Last year I said “best birthday ever”. Sometimes I have to be careful about the things I say because I just may one-up myself and wouldn’t you know, I sure as fuck did.
One of my besties was kind enough to come stay with R so I could have a handful of days away. When you’re armed with co-conspirators who know how special and deserving this is, paired with the fortune, privilege and sheer will to make something happen, on the morning of my 49th birthday I woke up in a nest of white linen in Barcelona. Wide eyed, fingers in my hair, church bells ringing in the skies.
Truth be told, I could have gone somewhere else but I fell in love with this city so hard and there isn’t enough time to see and do it all – especially when you’re very distracted by such beautiful company. I needed seconds. And thirds.
This time we…
Touched the Mediterranean and collected rocks and sea glass on her shores
Bathed in sunset light and marveled inside La Sagrada Familia. A stained glass and stone masterpiece that photos will never do justice of.
Rode cable cars over the harbor up to a Spanish Castle
Drank sangria and laughed in a bar from 1820 that once housed the likes of Picasso for my birthday
Wandered around a flea market looking for treasures
Shared: delicious food, walks, glances, firsts, words, alleys, art, music, hearts, souls, sin, bubble baths, vulnerable exchanges, wonder and breaths in/on/up against cathedral walls
Laughed, connected, soaked, touched, talked, slept, worshipped, wondered, marveled, imbibed, cried and sighed… with this absolutely magnificent city as a stage.
Such are the moments where the arrivals are brimming with excitement and anticipation. Reunions like no time went by and goodbyes that are a haunting and heartbreaking lullaby. They feel like that moment you put on a song because you already know it is going to reach right into your ribcage and hurt you so good. And then the time to part ways arrives and you feel like a piece of you goes to another part of the world while you take your salt clad lips home. It is all rather poetic in its own, very special way ~ and definitely not for the weak. But I see it this way, I would rather have fleeting moments of exceptional than a lifetime of average. It treats me well. So well I don’t know how to take it in at times and all I can do is brim with tears because I have never felt peace and care like this. Who knew it took a pandemic, hardship and flying half way across the world to collect some of these pieces of myself again. I knew it was going to be good but what I didn’t expect was that this would be even better than before.
And this is what it was… Another monumental set of beautifully effortless memories. Another perfect, Spanish Autumn. A standing ovation.
Spooky season magic
Celebrated my babe’s 17th birthday on Friday the 13th: she got herself a much coveted eyebrow piercing, stek dinner, Deftones tickets and Knotts Scary Farm. I normally don’t go for haunts but that was a lot of fun. We need to do that again and next time when we’re both not nursing stupid coughs. Last night I found myself reading old, now private entries, when she was a wee thing, documenting her milestones and things she and I used to say and do. Man did that kick up some dust and feels. Sometimes it is hard to believe I am a parent to an almost adult now. Shit is wild and an absolute privilege to be a part of.
Way too many medical appointments and body related nonsense to count – for both of us! The medical industry in this country is a fucking joke. I hate the ER with a damn passion that’s for sure and it is absolutely criminal that a 5 hr visit with minimal care merits a $16k bill. Thankfully we are both on the mend and the we have insurance, cause woof.
A solar eclipse in October – I only got to see a portion and I snagged that photo from a livestream cause I don’t own that kind of equipment. The energy that entire weekend was weird as hell. The universe is a wonderful place.
Errand running and a dentist appointment in a nun habit for Halloween. “Of course you did”. It got a lot of love and Sister Garcia from the Order of Perpetual Traviesas is happy to oblige. A nun and Elvis walk into a Target and then she got her teeth cleaned by Pinky the Pac-Man ghost… stop me if you’ve heard this one… fuck, I love halloween.
Counting down the days to impending travel, a beyond overdue and deserved break and birthday celebrations of Devilry. The gift of experiences and memories supersedes anything I could have ever been given and I am grateful I get to do this in his company. Again.
Setting up the first Dia De Muertos ofrenda that included my Mom… that was a hard one but also felt right to see Her there, knowing she’s somewhere better, free of so many things. Even Dad approved which felt nice to hear.
