I’m bad at Good-Byes

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“I’m no good at good-byes.”

Have you said this before? I certainly have. And I’ve chosen a life-style that, until recently, had me saying “good-bye” every few years as I moved my life around countries and continents. In every new city I fantasizing about starting a home there, but soon I knew (even if I didn’t admit it to myself) that I would be leaving. “Good-bye” became a part of every interaction, every experience, every home, even if the actual leave-taking was months or years away. When I finally left a place, I mourned the life I abandoned. I dreamed of a victorious return. But then I moved on. My real home was my parents’ home, and it was potent enough for me to feel content with my dozens of makeshift ones around the globe.

I’ve now lived in New York for longer than I ever lived anywhere besides my parents’ place. Time, relationships and maturity have helped me start a real home here, a home of good friends and layered experiences. I am making this home with someone else, and we have decided to leave it. The “good-bye” we’re planning is a temporary one (we will return!). Somehow, though, this leave taking is dredging my soul in an unexpected way. I’m just no good at “good-byes!”

We plan on leaving for 6 months. We will be traveling around the globe, together, being a home for each other in the midst of new places. But I am sad to leave what we have here: The home of our routines. The home of our proximity. Leaving is scary in a way it never was when I was in my twenties, when I hadn’t let myself commit to anything yet. “Good-bye” for this temporary leave-taking looks like a mishmash of hasty coffees and dinners with friends I only see occasionally. It looks like a party we haven’t planned yet, and trips, canceled and undertaken, to see my beloved parents and my far-flung friends. It looks like a real good-bye, a messy one. The kind I’m good at.

I feel like I am losing something because of this good-bye. We are losing jobs. We are losing that comfortable rut that we’ve carved to bind the weeks of the past with the weeks of the future. But these are things we want to lose: that it why we are making this jagged leap in a new direction. Is it possible this feeling of loss is simply a by-product of all of the bad good-byes I have said before, both the heart-wrenching and the flippant? Maybe there is a ghostly raft that floats deep inside of me of all the people and places I said good-bye to and left behind forever. They are mad at me for taking leave so dishonestly (“I’ll be back!”). This time I mean it though. I’m just no good at good-byes.

 

Hidden Fountains in Manhattan

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The fountain in Samuel Paley Park, on East 53rd Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

 

If you walk around midtown Manhattan in the summer, you’re going to get hot. Not only hot, but you’ll get thirsty, and maybe those new shoes you bought will be starting to rub your heel the wrong way. If you’re like me, you might even be starting to get disgruntled with the hundreds of pedestrians around you, all of whom walk at a different pace, in a different direction, in groups or with phones held in front of them, stopping and starting and crissing and crossing unpredictably.

If you find yourself disgruntled, or in pain, or just hot, duck into one of the tiny parks  tucked into the cross streets of this concrete jungle. These little every-man’s spas often feature fountains, which offer their cooling spray and calming sound to the frenzied minds of city dwellers. Sit down at one of the cafe tables and relax for a bit. Kick those shoes off, if you must! The sound of rushing water kills the sirens and honking, the drills and the drones of Manhattan airwaves. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to walk a few more blocks until you discover another secret fountain.

Succulents in Mexico City

I’m very much enjoying the challenges that Cee posts at her site. Here is my interpretation of Week 1 of her Fun Foto Challenge.

Look at how well these cute little plants do in the dry altitude of Mexico City!

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In the DF’s Botanical Gardens, the succulents are geometrically thriving!

(Self)Soothing Airport Drawings

 

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I really like the different patterns of lines on the asphalt.

When I was a little kid, back before airport security intensified, my babysitter used to bring me to Logan airport in Boston, just to hang out. There they had a children’s play area, complete with a climbable airplane, and a Rube Goldberg machine. I loved watching the pool balls roll around this musical sculpture. I never knew which path they would take, and which of the percussive instruments they would hit. The abstract arrangement of bells, chimes, and drums was soothing to my young ears.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these past few months, mostly by air, and that calm feeling is gone. Despite the really impressive improvements of airports like Atlanta’s and San Francisco’s, that 2-hour wait in the terminal is never an enjoyable one for me. My childhood excitement of air travel is replaced with the frustration of incomprehensibly long security lines at New York’s JFK.

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Classic terminal view. (Logan airport, Boston)

As much as I like my iPad, I don’t think they make good waiters, nor do they make lovely table decorations. Unfortunately, most airport restaurants now feature tablets on every table. So instead of eating something that will inevitably make my stomach inflate against the airplane safety belt, I’ve found a new airport pastime: I didn’t realize I’d come up with this solution until I tried organizing my digital drawings. It turns out I have an interest in drawing airplanes and airports!

 

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An abstraction of all of the interesting lines of the airport ground. (JFK, New York)

Trails

A daily visit in Oak Bluffs

I love the sight of a path ahead of me. I love the way it stretches into trees or grass or a field of flowers, and I love it better if it’s narrow. A narrow dirt path is a quiet place. It swaddles me between its green sides, safe and contained. No matter how many times I’ve walked upon the trail, I’ll never be bored of seeing butterfly weed blooming orange, and the monarchs with their matching wings settling to rest on their blooms. I’m always happy to meet the tree that offers a bit of shade to the yellowing grass.

