There are many different Forms to the Essence of Creativity, and my experience is that they like to shift around and surprise us.
I have barely touched my paints and brushes, since I got here.
Yet I have created a home and written a lot.
I feel the call to write and the joy in letting the words flow. I can barely not write, these days.
Just as I couldn’t seem to stop painting, last summer.
Or making pinch pots, the previous winter.
Following the call, the nudge, the urge or the whisper.
Not hardening around “I brought my paints across the border and darn it, I will paint.”
Respecting the cycles.
Even when they ask us to simply sit.
Trusting in the calling of the Joy.
I think gyms are ugly.
And for me, ugly is a life shrinker.
I need Beauty. Whatever Beauty means to me, which may be completely different from what it means to you.
I need for my eyes to be pleased in order to open up, to say yes, to be ready, to create.
I have found Beauty in the mud of a refugee center, I have found Beauty in the toothless smile of a very old man, in the orange-ness of a sunset and in the shiny-ness of a new pair of shoes.
I have never found Beauty in a gym.
In my occasional path-crossings with gyms, I have pushed myself to suck it up and focus on the work at hand.
I have run on treadmills facing rows of TVs, I have pushed bars over my head next to sweaty strangers.
I have never enjoyed it.
(I particularly don’t enjoy doing very personal stuff next to strangers and good god working out feels personal to me)
Also, as much as I’ve wanted to find my zone when running I seem to only get there when running on a treadmill. Weird and slightly disappointing to me, but there I have it.
So I’ve worked out from my home - or not worked out all all.
Until this past week.
When my sister was here, she and I treated ourselves to a day pass at the pretty darn fancy local beach club. We swam in the infinity pool, laughed like silly girls when asked to leave the dreamy VIP beach tents (turns out these cost 50 times the price of the day pass), and ate delicious French cheeses from our poolside couches.
While sipping a pinada, I noticed a small, wide open room with some exercise equipment, facing the beach.
Specifically a treadmill.
I went to take a look.
Now that was a gym that knew a thing or two about Beauty!
Just a few machines, open air to the breeze on three sides, no one else around and did I mention: a treadmill facing the ocean?
I promptly found out that for less than thirty dollars a month, this could be mine.
I said yes. Yes, please por favor. And gracias.
For less than thirty dollars a month, I now get to walk past the infinity pool (very specifically not included), step barefoot onto the machine (probably not allowed in regular gyms for all kinds of reasons but this is still Mexico) and run, run, run ... my eyes and heart filled by the sight and sound of the waves and the pelicans and the occasional surfer. And I get to do this with no one sweating next to me.
It has been a magical cherry on top of a delicious cake.
AND it has asked my busy mind to keep its opinion to itself, too.
To which I answer:
Maybe but I don’t care.
I LOVE it.
I love the running, I love the Beauty and yes, I love the luxury.
Also, I love the contrast.
I love leaving my little tiny house, getting into my big dusty car, driving through dirt roads and parking in the “special people” parking lot.
Then slowly walking into the magnificent, five stars looking lobby of this amazing place, on my way to giving my body some strength and life force.
Because we are made of contrasts, and when we allow ourselves to embrace them, to not let ourselves be identified by a tight label, we start to feel whole and bold and strong.
Here’s to Beauty, whatever it is for us - and here’s to daring to say yes to unusual, life-celebrating invitations.
Margarita was sitting in front of my home, looking extra stunning with two bright colors of bougainvilleas bending down over her.
She was running well, showcasing her new car seat covers, it was showtime and I was ready.
I did the math and confirmed that I would never be able to sell her for the number of pesos I had invested in her purchase and rehabilitation.
This brought forth the question of how much I was willing to pay for The Lesson. The lesson in Authenticity, the lesson in remembering that I was not my brand, and the lesson in being kind to myself too - even when I somehow confused Essence and Form (yikes).
I came up with an amount.
Meanwhile, I still needed a car.
Not a pretty car, not a cute car.
I needed a comfortable, capable and affordable car.
Kind of what my son had suggested.
I was learning.
I Declared my Essences and asked to be guided.
I saw A LOT of cars. I spoke with a lot of people. My car-Spanish is now pretty darn excellent. Much better than my clothing-Spanish. I can talk about spark plugs, mufflers, and catalytic converters without blinking.
One day, on a walk, I passed a big tall sort of car and my friend pointed out the sticker on the back window. It was almost the same as the Center's. It was the Essence of the Center. It felt weird. It felt important, and I had my photo taken next to it. A coinkidinky.
I saw more cars. And got tired of talking about cars. I just wanted to be done. But I also was feeling humbled enough to allow my local friend's opinion to matter.
Then one morning, he sent me a photo of a paint-chipped green beast of a car and said to me: this is a really good car and I think you can get it for a lot less than what is being asked.
It looked familiar. I asked if maybe we hadn't looked at it before.
Of course, it was the exact same car as the Center's logo Essence car.
