Sunday, May 2, 2021

Soaking by the Blanco

A f
ew years ago, looking for a nature scape from cement, noise and highway dense Houston, I found the small town of Wimberley, a little nature haven tucked three hours and fifteen minutes away from home in the heart of the Hill Country, Texas. It was love at first sight, no doubt. Though my preference is to search for unexplored places (the world is too vast and too beautiful to be so narrow minded) I constantly feel this strong pull towards its country beauty with herds of deer roaming on the roads at dusk, foxes foxing their way through the woods, deep refreshing swimming holes in all shades of turquoise and the clear, translucent waters of the Blanco river embraced by rows of dramatic limestone cliffs. I keep returning, even if at times billboards of divisive political content on the outskirts of town tend to muddle the serene wonder of the natural surroundings. But isn’t this the thing about love, that we embrace all parts of the subject of one’s desire? I have embraced Wimberley and fantasize constantly, like an infatuated adolescent, that one day I’ll have my own cabin by these waters.

While that remains a vision in my mind’s eye, I’ve been renting AirBnBs when I need a quick nature and soul reset, a pick me up from the noise of the urban life I chose to live. And yes, there has been an incredible amount of noise in these past couple of weeks: 16-hour workdays, sleepless nights, the duality of having to be always on point when the mind is foggy due to sleep deprivation, no physical exercise and a poor diet of too much salt, fat and sugar. Interestingly enough, this is far from a complaint. Part of me was actually enjoying the chaos, the little volcanos here and there spilling sweet joy over hot challenges as I kept learning from the best how to be my best, every eruption an opportunity to hone my voice, my craft, my spirit. I’ve had professional burnouts in the past, but this felt differently: my body was indeed tired, but my soul was finding pleasure in the trade. Truth is, I haven't had this much fun in the corporate world in quite some time. In parallel, the looming reality that I may lose my job in the next few months as my workplace is going through a major reorganization and there are no guarantees. I tucked this possibility in the same corner of my brain where I tuck fear, but that corner is vulnerable, filled with cracks, incompetent at insulating the anxious voices from rushing to my ears. The timing of this current reset by the river couldn’t be more precise, though as the weekend approached I considered canceling my reservation, blaming it on work that needed to get done, the rainy forecast, the absence of wi-fi at the cabin and the fact that my husband bailed out on this weekend getaway to prepare for a business trip (the world is finally coming back online after the virus brought havoc to the world). 

I could run a side business fabricating excuses, but I chose the road, for the road never failed me. For the third consecutive time in a period of 8 months, I came to Wimberley alone, but never lonely. Google Maps put me on a new route and I welcomed the change. I drove through farm roads speckled with yellow and orange wildflowers like a living watercolor painting, roadside creeks and small towns framed by the luscious shades of Texas spring green. It rained the entire journey, though mostly mild showers with occasional punctures of blue skies. I sang cheesy 80s songs from the depth of my lungs. When I arrived at my cabin halfway through twilight, the firmament cracked a monumental faucet over my head. I unloaded my luggage, soaked but content. Let it rain. Good things grow in dampness, like life itself, for lust is wet, never dry. I opened a bottle of still rosé, poured me a glass and crossed the yard towards a covered canopy by the Blanco. He was there, whispering to me, “welcome back, dear, I look meek and narrow these days, but as you now know, this is just an episode, not the whole story. My true nature is wide, wild, wondrous.” I realized that the relentless rain couldn’t be more welcoming. The earth was parched and the Blanco needed a celestial lift.

I prepped grocery store bought crab cakes for dinner,  Buccee’s dark chocolate covered pecans for dessert and binged watched carefully downloaded episodes of Bridgerton (shameless, brazen pleasures). I slept through the sounds of the soft rain caressing the earth and woke up to the frolicking chirping of birds while the storm was taking a nap. There was no highway noise, no city buzz. Just the country and the peace within its rolling hills. I brewed coffee and stepped outside towards the Blanco, noticing that I was the only human in miles. On the opposite river bank two egrets hunted their breakfast, their white plumage beaming in the soft morning glow, a gift of peace out of Noah’s Ark. I found an expansive limestone rock to anchor my hips and as I sat down the sun carved its way through the dense blanket of clouds to greet us all. It was just nature and me now, the bubbly Blanco flowing rapidly as a perfect metaphor for all the noises in my head: muddy at dusk, clear and dazzling at dawn. 