Routine establishment and trying to stick to it. Gotta finish what I start.
The feline terrors turn 12!
Swapping lists of wants, what to see, pack, share and do to one another. Encore.
Waking to poetry I inspired in my messages – I will never tire of being His muse or reason those dimples sink deeper.
Finally got to see the 1975 and it was *everything* I had hoped they would be.
Knowing with certainty that all the time, sacrifice and effort will be so worth it in the end.
Ice cream dates
The unsettling moments of staying in the present when all you want is to know what is next.
When you’re finally shown your instinct was right because holy shit was that a bullet dodged.
Scoring an Art Deco armoire on the curb for free
When you find something with someone who understands and values your attention to detail, conveys it and only wants more.
Couch naps with Judas during sunset.
Pumpkin carving with R to ofrenda glow and Corpse Bride
All the pumpkin chai lattes
Guilty pleasure trash tv shows
The magic of a 3 ingredient meal
Audio recorded whispers that are the gift that keep on giving.
twelve. more. days.
Picking passion fruit in the front yard on a bright & warm day.
An unexpected yet utterly welcome floral delivery.
The symbolism of Autumn’s impending arrival with grocery store pumpkin sightings.
Watching a spider bounce and weave her magic in the golden hour glow.
The rain bringing in a petrichor scented breeze.
Kitchen witchery in the form of pumpkin foam for my coffee and lemon coconut sugar scrub.
The romantic entanglement of a passion fruit vine and a sprig of lavender.
Having my letters/mail referred to as “an experience”.
Training those difficult boundary muscles.
Wet n’ Wild lip liner in shade #666.
Smelling like Lemon Tart and acting like it.
When the things you say+do paint colors on my flesh like an impressionist sunrise.
Walking past a couple of women on an ice cream cone date as one tells the other, “ice cream will always be a good idea”.
Revisiting that one track you had to take a break from because you listened to it into the ground and it being better than ever.
The last, fighting gasp of Summer.
The confidence of a freshly well-executed haircut.
My finding out that “Spain” means “land of rabbits” and the sense it makes.
When the muse knocks on the door.
Eggs paired with Boursin
The bravery of difficult honesty.
Locked pinky finger cab ride daydreams.
Double rainbows on both coasts and on a day a lot of people needed it.
A list inspired by the blue supermoon…
Knowing pieces of me are scattered in so many far away places.
How missing things, places and people can cut… deliciously and beautifully.
When the cruel realization of reality arrives.
When I am doing the work intended for many and I only have two hands.
A different shade of blue when He called me “solace”.
How I am expected to carry my own basket of hurt on the timeline of others.
When disparity and imbalance become commonplace.
Listening to meticulously crafted playlists that you know will sink you and you do it anyway.
How 49 looms but then I think about the where+who I spend it with and it doesn’t sting. (At least not in a bad stinging kinda way)
How people seem to forget I too have wants, needs, feelings, desires and I deserve to have them because I am more than just my roles.
When the moment arrives that you need the equivalent of a forehead kiss or band-aid as to say “everything is going to be ok, I got you” – and it doesn’t happen.
How it’s not so simple to surrender trust because you’ve been so grotesquely wronged.
When you still don’t have the answers as to why it was so easy for them to walk away and knowing you probably never will.
When I catch myself reverting to those old ways of feeling I have to prove I am worth the effort – but I catch it and adjust because I know better.
When water runs dry but the feelings remain.
How gestures of kindness and sincerity feel like a firing squad of flowers.
When the reciprocity palpably wanes.
When everything can bring you to tears (good and bad. water sign. I know.)
There is only one of me…. and not enough time.
(from my journal)
The evening and night skies have been a Pantone book of color as of late due to weather phenomenon and celestial alignments. Every tone of blue, bonfire and smoke. Rarities like us. I feel like a moth with tattered edges circling a blue-eyed votive flame. Nature may be stroking the sky with her best but when words set me ablaze into a shade that rivals hers and the color of my hair like no other? This is ritual in its most alchemically visceral form. There’s beauty in Our dance.
