somewhere in mexico...
“The thing was, the older I got,” the woman said as she traced her finger around the rim of the turquoise water glass allowing the lights from the dance floor to reflect across her thin wrinkled skin, “The more memories I had.” She look at me straight in the eye as hers widened. They were brown, like mine, and almond shaped, like mine, and just under her right eye was a tiny little scar, in the same exact spot as mine. “Eventually honey,” she said standing up, an average sized but fit woman, “I had to just let most of that shit go. you know, the shit that didn’t work. Save the shit that does though honey, savor it.”
Her hips started to move, the synthesized keyboard music that the young mexican woman was singing to was calling to her. There was one sip left in her margarita glass and she chose the water to drink. Finishing the glass the woman winked at me. “So the question then becomes, what’s important enough to keep?” and with that a handsome older man came and whisked her onto the empty dance floor. She pulled the sandy grey bun that lay messily on the top of her head, like mine, down and her hair cascaded over her shoulders. The man smiled, nestled his head into her neck for a brief moment and then returned to her face to stare deeply into her eyes as they began to sway.
The red, blue and green lights flashed over their skin and mine. I could not help but wonder what the fuck we were all doing here in this makeshift nightclub circa 1982 that was actually the hotel lobby/restaurant an hour south of the border? I could not help but wonder what the fuck we were all doing here on this rock that orbits in space over and over and over ad infinitum as far as I could tell? I was in fact another year older, as we all were to some degree, because really it’s just another day, our birthday’s, just another day. Every day, in a very real way, is another birthday, another chance to start again, to let shit go, to make new choices and begin to live the life you’ve always wanted to live.
Another chance to radically accept every wonderful misguided fucked up part of who you are. Every brilliant thought you have ever had and the idiotic ones too. Every body part you have judged as too big or too small. Every hair too long, too short or my god what is a hair doing growing there?
Another chance to remember every friend you have ever loved, present or past. Every ex too. Another chance to be grateful for the family you’ve been given and the family you have chosen, for they all play important roles in our unfolding.
Another blessed chance to ask your heart what it wants and to open it to another human being to see, to let in, to love. What must that be like? I wondered watching the sets of couples move together across the end of year impromptu dance floor, to actually let love in? to Let romantic, partnership love, in?
I thought about it for the next two days. I went to sleep asking the god i hoped to believe in. I woke up searching my dreams for anything close to an answer, anything i could hold on to that would show me how to let love in. That other-kind-of-love. I have in my life, of course, amazing amounts of love. but how do I drop the great barrier reef of protection i know I hold around me (particularly in my belly and chest) and let that other-kind-of-love the fuck in. I want it. I have wanted it. My whole life i have wanted it.
A quiet question bubbled up inside me that I could not ignore as I watched the woman enjoy every sway in her hips the man led her into - what if there is no difference? What if love is not something to be categorized into types? What if you have this whole entire thing backwards as you seem to know you do? Wisdom. I thought. Wisdom I am not quite sure I understand yet, but on the eve of this new year, after the eve of my birthday, wisdom I know I don’t need to nor can necessarily figure out in the linear fashion so… I accept, I allow, I welcome….
Two days later, after sleep, rest, relaxation and 48 hours of listening to the waves lap the ocean I have so graciously allowed myself to get lost in, I found myself seated at the same table I was at days earlier. My friend was upstairs otherwise detained and i had ordered us two margaritas. As I was about to give up all hope for magic on this imminent new year's passing, because, like my birthday, it was really just another day, i saw the woman breeze in on her own special cloud of joy and enthusiasm.
She was wearing long sleeves and just as before, had her grey hair in a bun on her head. The crows feet by her eyes were glorious and her laugh lines inspiring. And let’s be clear, it’s not like I had not laughed a lot in my edge of 40 life, believe me I have. And it’s not like I am unaware that i have been blessed with quite literally the best people on the planet in my edge of 40 life, because, believe me I have, but there was, there has been, a historically experienced feeling of lonely, of existential angst of-
“Ennui?” the woman asked sitting down and sipping from my friend’s untouched drink. I gave her a how did you know look before uttering a word and she launched into the words that would change my life forever, as if she hadn’t done that two days earlier as it was.
“Here’s the thing, the thing is to be in love with is the very thing itself. It’s the breath you breathe honey. It’s every hello and every goodbye you have ever even thought to have. find the love in all of it! If you think these people, myself included, have been happily in love for every minute of every day they have spent together you are sorely mistaken. But have you been in love with yourself?” she paused for effect and saw my friend approaching the table.
She snapped her left hand and I swear to god everything…. slowed…… down. She made sure her brown eyes were peering into mine. “Have you been in love with yourself every moment of every day? Have you let yourself partake of the love that you in fact are? The moment I fell in love with myself, unconditionally... the moment I woke up to the fact that that love is who I am? that the most enthusiastic, most loving person anyone had ever met? that that person all of those friends and family members and lovers that I had never actually let in prior to that very moment were talking about…. was actually who I was? and that I was allowed to fucking revel in it? That in fact it was actually my job, my responsibility to revel in it? In that moment? All bets were off baby, all of them.”
I felt the words sift their way into my ears, past my brain and into my heart. I had the strangest sense that I had heard them before. Or that she had said them before. And before i could question it any further the words that i knew would exit her mouth next, the last words i knew she would ever say to me out of her perfectly painted red dainty lips, did. “So my question to you, before all of this starts again...” she snapped and time resumed, my friend feet away from the table not at all surprised that I would be talking to a stranger, I did it all the time.
“What are you waiting for?” She held my eyes for two more seconds. “What exactly are you waiting for?” and then she stood up and walked across the dance floor into the arms of the same man from two nights earlier. And again, he nestled his way into her ear and she let out a very familiar laugh.
“Sounds like you.” my friend observed raising her glass to toast me. “She kinda looks like you!” the warmth of this statement spread through my body and before I knew it the room was counting down. “Ten, nine, eight…” the woman caught my eye from across the room and as seven, six, five and four were covered, I could swear she pushed up her sleeves to reveal tattoos in the exact same spots on her wrist as mine…. She winked at me and turned into the arms of her man. “Three…” my friend took my arm. “Two….” I had to ask myself the same question as the clock ticked on to one.
What exactly am I waiting for?
“ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!”
The room spun, fireworks sounded, noise makers blared, lips kissed, arms hugged, wishes wished and I…..in that instance knew the woman was gone. And I also knew I would, without fail, love harder, faster, and more unconditionally than I had any other year of my life. I knew i would start with myself and let it bleed out to others. I knew I would let myself follow my bliss, allow my soul to sing, my voice to sing, my life to sing. I knew that at all costs I would knock down that wall, let love in, make new choices and live the life i have always wanted to live, right, now.
And in that moment i knew the biggest part of living this way was surrendering to whatever it was bigger than the me who wanted things to happen if the first place. To whatever it was that moved me to feel so out of time in the first place. To whatever it was that moved the waves that happened to be crashing on that magnificent shore I was looking at in this exact moment, on this exact earth rock, with these exact people that I am lucky enough to share this planet with as this exact new year did come to pass. So, I surrendered….
And you wouldn’t believe what happened next!