It was pouring again as I started writing these free flowing observations in a wet outdoor beer garden in the heart of downtown, my hair messy from the humidity. The rain was torrential, beautiful, loud and inviting, so though I tried to keep the water away I also allowed it to fondle my clothes and even lick the screen of my computer. A masked waitress walked towards me and gave me a hug as if she’d known me for years. She immediately apologized for mistaking me for someone else as half of my face was also hidden under a mask. I laughed, knowing that I mischievously took full advantage of her confusion. After a year in semi-isolation, my now fully vaccinated body feels more confident to share the same space with other human beings. We’ve all been parched of so many forms of affection since early 2020. My batteries are again recharged after a good night’s sleep, the roadside deer that welcomed me into town, the lavishing rain, even the unsolicited hug of a complete stranger. On the glorious Sunday morning that I leave these hills knowing in my heart that I will return, the Blanco has regained its strength in the patch of land in front of me. May my mind in the week ahead be crystalline, evolving and free like the Blanco. Nature is always a prayer. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

High on blue skies

Saturday morning and outside my window the winter storm left imprints of destruction accumulated in frost-bitten lawns, broken pipes and anxious hearts. On this side of the blinds, a chemical reaction: the icicles in my spine had melted into an immaculate ebullience of joy and freedom. Listen, listen, the gut is speaking, the blood swimming in fleshy caves of wonder: you are high on life! Get out of the house now, child, and overdose your ears with poetry, your feet with movement, your eyes with blue sky. I knew why: just the day before I had fed my soul with a velvety protein called confidence. I published a blog post about my unconventional trip to a previous life and chose not to care if the world thought my fuses were loose. Let ‘em learn from your vulnerable craters!, said the fairy in my aorta. Let ‘em poison in their own venomous fangs of judgement!, said the raven in my bile. I put on my walking shoes, a bright magenta sweatshirt, a mouth full of smile and off I went, Emicida gracing my ears with contagious tropical hip hop that sounded both angry and lustful. 

If the gorgeous yet heavy lyrics dissecting the inequalities of my beloved Brazil didn’t exactly match my privileged upbringing or my exact state of mind, their passion and political activism filled my cup with hope and poetry, the fast beat synchronized with my heartbeat. I strolled the streets of West U in flow, floating, beaming, a jolt of endorphine per step in a world that felt sensual again, fertile even under skeletal, leafless tree branches, as if in the process of melting, the snow had inseminated my soul with an explicit desire to marvel. Texas still coming back online but my spirit was operating at high voltage, my energy grid publicly undressed, and oh, it was a beautiful thing to feel and oh, I knew the world could see it! I saw drivers looking at me, smiling at me -- one car, two cars, three cars, beeeep, traffic voyeurs -- my happiness moving in invisible waves (a wish: soak them all with vibrancy!).  

I wanted to encapsulate that moment as I knew it was ephemeral even for someone who feels content and cheerful most of the time, though often barbarically inquisitive. The expiration date could be just minutes away because nothing is constant, we all have in us the moon that rises and blooms, the sun that shines from yellow to red, the rain that caresses and pours, the wind that whispers and destroys. My high eventually washed off, but I never crashed. Triggered by somebody else’s judgement, I questioned my decision to publish my spiritual journey. Insecurity itched for a moment, but more like a small pack of fleas and I had prophylactic measures in place: days later, during a short guided meditation I was asked to think of a moment of joy. In the depths of my brain I found a closet full of jars, one of them with magenta pills overflowing with radiant blue skies. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Past life regression: what I learned from my previous death

The author in an alley in Pienza, Italy, December 2018

The polar vortex had swallowed the city. A thin blanket of snow folded over Houston, another abnormality in the oddity of the current times. Day three of on and off electricity, water shortages, the chilling of bones and the cloak of the COVID-19 plague still omnipresent. I found warmth in the crevices: the soft, luxurious fur of my cat oblivious to everything, green chili soup leftovers, Internet humor. Then another opening, this time in my chest: I was ready for a past life regression session. After months exploring the subject as a path to self-knowledge, I chose a sub-freezing afternoon to descend into a spiritual ladder that took me to the underworld of long lost memories.