A few days later I bought it and it has been so, so, so awesome. An American exported 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor, it is the most comfortable car I have ever driven, it is tall, it is spacious, it has a sunroof and Lila rides the huge leather back seat like the queen that she is. AND she can put her head out of the window anytime she wants. AND we can probably carry a baby cow in the back, should the need arise. It is the perfect beach mobile, river mobile, and exploration mobile. I'll gladly deal with the gas consumption. I named her Mitsu, which my Japanese friend tells me happens to mean "honey."
Ok, so back to Margarita (excuse the story's zigzags, here. Just pretend we're driving down a Mexican jungle road).
I put an ad on FB. I started to respond to inquiries. I really wanted the person who bought her to be excited about Margarita.
Last Tuesday, as I was sitting at home writing, I heard the telltale MOOOOO of the family who delivers the-tastiest-cream-I-have-ever-tasted.
I had met them the week after I arrived as I was making soup. Just as I was thinking that I needed to go to the tienda and get some cream, I had heard the sound of a cow outside my door. Thinking maybe I was losing my mind, I peeked outside and saw a white truck with a megaphone on top of it - mooooing loudly. A beautiful woman with a couple of kids in the front seat and a smiling man behind the wheel was selling all kinds of fresh cheeses, yogurt, and ... cream. I exchanged 35 pesos for a bag of cream and was immediately surprised by its weight and thickness. Had they added some kind of gum to thicken it? What was the deal, here?
No better way to answer the question than to pick up a spoon.
Hear me out: born and raised in France, I am a pastry and a dairy snob. I don't drink wine nor coffee, so this limits the scope of my snobbism. But bad pastries and bad dairy products deeply irk me.
Spoon in mouth, I was tasting the best cream of my life.
Velvety, someone had stopped churning just before it turned to butter. It made my knees weak. Right there on a dusty Mexican road, out of the back of a truck, I was tasting cream perfection.
In other words: dangerous stuff.
So when I heard the Moooooo again last week, I had a second of hesitation and almost did not go outside.
But I did. And I bought a bag of cream. Of course.
Rosa - that's the name of the mom - told me that she had called out for me the previous Tuesday as they were in front of my house but had not seen me even though the Bug was upfront.
I let her know not to count on the Bug being upfront much longer because I was about to sell it.
Her eyes brightened. She turned to her husband and told him that the "Vocho" was for sale. He got a huge smile. I may or may not have seen Margarita wink at them (not at me, she still does not like me, Oh the ungrateful one). They told me that they would love to buy it for their son. Who happens to be 11. How much did I want for it?
Suddenly, seeing their smiles, I decided that I might be willing to pay a higher tuition for My Lesson. Also, that I could take payments for the Bug. And maybe cream.
Her husband, Diego, immediately asked me what kind of weekly payments he could make. We came up with an amount that would not stress them out. Stretched over however many weeks it would take for them to pay off the car and me to pay off The Lesson (which was gaining value by the minute).
I suggested they think about it and get back to me. I gave them my phone number.
That night, several people contacted me about Margarita, and the next morning, there was some loose talk about someone coming to look at her.
I did not have Rosa and Diego's number and was wondering what to do.
I wanted to let her go to her new home, but I did not like the idea of disappointing them. And it was possible that they would not come back till next Tuesday.
No one having made firm plans to come by yet, I settled to some writing on my patio, and around 3 pm I heard someone call my name outside the gate.
It was Rosa and her family. They had come to bring Margarita home!
Rose explained that they had tried to call me but weren't able to get through, so they had driven one hour to the village and man were they smiling big!
It seemed that maybe a test drive would make sense so Diego and his son took Margarita for a drive while Rosa, her baby, and I stood in the street, talking.
And this is when the magic happened.
This is when it all made sense the way I knew it would eventually all make sense. Outside of dollars or pesos.
Rosa told me her story, the story of the way she and her family grew their cream and cheese and all kinds of goodness delivery business.
They started six years ago.
Without a car. With kids. With buckets.
They would get on the bus early in the morning, go pick up their products from the various farms and then spend the day delivering them. Bus after bus, until it was all sold. They would often get home around 10 pm, with empty buckets and sleepy kids on their shoulders. And then, she added: it was time to clean the house, cook, and do laundry!
It was a while before they bought a car. Now they had two. Well... three.
Two things about this:
I knew I would not be able to convey to her how our paths converged.
And I also knew that it did not matter.
Diego and his son came back from their ride and we shook hands on the deal:
For the next many weeks, every Tuesday, Rosa and Diego will stop by my house give me a little bit of money and a little bit of cheese. Or cream. Which I will be sure to give to some of my friends so as not to grow in proportion to the size of our new car.
Before they drove her away, I told them that I wanted to say goodbye to Margarita
I opened the door and I silently gave her my wishes. She may have looked the other way.
And then, just like that, they drove her away, and a page turned on this challenging, odd and perfect chapter.