And the burn.
The moment before the sky parts with rain
In the eyes of someone who sees you without being given a map
The sunrise in Bali, sunset on the Pacific… or desert
The arrival section at the airport
Comfortable silence and shared understandings
In unapologetic authenticity
The roar of an airplane going places
When dreams come true
When timing serendipitously aligns
Lips and hands that feel like home
The look in someone’s eyes when they blow out birthday candles
The crispy pages of a new journal
Inside of a kept promise
When you discovered the toy inside the cereal box as a child
Crossing firsts off your list
When a flavor is laced with nostalgia
A wondrous display of nature
Ripping gift wrap apart
Grazes in unconventional and overlooked places
A perfectly made playlist
A vulnerable exchange of trust
Laughter through tears
When you find beauty and peace in a not so nice experience
Our secret language
My daughter’s laughter
When you’re moved by a song in a language you don’t speak
The comfort of that one movie you watch over… and over again
When the air smells of thunderstorm
When you get no red lights AND rockstar parking
A freshly made bed… and then destroying it.
(from my journal)
You are welcome to make me the villain in your story. You’re the clown in mine.
Summer thus far….
Solstice rituals and the return of stunning sunsets
Witnessing a run over body on the freeway with a carload of teenagers. An accident I came very close to being a part of but timing and fate chose otherwise. I still haven’t completely shaken that visual.
Feeling more in touch with my body and self.
boba + movie dates.
Unlocking core memories and putting away old ones.
Monarchs dancing in the yard.
A heightened sense of appreciation and gratitude.
The inevitable write-off and disappointment of the disloyal.
Pulling up to stoplights with the windows down, blasting “it’s raining men” and singing with R at the top of our lungs.
Pressing charges on some grown ass creep for hitting on my kid. Between this and the highway corpse I have met my popo quota for the year. Although getting flirted with by the CHP wasn’t something I expected to have on my bingo card but here we are.
Return to art, journaling, writing, walking, moving.
The thought of the dimples I know my portrait of him brought to his face.
Reconnection, reinvention, acceptance, amplification.
The decline of anxiety that was amplified by the pandemic.
Going to the Barbie movie with R clad in corpse paint and sharing not only that moment and ridiculously fun movie, but a bond about mother/womanhood with her.
“I am the way I am because of her” *wipes tear*
Not sharing everything because some things just have their place and sanctity.
The collective joy and awakening that something so simple as a film about a doll or a Taylor Swift concert has brought people together.
Lemon and smokey pineapple fragrances on my skin.
R is now a Junior in high school. JFC where has the time GONE. What a privilege to be here for all of it.
How utterly unabashed I have become. Is this what happens when you’re cusping the last year of your 40’s? I got no time for nonsense.
The impact of being shown reassurance I didn’t have to ask for. The bar is so unbelievably high.
Halloween goodies in July + August and the restraint to limiting myself with them.
The craving for experiences way more than things.
The conspiracy, plotting and countdown to our communing devilry. Encore.
The block of time between April and May, without fail, has always been a flux of significance in my life. It’s when I got married, when that all came to a demise, when I started my new lease on life… I reflect a lot around this time of the year and well, this year wasn’t short of monumental memories and life changing events.
I road tripped on my own through rain, mountains, snow and wildflower clad desert (on the same day!) to spend time with Ginny in Arizona. On my way there I stopped near the dunes where I had my massive femur fracture accident. I didn’t expect to have feelings about that but I did. How can I not? I almost bled to death in that swath of sand and the fact I stood near there 37 years later, limbs intact, isn’t lost on me. Ginny took me to visit Saguaro National Park – got to see some petroglyphs, Rattlesnake Bridge, tons of ridiculously cool cacti & chipmunk butts. The company, laughs and eats were supreme. I’m so ridiculously proud of her for so many things. I really need to tell her more.
Days after coming home from Arizona, Stephen came to visit – getting to see him after 3 years was medicinal. There’s a lot to be said for reconnection with those who have known you, and stood by you, for almost half your life. Shortly after he went home, the call we knew was coming arrived. “She’s gone”.
