Nuevo Ideal, gorgeous and crystal clear skies frame the mountains that surround the bustling town. Amidst the internet cafes and pick-up trucks that blast hip hop and corridos that together compose the soundtrack of those familiar with el otro lado, there remain few people who saw the town at its earliest.

My grandfather is Pablo, an 87-year-old man born in the hacienda La Magdalena. As my last remaining grandparent, his beautiful face shows the wear and richness of a life working and living as a campesino. As I greet him and ask how he’s been, he wearily responds that he continues in good health and says, “pues aquí dando guerra.” Here, still waging war.

This strength is characteristic of our family. The patriarch of our family was Pilar Barragán , my great grandfather, a man almost legendary for his ability to work the land and establish the familial wealth out of the seasonal crops of apples, chiles, beans, squash and corn. Having worked within the La Magdalena, they were early inhabitants of Nuevo Ideal, a town that has just recently reached 77 years old, founded very proximate to the hacienda.

Although his forgetfulness and occasional changes in mood are symptoms of a mental illness of old age, which to this day his children fear and are reluctant to name, he still recounts the type of crops he used to tend to and how he learned to work the land.

My grandfather learned “mirando”, “pegandose”, observing his father because, as he explains, in reality that is how one learns.  These knowledges equipped him to raise 10 children together with my grandmother Juanita, solely off working apple and apricot orchards and maize, bean, and chile crops. He became a merchant, buying and selling apples, and traveling the country in order to make a profit off his ingenuity and hard work. This knowledge helped him migrate to the US through the Bracero Program. This knowledge helped him open a meat market, food stuff store, and tortilleria with my abuelita out of their home. This is the strength that has informed to this day the 87 years of a war to live and to thrive. His father and the need to support his family taught him to wage a war to survive, dar guerra.

As he explains his father’s work and his own work he ends by saying, todo se acaba. Todo se acaba. Everything ends. Meanwhile a generation fades away, another flourishes, changes, and remains. Yet the strength of character born within my grandfather is a gift imbued in me through my mother. Despite the distance that severed us for many years, my mother left home equipped with the strength to cross borders and to raise her children informed by this will to survive. Despite time and despite change, I find this incredible necessity to unearth this quality amidst the groves of his decaying apple orchards, from the grooves that mark his worn face, from within the intelligence of his hazel eyes.

Just like the innovations of modernity seemed to pale as unimaginative and deceiving in comparison to the knowledge of Melquidade’s gypsies in One Hundred Years of Solitude, there is a value and importance in what my grandfather has to teach me, in what those with a distinct imagination and memory have to leave with us. Much in the same way the Buendía family agonized alongside Macondo’s destiny as a family of simultaneous creation and destruction, we are also presented with the opportunity to discern our growth in comparison to that of our environment. And the importance of realizing that despite any change we remain entitled to pause and find deep within our earliest roots the wisdom we sometimes live our lives to seek.

Suddenly I realize it is not necessary to name any illness, to prescribe more medicine, more wear and tear, more exhaustion upon the shoulders of a man whose inner strength and drive knows no limit. My grandfather is for me, a beautiful and perfect example of strength and dedication. He encapsulates an innocence I can’t completely explain and a kindness and warmth I will cherish in my childhood memories as examples to follow. He reminds me that everything does in fact end. Que la guerra un día la tendrás que dejar de liderar. But in the meantime, we must march on, waging the necessary wars to guarantee our survival and permanence. As my grandfather, mi abuelito, as farmer father and fighter, PabloBarragán will always be my earliest teacher on the lessons of life and resistance.

 

 

El Regreso Colectivo: Viajando a Durango, Mexico

Nuevo Ideal, Durango
“Los pasos de mi madre,” por la huerta de manzanas de mi abuelo en Nuevo Ideal, Durango.

Preparándonos para nuestro viaje a Durango, entre hacer el equipaje y las compras obligatorias de dulces y demás regalos para la familia, mi mamá me comenta que hoy como cada año se siente triste en su regreso.

