Last night was a good one. Not a huge huge one, but we definitely felt it.
After days with no rain and lots of calm weather, Lila and I were sitting at the beach at sunset watching the surfers on their boards when an enormous gust of wind blew our way. What seemed like a million grains of sand swirled around us while I noticed the sky turning a dark shade of gray.
"The weather has something to say," I thought.
Then a drop of warm water, nice and fat. Then another.
I decided to skip the pizza and head home.
Lila and I hopped on the quad and made our way out of the village and towards the countryside. She ran part of the way, ahead of the bike as we both got wet. It felt so good, so free and alive.
Back home, the sky was getting really dark and the wind was picking up fast. It was happening.
I moved whatever was on the patio, closed our big doors and windows, gave Lila three heart-shaped CBD tablets, wished I had some for me and got ready. Tiji (the only Mexican-born of the family) was calmly stretched out outside, enjoying all of it. It took a bit for me to convince her that the bed would make a better vantage point. She took her sweet time walking in.
By then the thunder was thundering, and the sky was lighting up bright silvery white. The banana trees were fully engaged in the wind's invitation to dance, and there was very little holding back. Water, wind, crackling thunder, and us.
It went on for a while and in the midst of it, my solar panels blew a fuse. No more fans cooling the air, and because it was the first time, I did not know how to fix it. Now I do.
But we were okay. I talked nicely to myself and spent several hours on the phone with someone I love.
By early morning I went to sleep and did not emerge till about 11, which felt decadent and delicious.
We had made it through another one and I stepped outside full of gratitude and awe.
And right there, outside my door, was paradise.
Overnight, the greens had gotten brighter, the air was fresh, and the cows were mooing and eating, and BEING. A warm passion fruit had fallen to the ground, luring me into breakfast.
The thing that jolted me was how the energy was fully peaceful and there was zero leftover story about What Happened Last Night.
I have experienced this several times before, following a hurricane. The uncanny sense of peace.
But this was different. It felt like an invitation to learn something. A lesson.
A lesson in Presence, in Purity. In letting go. In Authenticity, too.
While Nature was being big, huge, loud, and disruptive, there was no excuse being extended. No holding back, no questioning how it compared to a blow-up of the past nor how it might look tomorrow. Pure energy. Presence.
The day after, there was no apology, no story, no hanging on. The cows were not talking to themselves about it, the banana trees were swaying their now dry leaves into the warm calm wind, there was nothing but peace. Presence.
I am sitting with this. Listening to the places inside of me that are thirsty for a human-level version of it. I am being. Open to the Gift of a possible up-leveling.
And because I am human and more complicated than a banana tree, I am going to pick up my broom and sweep the couple of light bulbs that got rattled onto my patio floor.
Then I will cut this glorious warm passion fruit in half and give thanks for living here.
For living, really.
Warning: if you are body-stuff sensitive, you may want to skip this and read next week's post. I'll try to write about something nice and easy.
Settling into the very, very comfortable bus (think first-class airplane seats), I casually opened the medium-sized plastic bag that housed the very, very nice headphones.
Six hours later, my companion would tell me that he thought I was preparing to watch a movie at some point during the trip.
As a kid, I pretty much always got car sick. I remember my grandmother skipping any taxi with a soft suspension like the famous Citroen DS because my stomach just could not take it. School field trips, when I absolutely had to attend, gave me anxiety days before departure.
Nausea is its own form of nightmare for me and I have never made peace with its shenanigans.
In fact, the moment a whisper of nausea comes my way, most likely clearly announcing that there WILL be an episode of throwing up in my near future, I become a full-on Statue of No.
I freeze, I refuse.
I refuse my body's message, its request. I refuse to go through the (to me) counterintuitive trip backward of whatever I may have ingested. I try and distract myself, I whimper, I plead.
Of course, because the body is so wise and unlike the mind does not waste time with toxic invasion, it always wins. That's when I find myself moaning, snotting, possibly losing control of my bladder while I ungracefully surrender to the dreaded reverse flow.
Afterward, almost immediately feeling so much better, I relive the event. Its horribleness. I moan for a good while longer, I talk about how awful it was, how glad I am that it is over, and again how bad bad bad it was.
The whole thing can take hours and I am guessing is no fun for someone to accompany me.
So, the bus.
5-6 hours of traveling coming my way, I know the road and I know its curves. While it has never gotten me before, something about the quesadilla I just misguidedly chose to eat tells me that yes, opening the little bag is a judicious idea.
Off we go. Out of the jungle and into the hills of agave fields. I decide to try and sleep through the curves and mostly succeed. When I open my eyes, I take in the beauty that always puts me in a state of awe. So many greens, so much land.
I love this country.
The window is huge, the AC is working well and I know how lucky I am to be traveling. On the other end of the trip is the city and it always thrills me to visit it.
Also, I know that something has started inside my body. It's not very loud, not demanding. Just making itself known. A gray-blue color of quiet dis-settle that takes very little room but makes no promise of leaving.
I breathe. I inhale my mentholated stick. I breathe again. I don't talk.
And then we get to the outer area of the city. Not the part with the cathedrals and the street vendors and the hundred-year-old buildings and the cobblestones. Not that one. We get to the part where traffic is slow, stop-and-start, and the streets are lined with all manners of industrial supply stores.
There is so much to read, so much to see. I read, I see. And everything I read and everything I see seems to foster some thought inside my head. Some comments, some questions, some memory. It is as though while the angst in my stomach is making itself more and more known, my mind chooses to go on overload and this overload itself makes me more and more queasy.
But I cannot stop. My mind is feeling poisoned, unable to stop ingesting nauseating information. I am so full of so much and everything feels out of my control.