Life sure has a way of stacking you up with emotionally challenging moments and while I had years to prepare for it, it doesn’t really hit you until that moment comes. My Mom suffered entirely way too long from Alzheimer’s and her life came to an end on April 18th. A mere week away from her and my Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary. I have been intending on writing something a bit more formal to summarize her and her life but it has been such an absolute whirlwind of emotional chaos, while trying to work, parent, processing difficulty and all while trying to keep your head above water at the same time? Yeah. Not quite ready for that one.
We knew it would be like this. The call, the hustle to get home, the saga of a last minute journey to Mazatlan, funerary service and the novela-like comedy that came with it. Let’s face it, when it comes to Mexican Familia, it will always be interesting especially when it’s mine. All things considering we all managed to get there as timely and as best we could considering the logistical nightmare of my family being scattered everywhere. And while the circumstances were not ideal, getting to be in the same place as my sisters, niece, child and my Dad and Tia all at once has its special place – and we brought levity where we could with good eats and getting to sink my toes in some Pacific kissed sand.
Grief is such a complicated and complex emotion and everyone processes it so differently. I will say that this version of me certainly handled things a lot differently than old me would have but having Reza there with me was a full circle moment that meant so much to me. My outlook on death, rite and ritual allowed me to find and truly glimpse into Mom’s transition, even if it was hard to look at that mortality because it shared my features and felt the grit and ash of her remains on my fingertips.
She was there when we arrived into the world and we were there to see her leave it. It is one of the most poignant and beautiful moments of my life. It didn’t really hit me hard until we were departing on the plane, I’m listening to The National and sitting next to my own child – absolutely ready to come home and start healing. Tears in my eyes and her hand over mine. This one is going to take a while.
A common theme for me in everything right now is “surrender”. Right now, I am in retreating and cocooning. I’m exhausted of being seen as strong. Or how people keep adding more daggers to my already heavy rotation of juggling because they think I can handle it. These hands are bloody and tired – I long and ache for more travel, adventure, seeing new things, reveling in everything beautiful. And being in fight or flight all the time is bone breaking and unsustainable. There is a pang that there is something larger on my horizon and as scary and heartbreaking as it is, and will be, I need to let things develop and unfold the way they’re meant to instead of trying to swim against the current.
In the words of El Guapo, “you cannot force open the petals of a flowarrrre”. I unravel on my terms these days. One thing I will say: I have really paid close attention in the past two months about who understands and shows up. Selflessly. My family and chosen family are something else and I am so fucking fortunate for it and them.
I am so fucking loved.
Oh! And I got to see The Cure for the 4th time with my birthday twin B! It was Reza’s first time and I am stoked we got to share that one. Core memory: Unlocked!
The day crept in and then the reminder arrived. Three years ago today I was released from the legal confines of marriage. I won’t say it has been an easy journey, in fact, it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and one of the most painful experiences I have had to endure. In ways, it still is. Grief from demise and emotional trauma aren’t things you just forget about, you just learn to carry them differently, especially when it’s something you do for more than just yourself. Yet there’s lessons in hardship and beauty in transformation.
I have learned so much about myself in the past four years… lessons of trust, loyalty (or lack thereof) and even amongst the rubble of a destroyed home I managed to find my capacity to endure, love and overcome. To allow myself to be cared for. A better version of the woman I am and continue to become. A cluster of gemstone hidden in the mud that needed to come to the surface and a lot of polishing. Just because we heal from things doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to have emotions about them – and I have a vast array, no doubt. They’re mostly reflective and a lot less disappointment than I used to carry.
The calm that arrives after the storm is worth sailing enraged seas. Sure, there will be casualties along the way, but the journey continues because sometimes we elect to change the course for the life we deserve, instead of settling for the one we had. And that arrival is so worth it. This path is peacefully lush. Romantic, living & breathing poetry. I am so glad that choosing the harder path at the fork in the road led to this upgraded version of life. The skies parted and there is so much more light.