Cuando le pregunto la razón por su tristeza, le es dificil explicarlo, pues nace dentro de ella tan naturalmente cada vez que es su tiempo de regresar.

Colectivamente emigramos de Durango hace más de trienta años, ya que mis primeros viajes empezaron cuando ella decidio dejar su pueblo para cruzar las fronteras y establecerse en Los Angeles, California. Desde entonces ella ha podido regresar, contando con toda la autorización burocratica necesaria y con la añoranza y deseo abrumador por el reencuentro.

La nostalgia que ella siente lo he experimentado yo año tras año y me dio cuenta que la tristeza es el deseo de no tener que haberse ido. Dentro de los flujos, retornos y viajes hemos coincidido en el regreso, juntas. Vámos pa’l pueblo.

Mexico City: An Ode to Self-Love

This is the city where I first began to appreciate solitude as a necessary fortifier of self-love. In waking all over the city, enjoying a late evening film screening, and reposing on a park bench on a Sunday evening by and with myself, I began to appreciate the importance of abounding within my own company: of enjoying my whole being within the greater scheme of existence.

Through witnessing and participating in a city characterized by poverty, disparity, excess, beauty, resilience and ingenuity, I spiraled down a path of introspection and self awareness. When I began to navigate through the city I was struck with semiotic, verbal, and silent affirmations of injustice. I noticed how the hierarchy of race and class informed the ways in which people interacted and existed in the city. Indigenous and non-Spanish speaking people beg for food and work for incredibly low wages all over the city meanwhile the richest people lavished in lifestyles of excess and leisure in the secluded, almost segregated, neighborhoods. The colonias would be divided and organized among patterns of class and social positioning – walking from comfortable upper middle class living to poverty was only a matter of about six meters. Although I was familiar with racism and discrimination from within the U.S., as a person of modest and comfortable urban poverty in Los Angeles and as a brown bodied muxer, it was a different matter experiencing this in Mexico City.

These silent and withdrawn observations intersected with how the urban locality interpreted and contemplated my existence. In my navigating and moving through the city, I have experienced how my own body and existence has been codified and measured according to the social codes of race and class. As a daughter of rural and poor northern Mexican roots, my skin color is the shade of what the racial and political elite consider poor, naca, chaka: a dark and luminous shade of brown. And as soon as I broke the corporal silence muted by my skin shade, something interesting would happen: my Spanish oscillated between the perfect chilango spanish and my English that of the “typical American” accent. I was stuck between literally being too brown to be a U.S. citizen and possessed too strange of an accent to be an authentic Mexican. Yet my social positioning as a student and my economic comfort of being what some may consider middle class in Mexico allowed me to lavish and enjoy the privileges of a comfortable apartment, a university education, and many nights out on the town.

This first year in Mexico City proved to be a challenge of my well established understanding of myself, of the existence I had worked hard to reconcile over the expanse of 21 years. As a womxn of color with migrant histories and completely conscious to the injustice and oppression imposed on my communities in the U.S. as a student and activist, living in Mexico I was challenged and questioned for my assertiveness and self-love. I learned to see myself in a different light and in a different context, and I learned to deeply value and appreciate the reflection I discerned as a testament of my own history and my belonging to greater and more vast history of migration, of resistence, and of love. It is thus that through the experiences of living and interacting with the city and the people who inhabit it that I learned that people also navigated and struggle with social, cultural, racial and economic codes and barriers like people do in the U.S.. Racism and classism is very present in the national subconscious and is seen plastered throughout the city in advertisements, nightlife social dynamics, street side encounters, and public transportation systems. Yet discerning the ways in which the lack of self-love and the imposition of self loathing are as violent in Mexico as they are in the rest of the world, is a lesson still remains with me to this day.

Although it was painful and challenging, I was able to understand who I was in the slightly greater scheme of things, being flexible with that understanding, while retaining my lived experiences as markers of my history and everything that those symbolize. It is the deep meditation of interacting with people, being a silent spectator and participant in the public life of the city, and being a lover and friend that have taught me to love and be who I am and am meant to be.

