I’ve packed my bags and gone to Mexico City… I did that. Why? I don’t have a clear answer to that question. I always wondered why I was, wherever it was… I was. As a child, it was because the adults in my life decided. As a young adult, it often was a matter of convenience. But, what is my excuse now? For whatever reason, I felt compelled to try something different, so I bought a ticket to Mexico.
When I first arrived, I was sedated with fear. Fear that I looked like a foreigner and would be taken advantage of for that reason, fear that my ignorance of local agreements, understandings if you will, would lead to me putting myself in a bad situation, fear that communication would be a major problem. Nevertheless, my few moments of bravery illuminated the fact that while there may be things of worthy concern (as in any city), I can manage. My command of the Spanish language is often more of a request… But, I find whenever I express myself, I am understood and every time that happens, I feel like I’ve gotten away with something. I look around, expecting for someone in the corner to be glaring at me, saying under their breath, “I saw your Duolingo account, you’re only 55% fluent. You can’t fool me.” But, instead everyone continues on with their business, unaware of the personal feeling of enchantment I am experiencing.
Condesa is a most delightful place to stay. I think of it like Northern Liberties with West Philly aesthetics, like downtown Austin, like The Mission; a Yuppie Paradise. And while I am more than grateful to have the opportunity to be here… I get sad sometimes. While I can easily express myself, a full human to human, back and forth communication, takes a lot of energy, making it difficult to make friends. My look is very exotic for Mexico City and it is very, very easy to sense while walking down the street. All this combined with not having a fully formed understanding of the culture here, makes me feel alone. It reminds me a lot of when I was homeless, watching everyone carry on with their leisurely existence while I struggle to just live. It also reminds me that I don’t have a solid base. I don’t have family that I talk to on a regular basis or friends that keep in touch with me, without me reaching out to them. I have Out of Sight-Out of Minders. This became very apparent to me when I found myself ill within the first week or so of my arrival. My throat swelled like a golf ball, I became so weak, walking to the restroom was a chore, I slept 18 hours a day, I lost my appetite, and I lost my voice… And while all this was happening, the only person who stayed in contact with me was someone I’ve only known a few months. Now, I don’t begin to feel sorry for myself, but this situation brought about a reflection of feelings I had when I was homeless, sleeping on the street. I was in a place of extreme emotional and physical vulnerability and in situations like this, people show you exactly who you are to them, but I could never hold that against anyone… In the past, I would find my feelings hurt, but now I’m grateful. The abandonment issues I was plagued with as a child, led to me attaching myself to the fleeting, to the evasive; a futile attempt at reconciling the past. But, now I am grateful for the elusiveness of others, for their vague commitments, because I now have a better understanding of what deserves my attention, for the sake of my own mental health and happiness. In other words, as a non meat eater, I appreciate dishes that reveal themselves as having meat, right away, because I know sooner, that they are not for me. But, I’m sure someone else will enjoy them.
I eventually came to the realization that Mexico City’s altitude of 2,250m (7,381 ft) was a major factor in my ailment. I wasn’t hydrating myself like I was 7,000 ft above sea level, I was drinking alcohol like normal, and not getting nearly enough rest. Lesson Learned-ed! If the past year of struggle was the last year of my undergraduate experience, Mexico City is a prestigious internship. Lessons from the past few years are appearing as guidance in a new reality. I am so grateful to have the privileged opportunity to spend time growing here. I’m grateful that I am able to follow up the past year of extreme struggle with this wonderful experience. I am grateful that I am able to escape the matrix that is millennial-ism, I’m grateful to be in a place where white beauty is not the standard, and I’m grateful to be more conscious. For so long, I felt like I was running from my past, from my pain, and for once, I feel like I’m existing. I’m done waiting for people to come around. Someone wise once told me, “continue to do what you love and everything else -people and opportunities- will fall into place. So, I’m going to keep running, toward my future, rather than from my past.