This path is in Dover, New York

On Martha’s Vineyard, there are many of these trails. They circumnavigate small farms and cut across fields that have been left to grow out. One path pushes through a bank of goldenrod to the coastline, where a small bay with a precious beach lies peacefully waiting. Luckily for me, trails are not the main draw of the island in the summer. Tourists seem to prefer the beach or the T-shirt shops of town, and year-long residents have other things to do. I often find myself alone on the path, just me and the birds and the heat.

The trail to Gay Head Beach on Martha’s Vineyard

My little tennessee

That’s the name of a song that one of my boyfriends bands does. It’s only appropriate because we’re in Tennessee right now. Tennessee is not mine, nor does is appear to be little. In fact, I’ve had a very soul-searching experience of having to confront my own misinformed prejudices while I’ve been here in the great city of Nashville.

We came for the Country Music Award Festival, four nights of country music in a steamy football stadium. I’ve got to sit down and write a computer post soon —not one of these off-the-cuff phone rants. But for now I’ll just say: tonight is our first night after the CMAs where we won’t be going to the stadium, and I miss it! I’ll miss the Dallas couple behind us and the fuzzy haired baby wearing ear protecting headphones. And I’ll miss the moths!!

#cmafest2018 #countrymusic

Great Water

A quick post after a longish trip: My mother and I went on an impromptu road trip around Northern Michigan. We knew that water would feature prominently in our adventures, because Michigan borders on three of the five Great Lakes. But Michigan delivered beyond our expectations!

Here are a few pictures of the great water we saw.

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Kitch-iti-Kipi: a freshwater spring of crystal waters that measures 40 feet deep. You can see straight to the bottom, past the trout and other fish that swim around, where sand puffs up with the water gushing in from the bottom.

 

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Tahquamenon Falls: The state park offers views of two large waterfalls, the Upper and Lower. I love how the water falls in an even sheet over the flat sandstone cliff.

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Huron Lake: I was shocked by the tropical colors of this Northern Michigan freshwater lake. It was so clean and tempting that I soaked my sneakers trying to cup water in my hands to drink (I succeeded, several times. Delicious!)

Mompox

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When my friend and I traveled to Mompox in 2010, we knew it was unlikely that it would be an easy trip. Santa Cruz de Mompox (or Mompós) is a town in the north of Colombia, nestled between the Magdalena river and the Pozelo swamp. It was founded as an important colonial bridge to transport wealth between the port of Cartagena and the South American interior, but since Colombia’s independence Mompox has relaxed into the sleepy and remote town that my friend and I were lucky enough to visit. The Liberator, Simon Bolivar, said of Mompox, “If to Caracas I owe my life, to Mompox I owe my glory” (It was in Mompox that he recruited many of the soldiers who he led to liberate Nueva Granada). Conversely, novelist Gabriel García Márquez said “Mompox doesn’t exist. Sometime we dream about it, but it doesn’t exist.”

So does Mompox exist? Indeed it does. It took us a few bus rides and a ferry to get there. We found beautifully preserved colonial buildings, quiet riverside restaurants and friendly filigree artisans constructing the jewelry the town in now famous for. On our way out of town, my friend and I decided to brave the land route we had heard about. Mompox did not have a bridge until 2015, but they were preparing for construction during our visit with a bridge of dirt. Unfortunately, the frequent flooding of the region made the bridge crumble under trucks and cars, and the day we were leaving a bulldozer tumbled into the water and a transport truck threatened to do the same. Our taxi wouldn’t cross, so we walked across and met a taxi on the other side. Later on, our bus was stopped by the fires of a protest and we had to walk ahead a little farther, but that’s a story for another day.

Samba Journal: Intro

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When I was living in Barranquilla, I was hungry for exercise. I was unfamiliar enough with the culture that I wasn’t sure what classes I would like, so I just lazily didn’t take any. Of course, nightly dancing helped me stay limber, but I probably consumed as many calories in beer and aguardiente as I worked off.

When a friend came to visit, she brought me four workout DVDs: Quenia Ribero’s samba workouts. My roommate and I tried one (Afro Reggae!) some steamy afternoon and we were immediately hooked. Quenia’s charisma, along with the new dance moves that we could employ that very night at the corner dance party at La Troja, was a winning combination. I worked out with Quenia’s DVDs for the rest of my time in Barranquilla.

Years later, I moved to New York. Part of my settling into a new home is looking for my workout community, and I wanted to continue learning samba, a dance, music and culture that enchants me. Imagine the thrill I felt when I saw Quenia’s name next to a Samba class just a few miles downtown, at the Alvin Ailey Extension.

I’ve been Sambaing with Quenia pretty steadily fir the last 6 years. She is a wonderful dance Mentor and I never regret going to a class. Samba, with its quick steps, open arms and kicks and turns, is an expression of happiness. I love the low thump of the surdu beneath the constant chattering of repinique. I love dancing Samba!

And that is why I have signed up for the samba performance class. We will be practicing every week to put on a show this summer, and I’ll be writing about the experience here.

I’ve already made the point that I enjoy Samba. In my Samba Journal I want to really delve into that love and explore it. I would also like to interview Quenia and hear more about her story as a Brazilian dancer who’s succeeded on her own here in New York City. Hopefully I’ll be able to dip into some of my own experiences living in Rio de Janeiro. I want to bring it all to you!

If you’re too excited and can’t wait for more samba, check out my playlist La Giraffa’s First Day of Spring. Also, I highly recommend Alma Guillermopreito’s book, Samba!. It’s a little old but that was definitely the beginning of my samba journey and maybe it will be yours, too. IMG_5050.jpg