Because I have also met many people and forged both romantic and amicable relationships. Meanwhile many of these I have been able to keep and nurture others have fallen victims of the circumstance of distance and time. Meanwhile my past and my memory and my present self will always be informed because of them, I am still able to discern Mexico City as the city that taught me to love. Mexico City is the city that taught me to love myself. That in light of so much existence and so much excess, I was able to become more intimate with myself: with what angered me, with what inspired me, with what filled me with so much energy for life. This is what has thus inspired my journey to find the words to communicate the anger, the inspiration, and the love.

As I write, I prepare myself to return to the city in a few weeks. And as I conjure memories of my favorite streets smells and tastes, a love and excitement bursts within me. It feels as if I am returning to an old friend, returning to someone who has seen me grow and has seen me change. It is the city that taught me to listen to my deepest and most forgotten desires, to contemplate who I am within the endless and expansive and throbbing existence that is life, and has taught me to love and appreciate my place within it. It is the city that taught me to become the poet I was always meant to be.

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: Presencias Urbanas

Chad Santos Photography
Chad Santos Photography

Unos de mis recuerdos más tempranos de la Ciudad de México es de una mañana en el sur de la ciudad, caminando sobre Avenida Universidad hacia Metro Quevedo, contemplando y asombrándome del ajetreo de aquella mañana de sábado, del flujo de gente y de auto. Conforme me iba acercando a la entrada del metro percataba como la vida fluía sobre planos contradictorios. Los autos, la gente, la sonoridad y los tempos se movían y expresaban en corrientes que chocaban, necios y tercos en su fluir.

Dentro de este ecosistema caótico se suponía que teníamos que coexistir. En estas condiciones extremas muchos agrandamos nuestras necesidades, ignorando los sufrimientos ajenos.

Estos silencios y ausencias los he vuelto a ver y sentir a través de todo el tiempo viviendo en el DF. Caminando y reventándote de alegría en una noche de fiesta en la ciudad, tienes todo a la mano, unos chicles unas rosas unos cigarros. En el metro te venden todo lo que ofrece un OXXO a un cuarto del precio. Gozas de entretenimiento de clase mundial de malabaristas, tragafuegos, payasos y acróbatas en cualquier intersección de la ciudad.

Esto es el paralelismo y contradicción del mundo chilango. Diversos especies de chilangos quedan relegados a los distintos planos que dividen y conforman la panorama citadina. En las colonias a donde algunos acuden por un buen café, orgánico y muy local, debajo de las terrazas cubiertas de los edificios, gente degusta de una ensalada de quinoa mientras que a sus pies una persona pide en silencio el apaciguamiento de su hambre. Por las calles del Centro, en donde la grandeza del legado intemporal se mezcla con la decadencia y la pobreza urbana, la gente camina entre los edificios maravillándose del esplendor del espíritu humano mientras ignorándolo en su peor y más olvidado estado.

En mi travesía por la ciudad, viajo ensimismada, pues me ocupo con resguardar mi confort y supervivencia, evitando el contacto visual, fingiendo apatía y fastidio, apresurando el paso, e ignorando y suprimiendo la tormenta que brota dentro de mi. Al fin, me resulta más cómodo aguantar la culpabilidad y evitar la mirada que enfrentar el rostro del hombre trabajando de tragafuegos, del niño que toca el acordeón en el Centro todas las noches, de la pequeña niña vestida de payasita, de la madre que se sienta, todos los días, por la entrada del Metro Quevedo con sus pequeños hijxs a vender dulces de amaranto.

Contemplarlos, como si su hambre y necesidad se fundiera con el paisaje urbano, convirtiéndolos en abstracciones urbanas, notas de pie en la crónica de la ciudad que cuenta con los centros comerciales y la trasplantación de la cultura yankee como protagonistas.

Pues, el hambre y la pobreza sí tiene rostro. Son niñxs, gente, humanos que agrupamos con millones de otrxs bajo la etiqueta “chilango”, miembro humano de la población urbana de la Ciudad de México.

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.