Friday, August 3, 2018

Another border; another new beginning

Writing from Praga Cafe, Tijuana, Mexico

My life isn’t all travel, but reading this blog, it can be hard to get the bigger picture. When I created this platform, I never intended it to be a public diary, but every now and then I feel like a reality check is needed.

The last time I posted something on everyday life, I was transitioning back to life in the United States after one year in Japan and six months in SE Asia. Since then I worked a full-time job for three years, and on my days off I made it to Maine, Greece, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Japan, and New Orleans. Now I am writing again at another turning point.

In October of 2017 I decided I was fed up with the life I was living and needed a change, but what change....I didn’t yet know. These feelings coincided with a business trip to San Diego for a conference, and a weekend jaunt across the border to Tijuana to see an old writer friend of mine. I suppose I thought I would do some thinking there, but I didn’t realize then how profound a change that trip would inspire. I wrote in my diary:
“I crossed the border on foot into Tijuana at 2:15pm on a scorching hot day in October. I carried a heavy duffle bag in each hand and a laptop strapped to my back. The sun felt hotter almost as soon as I got to the other side. It was not the only border I crossed that day. It was not the only luggage I carried. My heavier baggage contained 30 years of history, a complex amalgamation of identities.
I crossed many borders that day, borders with no clear lines and no maps. The border between mother and not mother. The border between my 20s and 30s. The border between careers and identities. And all through these crossings, I had to ask myself at each check point, 'Am I home? Who am I here? A tourist, a local, an expat, a guest?' ”


Selfie at the border crossing, San Ysidro, CA

I spent one wild weekend in Tijuana doing everything I ever imagined wanting to do in that city. When Monday came, I sauntered back across the border on foot, almost crying at the sight of an outlet mall on the U.S. side, the cathedral of vapid capitalism. I wanted so much to turn back. I wanted to stay in Tijuana forever. But instead I caught a Lyft and rode up to the San Diego airport to board a plane to Portland. 

As soon as I returned, I began plotting my trip back. I couldn’t make it work November or December, but I managed to plan another escape to Tijuana in January. It was even better the second time. Familiar streets and faces. And I knew life could never be the same. I could not return to my life in Portland and keep everything the same. It must change. I wrote in my diary: 


“I feel like I am about to walk through a door, and when it closes behind me I will lose access to everything I once knew.What will I need to relinquish? What can I keep? Once I am on the other side….”

Tijuana was not the answer. 
I was not meant to move there forever and start life over as a bartender. 
Tijuana was the neutral ground that facilitated the change. 
Tijuana made change possible.

William Bridges writes about this in his book Transitions, in which he explains the importance of a neutral ground:


“In other times and places, the person in transition left the village and went into an unfamiliar stretch of forest or desert. There the person would remain for a time, removed from the old connections, bereft of the old identities, and stripped of the old reality. This was a time 'between dreams' in which fundamental chaos of the world's beginnings welled up and obliterated all forms. It was a place without a name – an empty space in the world and in the lifetime where a new sense of self could gestate” (Bridges, 133).

Tijuana was the catalyst for my transition, and when I left the city for a second time, I resigned from my job, registered my company with the government, and set up creating a new business and new life for myself as an entrepreneur.

Four months later, I wanted to return to Tijuana for a third time, having manifested my reality as a business-owner, but life brought more change and surprise. Now I'm five months pregnant and await the arrival of the newest member of our family, and only after that will I return to the city that inspired so any big leaps. 

Until then….I will write about it.

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