If you are reading this congratulations you’ve made it to part three of my never needed permissions series *claps in a circle*. I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, asked about my next write-up, and told me I’m hilarious because I wholeheartedly believe I can only get my jokes off in writing.
Now that that is out of the way lets get into why baby gurl took a leave of absence for four months to go hang out with artists and eat tacos.
So, my internet friends, I am back. I’ve just returned from Mexico and I have so much to tell you guys and gals.
Oooo wait before we delve into my “enlightened state” I wanna start with two things that are top of mind and have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the write up. They are 1) despite my waistline being in shambles, tacos are easily my favorite food in the world 2) I am still riding the high of being able to have a 10 minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker and as a result I will be applying for Mexican citizenship at the end of this write up (shoutout to Sergio) and viva la Mexico!
Hmm where was I? Ah yes, being back. I’m back. I know it was only two and half months but ya’ll know it is “unprecedented times” so it might as well have been six months. My time away was what I needed for me and now that I am back state-side I’ve come face to face with friends and family’s genuine curiosity about my time on the road. The top two questions I’ve been asked are 1) do you feel different and 2) what did you learn? You would think that I would be prepared to answer these questions – right? Because you can’t just decide to leave your job, your home and friends and not come back different – right?! *laughs nervously*
Well, I hate to break it to you like this but I don’t feel different and while I did do a retreat in the mountains ya girl ain’t Buddha. Butttttt, I can say without a doubt I did learn some things. So I figured I’d break this into three parts: the why, what I’ve learned and what is next.
I’m going to keep it hunnid with you I needed a break. I wanted a break. So I took a break. (Dec 7)
That was my initial “why”. I wanted to keep it simple but I realized I was only doing myself a disservice by being vague. So here is the real deal: I was getting to the point in life where I was just going through the motions and that freaked me out. I, also, realized that I’d put off all of my personal projects because I didn’t have the “time.” So what better way to get some time and be intentional than by taking a leave of absence from your job.
Before rolling out I decided that my time away would be successful if I did two things 1) rest and 2) create. I know I said “do nothing” earlier but nothing reads as explore my curiosities, rest and create.
So yeah, those were and are my only expectations of myself during these next couple of months. As far as the destinations, I let art dictate my miles and I decided on New York, Amsterdam/Switzerland and Mexico City.
Once the logistics were settled I got the support I needed from the people that mattered, ordered some “grown-up luggage” and just did it.
I did Brooklyn for about a week and caught up with old and new friends. I crashed a park barbecue and danced with some old folks to Bobby Caldwell’s Won’t Do for Love, went to the Armory International Art Show and found a new love for random people on the sidewalks screaming out “Good morning, amor! Have a blessed day!” (At this point, I’d visited NY a billion times before but this time was different and for a second I thought to myself I could totally live here but then I saw a rat, think Master Splinter size rat, and that thought went just as fast as it had come.)
I wrapped up New York and hopped over to Europe. It was dope and my highlights were of course Art Basel, ringing in my 30th, and lastly, the janky scar on my right wrist that I got from stopping traffic. How did I manage to stop traffic you ask? Well, my friend, I found myself on the back of this guy’s bike catching a freaking leg cramp. In my attempt to adjust myself I decided to defy gravity, one thing lead to another, and I was flying off the back of the bike like Will Smith being thrown out of Uncle Phil’s home in Bel-Air 🥴 (I’m pretty sure I have tendinitis in the wrist now but the date was definitely worth it) LMAO.
Yeah, New York and Europe were great. I enjoyed them both. But Mexico…Mexico really out did herself.
Like I said before, I picked all of my destinations with art as the focal point. Mexico City has more than 150 museums, provides refugee to so many artists and of course is home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I could walk down any street and pop into any gallery meet the curator, meet the owner and, if lucky, the damn artist themselves. It was, in the words of my new friend Marco, quite lovely.
Mexico, beyond the art, gave me grace unknowingly. It allowed me to be me without asking anything else of me. I met and made community. I sat and chatted for hours with strangers who were deeply passionate about film, documentaries, art, and mezcal. For the first time in a really long time, I felt like the norm and not the outlier with my hobbies. I learned a lot and made some life-long homies (y’all know I’m a chatty box when I’m comfortable and I got real comfortable.)
I definitely have more to write about but until then here is what I’ve got to report back (in no particular order).
What I’ve Learned (about myself + travel)
- There is something about travel that allows you to reinvent yourself. I don’t think Mexico, the country, really did anything in particular but I do think being in new spaces, cities, etc. gives you the opportunity to decide how you show up and sometimes that is all you need – a fresh start.
- I thought about Anthony Bourdain a lot on my trip (not in a kinky way but in a deep sense of reverence). I am deeply curious about other people’s experiences/lives and I really admired his approach to seeing the world.
- I love the mountains (please I did not say anything about hiking).
- I realized that a lot of people are winging it. I am still deciding on whether it is comforting or alarming.
- I will try anything once if, and only if, I feel safe. (You want to eat crickets and rent a car to visit remote cities – I’m ya girl.)
- Half the battle is how you identify yourself and I’ve decided I am a writer. I am a conversational writer.
- I reflected on community a lot. Mostly, because I was so surprised at how naturally I collected folks along the way and made my own. (LOL saying collected sounds like I’m gathering up infinity stones.) Of course, I could have been stern and made it all about me and my eat, pray love journey blah blah blah but people really made the trip. I weirdly learned a lot about myself too – the folks around me were holding up some serious mirrors for reflections/introspection (and I needed that). Anywho, I came to the following conclusion people are meant to live with other people, community can make or break you and isolation leads to death prematurely.
- My mom and I did a road trip to Tulum. On this trip I really got to know Abeba and who she is outside of being a mother and wife. (I know not everyone has the opportunity to do a week long mom and daughter trip but please find a way to get to know your mothers, it is a privilege.)
- Uncomfortable situations speed up the language learning process (try describing the word tampon to someone and things get weird real fast).
- Ladies, ladies, ladies get yourself a nice knife. (I’ve had one for forever courtesy of my pops.) I can’t even begin to describe the peace of mind I had carrying around my blade in my cute little purse. I felt safe 99.9% of the time on my trip(s) and only used it once when I locked myself in a cafe bathroom by accident.
- “You don’t always have to be doing something. You can just be, and that’s plenty.”
- I like traveling BUT I genuinely hate flying. I need teleportation like yesterday.
- This trip required that I develop a different relationship with my hair and loved every minute of it.
- I realized how important words of affirmation from friends and family are to me. Thank you to everyone who helped me realize this on my 30th. I love you guys.
- Lastly, coming in full circle, as I’ve said countless times before I never needed permission…from anyone else – I learned that I just had to give it to myself.
There are about another 20+ personal things that I learned about myself but I don’t think I how to articulate them just yet so lets just go with this list for now :).
The million dollar question is what’s next? Well folks I have another month and a half left in my journey – I’ve got some more learning to do, some more rest and creating to get too and a laundry list of things to explore before I can satisfy you with a well put together answer. I can say that there will be more write-ups. I’m challenging myself to write more and get over myself with audio/video footage. All of this will be happening while I figure out how to reacquaint myself with the DMV. I’ve technically been gone for over a year+ sooooo deciding on whether or not to move back is a big deal.
So, yeah I’m not lost. I just needed time to do nothing. I hope you make the time to do your own version of nothing for a day, a week, a month or a year because you deserve it.
Here go some flicks of people, food, and meeeee. To the humans (and pups) I crossed path with – thank you for your time, love, and energy. I would not have had the experience I had without meeting y’all crazies!