A New Year

The dust and heat of the dessert were heavy, oppressive as we sped south in the car. I was immobilized in the passenger seat and Remi, more highly functional in the hot weather, was pretty much solo-piloting our southward road trip. Passing the border in Tijuana, things didn’t cool off much as we headed south down Baja California. The relentless movement of it: what were we running from? Or running to?

 

Of course there was no way to forsee the mini-disasters the month ahead would present us, the two of us who had witnessed so much together on our travels around the earth the past four years. This is back when we still had the Forester, our red car that we bought when we were so full of shared dreams.  This was before we had fixed the A/C, when we just suffered with the over 100 degree heat and I was feeling so lost. 

 

I remember panicking before we reached the border, and the subconscious messages about Mexico we hear over and over again in the States, surging through my body that was telling me “don’t go on” with a man driving me south I felt I hardly knew. I considered it seriously, one day in San Diego. I was ready to buy my ticket back home; I thought that was my way out of there. 

 

But those were tickets I didn’t buy; I sat with my unease and we made our way south.  

 

2016 has been a year of transitions, tumultuous and jolting, but full of the opportunity for growth. There is a pain that comes with letting go of love; that four year relationship that accompanied me as I grew into adulthood coming to a crashing end. The process of coming to accept that was painful, confusing, difficult. 

 

Remi and I had said goodbye many times, not just in this separation, but in all of our time together. From the beginning, our tearful farewell in the Amsterdam train station, to the emotional roller coaster of our last days in Kuala Lumpur after traveling in Asia for 8 months together, there was always that doubt of whether we’d see each other again: where in the world it would be, under what circumstances. I would’ve never guessed that the final farewell would be in Mazunte, a little beach town on the pacific coast of Oaxaca.


This year has presented me with this difficult, gut-wrenching decisions. Without Remi in my life, I’ve been forgetting little by little my French but improving my Spanish. I’ve been growing on my own, making these decisions, little and big, defining the course of where I am and where I’m going.

 

But incredibly, the year has also been one of love, a transformative variety of love, deep self-love, love of new people, of amazing places, of moments in time that end but stay with me and just love of life. This love overwhelms me at time, when the beauty of life and all it offers us feels to be just too much to contain in one little, insignificant body. I feel it radiating, like some crazy force that could come bursting out of my chest. Walking in the streets of my neighborhood in Roma Sur, this corner of Mexico City I’ve come to love like a second home, and it just envelops me. How beautiful life is. How uncontrollable and mysterious. I float along those streets in my little reveries, just feeling joy. The sun shines here so brightly. I could (and sometimes I do) sing aloud, dancing down these streets, dancing through life. These moments are fleeting, but they have been many this year and I am grateful for that, for this ability to feel unadulterated joy and bask in it. 

 

This year has been one of success, taking in the richness of life and its diversity, becoming rich in the process: rich in experiences, in opportunities, projects, personal growth. I have been blessed with abundance. I have learned so much, slowly becoming a better writer with the many new assignments I’ve taken on. I’ve grown as a teacher, sharing my passion for language, and gaining confidence in my ability. 

 

It was a year of letting go, trusting in this process, trusting that as joy passes, so does pain. What felt like a loss has become an incredible opening, to open myself to the opportunities of life let things come into alignment, free up space and energy to pursue my dreams, dreams that have come to life in astonishing color, that have prompted me to dream up even more ideas, to think bigger.

 

These emotions are fleeting, a beautiful, intricate part of life, of the universal energies that exist and pass through us. But I have learned that these emotions do not define us, contrary to what language would have us believe, ‘I am sad’, ‘I am happy’, as if these changing emotions could define the essence of what we are. They are the paint that colors our days, renders us human, but there is much more than that and there is liberation in letting go of this over-worked identification with our emotions, trusting that everything passes. 

 

This year has been a beautiful, humbling journey. I have traveled from France, to Mexico, across the United States, on a writing assignment to New Hampshire and then, quite unexpectedly to Beijing. This movement has been and continues to be a creative force in my life, somehow connecting me to some nomadic tendency deep within me. I have grown intellectually, working on translations of texts that will be published in the year to come. 

 

I have lost love and I have found it. I have come to believe that love is never truly lost. It may change form, but once it has come into existence it radiates out. Remaining emblematic of that moment in time, it becomes intertwined to the fabric of the lives we are each spinning, as individuals and in constant connection with one another. 

 

This year, I have become lighter: physically, emotionally, mentally, for the things I have let go of. Letting go was scary, it was terrifying but ultimately it created an essential space for me to move into, to let myself take up this space and trust that it would not be an emptiness in my life, but a fullness.

 

I am grateful, infinitely grateful to the experiences of this year, to the people I’ve shared it with, the friends, new and old, to those that have shared their love and dreams with me, as they’ve come and they’ve gone. I’m grateful for the gift of movement, for finding a home on the road in Mexico City. As I look forward to the year to come, I know there will be more changes, more transitions, new scenery, new people, and I can’t wait for it all.

 

The events of 2016 have made it abundantly clear that we do not face an easy year ahead. Trump’s election in the United States was undoubtedly a blow. But, as I cried my rage and frustration on the Mexico’s Paseo de Reforma, not caring who saw me, my reassurance in this moment was the fact that, in the wake of the election results, I was surrounded by strong, powerful, women of color- some of my best friends- and that this reality is just as real. I know we will fight, just as we have been fighting, for a more just and beautiful future, everyone contributing in their own way. My hope is that, in a world of unending war, poverty, and inequality, we never forget the transformative force of joy, as a means of resistance. 

 

My wish is that in this year to come, 2017, we unapologetically suck on all of life’s savors, so diverse, biting, sweet, layered. That we can all relish in this magnificence of being.