Why (Me)xico?

I have spent ten months running from my new reality.  While barely keeping my world intact as a recent college graduate finding my place in the world and paying bills while following a creative passion, my entire world was shattered, literally.  I was biking on a clear, sunny afternoon, feeling more alive and engaged in the world than I had in a long time.  I had just arrived back in the city from three weeks in Paris where I had established a this travel blog, outlined a clear plan for how to approach my art, and how to change my life in the city in order to achieve a higher level of happiness in my day to day.  One part of that plan was to mimic the Europeans and their joie de vivre lifestyle of biking and life experiencing on their commute.

So when I was hit by a 5,000lb SUV, I literally and figuratively had the wind knocked out of me.  My sails deflated, I can recall the seconds that seemed like eons, rotating through the air, as I heard my mind exclaim, “Why now!?”  For some, memories of trauma feel like gazing at a scene on a screen with petroleum jelly spread over it.  For me, though, everything is crisp and clear, and I was aware in that very moment that my life was going to change irrevocably.  I wasn’t capable of knowing how bad my injuries would be, and what life-altering physical disabilities I would suffer, until my body fell from the sky, impacting on the dark road beneath me.  “This is going to hurt.  Just don’t die.” I heard my mind desperately warning and pleading with itself.  Add insult to injury?  The man who hit me left me in the street, injured, questioning whether I would live or die.  

Three days in the hospital, four pelvic fractures, a separated shoulder, two months in a wheelchair, multiple x-rays, MRIs and torn cartilage demanding hip surgery, ten months of physical therapy re-learning to walk and therapy re-learning to feel later, I was about to turn twenty-six.  Where did twenty-five go?  Oh, yea.  I just covered that.  Feeling a piece of my life had been stolen, I set a goal to travel to a new country before I had to say goodbye to my quarter-century milestone.  

In my new reality, I’m trying hard to let go of fear.  Rationality is one thing, but fear is a monster that consumes your life and prevents you from living fully.  Even though I had lived for years within hours of the border, I had never traveled to Mexico.  Growing up on the East Coast, Mexico was a distant country, with a bad reputation (putting it mildly).  We saw news stories about tourists who had been arrested and subjected to human rights violations, or people who had been scalped by drug cartel members.  After thorough research, listening to multiple personal anecdotes (some again deterring me from Mexico), I decided that symbolically this trip was too important for my life.  I needed to escape the confines of medical appointments, bills, criminal court proceedings, and civil attorneys.  Mexico was my ticket to freedom and renewal, and I was not about to let twenty-six pass without an epic welcoming.  Goodbye, twenty-five! 

(Written June, 2014)

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Back on the Horse

I’ve been hearing the phrase “get back on the horse” for months now since my accident.  When the opportunity to travel to San Francisco came up, I was wary that I might not be physically fit for a solo journey up the coast, but also, that I wasn’t ready mentally.  Now, sitting on the bus to return home after my busy, but fun-filled weekend riding the hills of San Francisco, I can’t believe I questioned my spur of the moment trip.  The bumpy bus ride reminds me of our boat riding the waves in the San Francisco Bay just a few hours ago.  I should have known that this trip could only help to restore my soul, the way travel always does.  Getting out of the city where my accident happened is healthy.  I achieve a respite that is impossible in my city-where I look at every car wondering if the driver is the man who hit me and left me in the road.

San Francisco has a nice energy to it and weather that keeps you on your toes.  When I arrived, it was warm and sunny.  Once inside my hotel room, I looked out the window over the city and the fog rolling over the hills and the Bay was so thick that I thought there must be a fire nearby, but I was told that was normal.  The fog was beautiful, and watching it flow over the mountains made my soul feel free.

I love how many trees are in the city.  They have trees in planters on the sidewalks, and parks in between some streets, as well as meridians with trees.  The city has not forgotten nature.  The large bay windows call to the writer within me.  I love cozy writing nooks, and have always wanted a bay window with a view and sofa cushion in which to write.  There are signs around the city spreading “compassion,” “love,” “and “family.”  I love the open-mindedness of San Francisco, and the way it affects its residents.

A friend took me on a night-time adventure down Lombardi street in his car.  Lombardi street is famous because it has multiple turns in one city block, on a steep hill.  The houses were stunning, but I would think the residents would get bored of all the tourists riding down their street.  We went to a forty-year old restaurant tucked away behind other restaurants, at the end of the wharf.  The fish are literally delivered fresh from the bay a few feet from the restaurant.  I don’t eat fish, but I can appreciate the uniqueness and the quality of fish that the restaurant has.  That attention to food carried over into their vegetarian dishes as well.  We had several glasses of wine, and I laughed the night away with good company.  You know you’re in a good restaurant when all of the waiters are older than fifty years old.  They’re pros, and they respect the patron, which in turn garners respect for their skills as a server.  Even the bartender who was half the age of the waiters, would be sure to address the waiters as “sir” or “madam” when asking them to check on an order for him.