I am quiet. I try and "witness" all of it. In some way, I do it. I gain a little distance.
And we keep going. Slowly, bumpily.
We are about 10 minutes away from the gigantic bus station.
By now there is no denying what I have been trying to deny.
I WILL be throwing up.
Shifting from denying to preparing, I ask my companion to please hand me the six pesos I will need to get into the bathroom. God, I don't like public bathrooms. And now that I have said the word bathroom, The Beast has kicked things up a notch.
It has been acknowledged and I can feel It plump Itself up and stand up straighter, finally taking Its due place in my day.
Six pesos. The bathroom. Almost there. Breathe.
The bag. The headphone bag. Right there in front of me.
I pick it up, I turn towards the window, and with barely one little retch, I surrender into it all the acidity of my universe. Three times.
There is no moaning, no crying, and thank god no urinating.
"Except for the smell, no one could tell." I am later told. Good god.
I don't spill, I wipe my mouth each time. I am not quite lifting my pinky finger but we will later comment on how very French of me the whole thing was. Big-time good manners and my grandma would approve.
I am handed an extra bag for good measure (second set of headphones) and a few minutes later we exit the bus, me holding a small plastic bag full of something that could just as well be a serving of delicious horchata, and sweetly relieved from having to carry my own backpack.
Right there in this big comfy Mexican bus, I have met a new me. I have somehow transcended some old agreement about "how traumatic vomiting is for me." I have met a new way of letting my body do what it needs to do without getting in the way. A bunch of fear has vanished.
Now, just writing about this makes me feel slightly ill, and I can't say that I relish the next opportunity to test my new skill set. But, yes, something has shifted, something decades-old and I love when that happens. when we can feel ourselves bend and flex and grow.
Ready to board the bus alone for the trip back a few days later, I am gifted a plump lime cut in half with the loving instruction to smell it if I start to feel nauseated. I can't help but notice that it comes in a nifty little plastic bag.
A year ago, Lila, Tiji, and I were waking up in the US on the first morning of a lovely three-month stay.
We had escaped the heat, the humidity, and we would breathe in the cool PNW air while Casa Sama was getting finished.
I knew that in addition to the heat and the humidity, I was happy to have run away from The Two Things That Scare Me.
This year, I want to experience my house in the big weather, I want to paint, I want to write and so we are staying put for most of the summer. Within that decision, I am very aware that I am raising the chances of running into The Two Things That Scare Me.
Yes, there has been an uptick in bugs in the last few weeks. My house is usually wide open, we cohabitate with many of them, their sounds, their occasional little poops too.
I don't mind, for the most part.
If watching a movie at night, I notice that many many bugs converge towards the computer screen and I don't love that. But overall, it works.
But The Two Things That Scare Me scare me a lot.
Thing #1 is scorpions.
They are around, I see them regularly, sometimes lifeless (did Tiji kill it and if so, is she ok?) and sometimes alive. Just thinking about them freaks me out. I have heard of the terrible pain, I have heard of the getting-yourself-to-the-hospital-really-quickly. They scare me for me and they scare me for my girls.
Thing #2 is toads.
A particular type of toad comes out in the summer, in the rainy season. These toads, I am told, can kill a dog within minutes if they lick it. Now that SCARES me even more than Thing #1.
Both Thing#1 and Thing#2 make a good case for leaving for a few months each year. But then we would miss out on the warm ocean, the bright green jungle, the quiet village, and the fierce nature that both intimidates and invigorates me.
When I get into these moments of fear (did I check my sheets really well for Thing#1?) I hear my grandmother Lili's voice, always.: "C'est écrit, ma chérie."
It's written, my darling.
How many times as I was growing up and mentioning to her some not-quite-fully-baked plan, and its potential dangers, she would remind me that it was all already written? Many times. Many, many times. I remember the words and I remember how they made me feel safe, somehow. Like I couldn't mess up too badly.
Then there is the other story, the one that still pierces my heart and also emboldens me.
1974 in France, a few short kilometers from Paris. Dana, her name was Dana. She and her family had just left Beirut, Lebanon because Dana's dad wanted to bring them all to safety. They had moved into town and she and I had become instant friends. It was a deep friendship for two ten-year-olds. A friendship that was birthed from her telling me the first time we met - a week after they had arrived - about her little brother. Her little baby brother who had drowned in the public pool of this very safe French town, their first weekend there. The parents had wanted to give them all a Saturday of fun and what do you know? "it was written" that Dana's baby brother would not die from bombs but rather in a sky blue swimming pool, in a country that was not at war.
Dana's story lives with me. At 10, I had few words to give her. I don't think she needed many, anyway. Our friendship grew and when she returned to her beloved Beirut, she often sent me postcards. I wonder where she is now. I wonder about her dad's heart, too. Did he curse god on that terrible Saturday? Or did he know that he had done the best he could and that what was written ... was written? I will never know.
But here I am, with The Two Things That Scare Me and also Lili's voice.
So I do the best I can.
For Thing#1, I went to the hospital and asked what to do in case I got stung, given that I live away from the village. They prescribed me a pill and I have the box on top of my bathroom counter at all times. If I need to, I will pop one in and drive myself to the hospital, assuming the rivers are low enough.
For Thing #2, I went to the vet and was given three syringes: one for Tiji and two for Lila. If one of them gets too close to the infamous toads, I will find it in me to give them the appropriate shots in the appropriate body part, which I have written on the package. Then take them to the vet, again according to the rivers.
Meanwhile, we keep on living. I am careful. I check where I step, I try to remember to shake my towels. I am stern with Lila when she sniffs something I can't see.
I do the best I can and I also give myself a bit of a break from thinking that I can control, protect everything, myself, everyone.
Because you know. Swimming pools.
SCARED OF THE SACRED