I AM. Mirrored
Three hours later, the plane lands safely in Oaxaca.
I disembark; down the stairs, walking the tarmac to baggage claim.
El sol: bright, greeted me with much needed warmth.
Needing to find a place to stay before my next leg to Puerto Escondido, I stand in line for a taxi to Oaxaca-Centro. I pay, am given my ticket and directed to the colectivo driver.
Greeting my fellow passengers, I meet Miriam. A nice woman who takes the empty seat next to me.
After a brief introduction, I discover she and I were on similar travel paths; she too is a single mom (of young adults), and had traveled to Mexico from Canada on an open ended trip.
Yes, this trip was a leg on her personal (re)discovery journey.
Each of us not having long range plans, we chatted further about our next few immediate stops.
Seemingly sensible and on the same wavelength, I commented needing to find accommodations, in the event I stayed the night before heading to the coast.
I was able to chat with a nice woman during a failed search on Couchsurfing, who wasn’t able to host, but did give me the name of a reputable place to check upon arrival.
My seat mate, offered that she had booked a hostel on the grounds of its good reviews.
Being spontaneous, I ask to come along and have a look. She agreed.
We reach the hostel.
She checks in and I inquire about availability.
As Miriam is taken to her room, I take the tour, checking the place and listening as she goes on with her critique of it.
Having never stayed in a hostel, I possessed no way of measuring this specific place. It seemed nice: the rooms, beds and general facilities were okay, and more importantly, clean.
We complete the walk through.
Miriam, finishing her check in.
Having noticed a slight accent, I casually asked her origin.
With a sharp whip of her head, looking at me intently, she quipped: Canada!
Being one interested in all things people and culture, and she, a woman of color with an accent that is obviously not North American, I gently pressed: No, I’m asking you family origin?
Sensing a change in her energy, I retreated.
Speaking with the receptionist, I inquire about the best way to get to Puerto Escondido.
I’m informed of the colectivo that departs hourly. I opt to book the 10pm trip.
Anytime I’m able to book overnight travel, I do. This strategy eliminates having to pay for accommodations for the night and allows me to rest a bit and have energy to seize the day when arriving in a new place. This is, of course, after getting settled where I’m staying a freshened a bit.
Miriam, wanting to get out and see Oaxaca, we get directions of happenings in the immediate area.
We have a nice stroll through the quaint streets. It’s at this point I’m overcome with pure joy.
I voice: “It’s warm! I am so happy. I can’t believe this and am incredibly thankful this very moment.”
Miriam looking a bit perplexed at my over-the-top pronouncement and not quite understanding my elation over this simple thing. I give the condensed version of my travels and experience leading to that point.
She shared a bit of the internal conflict she was grappling.
Apparently, her family is quite conventional, and wouldn’t dare set off on such travels; aimlessly roaming and staying in hostels (of all places). Her tone conveying her need to distinguish herself; letting it known that she was of some ‘status’. A highly credentialed woman, coming from family of relatively well-to-do means.
Walking and listening, I carried on in a state of gratitude.
[Not giving one damn], I’m always perplexed by this need to wear one’s status or share it unnecessarily. To me, it always gives the impression of some deep seated insecurity.
As I type this, I imagine the ‘nothingness I am’ or ‘no one important that can further other’s respective objectives’, I likely project. I am relatively understated in most ways, and not one for posturing.
Yeah, it’s true and by design. At a glance, I have nothing for others to use.
The city was beautiful.
The Zócalo buzzing: Lovers kisseing, children playing, restaurant patrons eating, street vendors selling their wares and senior couples dancing to a big band playing what seemed to be tradition songs.
This was the expression of community I’d like being a member of.
Miriam equally as curious as I, and wanting to practice Spanish, darted from vendor to vendor, hotel to hotel, asking about prices and more.
Noticing her demanding energy, I recognized she was a woman who held a lot of responsibility in her life.
Unfortunately, I’m quite intimate with this energy. I live it well.
At one point, citing I might be able to help, she suggested I assist her in meeting a black man … to date.
A single woman myself, I laughed (with, not at her).
She wasn’t laughing.
Given that she and I met while traveling, I pointed her to some online travel groups I know many Black women and men converge. Coupling is an interest for some, and meeting those with the shared interest of travel, is, well, winning. Right?
That response appeared to not meet her need; there was no follow up.
We press on, making our way through the crowds to a restaurant on her list of recommended places.
Theaux served a nice mojito, the food was a prelude to an overall non-wowing gastronomic experience.
We sat, conversing long time about several things, but namely about her wanting to be more ‘like me’: a single woman living without the pressing desire to have a man of significance in my life.
Miriam, divorced of many years and still in the grip of mourning her former union to a German that had left her for another woman. She spoke of this as an ego shattering event. Her hurt showed in her continuous criticism of all things that didn’t meet her standard. There were lots of things.
At one point, she listed the attributes she wanted in a man.
I reflected: You’re basically looking for your male twin.
Struck by this statement, she sat winded and pondering.
I felt okay with sharing this assessment, because I could hear me in some of her words; could see me in some of her actions. I heard the woman, who has become a bit bristly from multiple years of holding the reigns and navigating a demanding life. I heard the need to be cared for; to be able to be soft. I heard the repelling effect of being an assertive woman. I heard it so clearly because, sadly, I speak this language … fluently.
For years, I’ve spent a lot of time without an adult male counterpart. For years, I’ve been very comfortable with that. All this hearing makes me think of herstory, my backstory, and how I arrived here.
Due to this blog being a journey of self (re)discovery, I am obliged to unpack and face the strengths that handicaps me. But, dissecting my herstory and sharing it here will come at another time.
My quick and dirty summation is that Women are powerful. We are. We are strong. We are also fragile. We are all encompassing. Some of these and other attributes have adverse effects in some of our lives. And thus, there is no shortage of woman sharing stories of loneliness and want; to be fully desired and honored by their counter-part in the adult male form.
Scores of single women who yea-r-r-r-r-n for a mutually fulfilling and meaningful engagement, within the confines of a committed relationship, with a man they lust for and can give their full whole selves too. Yet, they find themselves single, or falling prey to low self-worth and needlessly reduced to sharing men in a many of cases.
I reside on the exact opposite of this spectrum.
However, for some, it’s falsely believed to be a way to satiate their craving.
My perspective is that reducing yourself to sharing someone else’s partner is harmful, and can be when all involved know and are consenting.
I’m so far left, I’ve all but tuned out on having a significant relationship with a man that goes beyond being platonic.
It’s a strange reality. I am often concerned for myself … lol.
As one who leans towards being balanced, I attempt to ward off becoming completely detached from the notion of ever being involved romantically again.
Often times, I’m mostly thinking of the next country I’ll see. My yearning is of locating the place that soothes my soul, by whispering ‘this is home’.
I regularly check in with myself, asking questions to see where I am at a given point. I inevitably arrive at the place of feeling a bit fearful that ‘completely detached’ is the place I’ll eventually be.
I hope not.
Dinner and drinks were done. We continued, chatting about life’s desires and struggles, at which point she spoke about a minor health. This was a great time to leave her with a tiny gift.
I had never used one before. Still haven’t … lol. Wishing I had, but thankful I had it to give.
I bought this ‘just in case I ever find myself in a position of needing something like this’ thingy, and added it to my travel toolkit.
Hoping it would be beneficial, I gave her my new FUD (female urination device) to Miriam.
It proved to be a great way to end the evening, laughing heartily, before my grueling ten-hour nauseating ride on every winding road to PE.