Today I went to Fisherman’s wharf for the second time in my life.  I was a teenager when I went the last time ,and it was for only a few hours.  My experience this time was quite different because it wasn’t the Summer, so it was far less crowded.  Unfortunately, because it is not the high season, there weren’t many street-performers, which is one of my favorite memories from my last visit.  We did see the man spray-painted silver and acting like a robot, which is one of my favorites, as well as a drummer, a smooth-jazz pianist, and a guitarist/singer.

My friend asked what I wanted to do, and I saw that there were boat rides in the Bay.  We bought two tickets for the boat, boarded, ordered cocktails, and went to the top deck.  It was a great experience in the open-air.  We went under the Golden Gate Bridge, and swung around Alcatraz before returning back to the harbor.  On the way back into the harbor, we spotted a replica Pirate ship.  It was epic.  The wood-work, and the sails were majestic, and as I turned around to take my picture, I saw that the sails were backlit by the sunset.  I got magnificent photos of the ship, the Golden Gate, and the sunset.

Driving in San Fran can be a real adventure.  So many of the streets are one-way streets, and the hills make it difficult to see if anyone is stopping at the intersection.  At night we went to Haight-Ashbury, where the Grateful Dead played their first concerts out of their house.  It was the Hippie Mecca during the Sixties, where people from all over the country came and lived in the parks, and smoked weed, made music and love.  It was fun to imagine what the area must have looked like in its Hippie days.  Now it is mostly Hippie-themed shops and cafes-an soft echo of what it once was.

I am already seeking my next travel adventure!

(To maintain the integrity of my blog, please note that this was written 11/4/13 right after my trip, and posted today, 12/26/13. My apologies for the late post.)

Finding my Self, Again

It has been a very long time since I have posted.  It has been a long time since I have felt like myself.  In the instant I was hit by the SUV and sent flying high into the air, I recall feeling ripped away from my Self.

My second day in the hospital, an occupational therapist came in and told me that he was going to get me onto a portable toilet.  I was told him he was crazy, because I could hardly lift my legs.  I struggled for what seemed like hours, but was actually twenty minutes, to sit up, turn my legs so they were dangling off the bed, and half-stand the best I could before sitting on the commode.  A sudden rush of sweat washed over me, and I felt nauseous.  I looked up through bleary, tear-filled eyes and said, “Now this is a real Quarter-Century Life Crisis.”  I had just turned 25, and I felt like I was 98.

The majority of my days have been spent doing little more than healing.  That is all I have had the energy to do.  For nearly two months I felt numb from pain and medication designed to keep my muscles relaxed and allow my body to knit back together.  I felt far away from the world, yet I had a deep yearning to connect and absorb my predicament.  It was daunting.

Now, I feel that I am coming to grips with what happened.  Some days are better than others.  I am an artist.  A creator.  I have felt so overwhelmed by my life, and my physical pain, that I was not able to take to the stage as I would normally to express my emotions.  So, I wrote.  I wrote and wrote, and it was beautiful.  I felt like a swollen raincloud that out of necessity, finally lets go of its moisture, and finds relief.  I needed to express, but my mind was not clear enough to form cohesive pieces, so I didn’t feel ready to post here.

I have made today a special day:  I happened upon the same bottle of Bordeaux that I drank from the local cheese shop steps away from my small Parisian appartemente, in a local grocery.  So, I am channeling my discipline from Paris, and writing nightly with a glass of Bordeaux.  It is the perfect challenge to help me reconnect with the world.

It has been months since something has lit a spark in my chest.  The first month after reaching the Quarter-Century mark was nothing short of phenomenal.  A true gift in many ways.  Some gifts I could not even fully appreciate until now, looking back at what has gotten me through my struggles since the accident.  In Paris, I was a self-reliant, balanced, fit, achieving, kind person who fell in love with culture, and rediscovered the beauty in the difference between being alone, not lonely. I was on top of the world before my accident, and after, at times, I was overwhelmed by a melancholic darkness that assured me I would never feel that way again.  Sometimes, though, I could glimpse a shaft of light cutting through the darkness, promising that I would one day reconnect with the light and beauty of the world.

I often felt like Peter Pan searching for his shadow-the part that has been severed and made him incomplete.  I felt not whole.  As I gain physical strength, I gain mental and emotional strength, and I am reminding myself to keep my eyes open.  To look for the good, and be open to the positive.

As I was writing this post, a travel opportunity came to me: I am going to San Francisco!  I ignited the fire, and the travels will continue here on Quarter-Centenarian ABROAD!

Stay tuned.

Anonymous Abroad

I do not want to have a name. I do not want to have a face.  Whenever I claim my work, it becomes stunted because I worry too much about the details, when the beauty is in the obscure.  I do not want to coax friends over Facebook, Twitter, etc., to follow me so that I can feel good about myself and my writing.  I have decided to do this the, er, old fashioned way (using contemporary tools).  This may end up being nothing more than a diary, with no online presence, and no followers, or, maybe it will inspire other artists who feel the same burning desire to turn their observations, experiences, thoughts, dreams into something more tangible.

For me, it is a journey of self-exploration-one that I have been on for twenty-five years now.  I am a quarter-centenarian, and I have decided to stop making excuses, stop allowing my fear of failure to limit myself, and to just. keep. expressing.

Paris, July 2013.