Saturday, May 18, 2019

mine, too

"Is this your first pregnancy?" she asked. The question hit me like a ton of bricks. "Yes," I whispered. Deep shame-ridden breaths. My first pregnancy. My first.
She became gentler with her words. Everything felt so surreal. I wasn't supposed to be in this situation. I thought I'd been responsible. I had been careful.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

hygge in luxembourg

We met at a bar.
How quaint, n'est pas ? He was speaking Spanish and had ordered pisco sours. I was intrigued. Pisco sours were not on the menu nor, in my opinion, are they well-known in the States. I was tipsy enough to rudely interrupt them, ask where he was from. Venezuela. Thus the accent I could not place. I must've followed with an explanation of my familiarity with the cocktailnorthern Chile, study abroad, menu del diasand somehow got to Paris and how he'd recently moved from there, and Madrid, but mostly Cyprus.
He went back to reunite with the birthday party, and I turned back towards the friends I'd come with. This was our second stop after a company Christmas party. We were decked out accordingly. I felt warm, fuzzy, gleefully at ease with how life in SF had evolved. To my right was a Russian friend I'd met in Luxembourg, once. She'd moved back to the Bay not long before I moved up. We've gotten close since. Another friend had joined us, originally from China, with her German boyfriend. Amazing people I only knew by chance.
This was an important realization. Having relocated so regularly as I have, I've often felt lonely; unknown, and too much so.
It's made the serendipitous who matter more. For example: a French girl that cautiously entered an exchange program and ended up in my small hometown at the same time my parents agreed to host an international student, and clicked with myself and my family so completely so that we'd remain close close enough to then visit in Strasbourg, Los Angeles, Luxembourg (see above, below).
She's the reason I've studied French, why moving to Paris for grad school felt accessible, how I somehow had family nearby there.
"Life is about the journey, not the destination" is one of many platitudes I'd prefer to live without, but, as each year passes, my outcome-driven soul is finding it to be mostly true. The experiences have been enriching. But more importantly, my life has been made so full by the amazing souls I've met, stayed in touch with, had the immense pleasure of reuniting with whenever possible.
Then there are those passing connections, in which you're reminded how small and peculiar the world is (case in point: he'd worked with this guy) but also how magically vast. Our conversations were deep and inquisitive; his perspective, completely unique from my own. We discussed the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and racial inequity in the United States and the tensions between immigration and integration in France. He also introduced me to Colombian music. We danced. We laughed, a lot.

It all matters.

Friday, February 15, 2019

the other side of the border

"You should write this down," he said, "your thoughts, your observations, this seems like the kind of thing you'll want to be able to remember."
Last week, I came back to San Francisco from... San Francisco. I'd spent six days in my dad's Mexican hometown. It was not, as so many assumed, "fun". But it wasn't not fun. Instead, as another friend told me after listening to my recap, "it sounded so beautiful, and so special that you can connect with that side of you, and it's so close generationally, still." Yes, exactly. It felt like that.

My brother and sister hadn't been there in ~22 years. They hadn't known what to expect. They haven't pursued post-grad studies and application of Spanish in my same way. I might assume then that the experience we shared might be more poignant to them. For all intensive purposes, they saw and heard, for the "first time", the world my dad was born into. They had more questions. While he re-embraced his original norms, they observed (more often than not) with reverent curiosity. I imagine there was distinct magic to it.

Even still, I'd consider myself distinctly privileged to have some familiarity, recalling my last visit and remnants of the nearly annual childhood trips. El rancho always feels far "from home", but it's not quite as foreign to my heart. I was able to recognize their experiences and that of my father, and dare I presume, appreciate both.

What was new, this time around, was my full-circle understanding of the following truths:
  • My dad grew up rich; if we consider rich surrounded by extended family, nourishing locally-sourced food, clean and clear skies, respect for hard work matched with active leisure (read: soccer) and convivial rest.
  • My dad accepted the fact that he loved his home but wouldn't find the opportunities for financial success that he desired.
  • So my dad left; he haphazardly entered the cruel American grind with a weak grasp of English and the kindness of a few friends/family who'd arrived before him, and he figured that sh** out. I imagine some days, and weeks, and months were harder than others--they had to have been--but he did it. He worked multiple jobs and went to school at night and fell in love with mother and started a family and then his own business. He achieved the American dream. He said so out loud last week, while visiting his parents (who live on the same property where he and his eight siblings were born, by the way, but now with two new houses and a multitude of modern amenities) with his three college-educated children, two of whom also have master's degrees. What's even more amazing, if such a concept is at all possible, is how he built this life with as much generosity of spirit and faith in humanity as he continues to possess. My mom sometimes call it naïveté. My father is certainly a flawed man, as any one of us are, but my gosh how I aspire to embody and pass on such wholeness.