Beginning, Again

My first entry. I feel nervous and excited, like the first day of school.


When I was in high school, sometimes I had a difficult time diving into my homework because I had all these other sensations swirling inside of me in the realm of art and emotion. So what I would do was write a spontaneous non edited poem, which helped me arrive. 


Here goes:


The anticipation of

a new cycle. A full circle of days.

A whole blue moon glowing itself

at daytime.

I like speed, but not falling.

I like contact, but still moving.

I was told I am like a shark.

the biological need to move,

to grow

to create

to devour

to cycle.


What is feminine?

the reciprocal voice of love warming my ears

the need to make a place

and be that place.

To be seen.


What is masculine?

the voice making its mark, 

the etching of new patterns.

The structure of seeing and understanding.


Arriving, I become closer to the space in between.


And now, looking back:

This is a poem I wrote a long time ago:


September (before 2001)


Behold the clear sky and the heather gray outfits.

Behold the sharp pencils, the leather boots,

the moonbeam memories;

suede-like, slow.

The sad-eyed walkers, the school-feet,

the heavy back packs, heavy hearts

heavy beds and bed-wetters.


Would women want to be pregnant?

Oh yes, I think.

What is better than a new one in May?

(little toes poking)

(little buds peeking)

But the roundness won’t start for a while.

For now it is lovers’ quarrels and heat therapy.

“Be patient, little one.

I still have a career to caress.”


And September drives my deepest function,

I receive a present of the present.

I turn from August laziness towards inside.

I turn to face moment things like:

orange leaves, dancing trees and anti-freeze.


That poem is about a different September. An East Cost September. About where I am from. It’s about the start of the fall, my favorite season. A time that evokes deep emotions and nostalgia. Now I am in Southern Baja, and it’s a different story I am telling. We live in a tropical desert. A contradiction that is very real. There are both cactus and palm trees. It is hurricane season. We are dead in the middle of a very hot, humid summer. And even though it is easy to complain about the heat and the bugs and creatures, there is also a sensual pleasure in this season. First of all, there’s the rain. I love rain. It has a way of connecting everything, of adding a cosines and drama and beauty to everything. And then the light after the rain is fun to photograph. And then there’s the explosion of green. I love green. It always amazes me--the irrepressibleness of plants. Add a little water, and the desert becomes bright green.

The Pacific Ocean is always near, the waves are long, low and warm. Not good for surfers, but good for me who doesn’t like to fall. 


This time of year also brings back vivid memories of the first and the last summer we spent in Baja. It was three years ago. The summer of Hurricane Jimena. It was also the summer our son, Emilio was born.


It was the year we moved to Mexico, we drove down from Northern California 3 days after I discovered I was pregnant (not an accident, but it came much sooner than anticipated). We had spent much of the year camping on our piece of land, (to watch video about our camping experience, click here: camp video) and then decided to find a house to take care of (we didn’t have any money for rent) for the last month of pregnancy and the first months of parenthood. A woman I met in a café overheard me talking about camping (while I was obviously pregnant) and offered to let us stay in her guest casita in exchange for some basic care taking. We moved in a few months later, while I was about seven months pregnant. The house was a little rough around the edges, but it was artsy, and we liked it. I was overjoyed to be living in a place with real walls, refrigeration, and electric lights. We spent the first day or so having fun turing on and off the lights as if we were toddlers. The main drawback was the roof was made of translucent plastic. We had to wear sunglasses inside, it was like living in a greenhouse. Being pregnant, my body temperature was also about 5 degrees hotter than usual. We suffered through it, and I found particular relief in air-conditioned car rides to the American style ice cream store to get cone of mint chip. This became a daily ritual. Our other form of relief came from an unlimited amount of agua mineral (seltzer). It was a luxury that we allowed ourself. Once Emilio came via a cesarean section on August 10, 2009 in La Paz hospital, there was a great and brief feeling of relief and happiness. But sooner after, things became even more difficult. I was recovering from surgery, and the pain medication I was given was causing so much anxiety that as soon as I fell asleep my body would jolt me back into wakefulness. I had to watch old episodes of The Office incessantly in order to get my mind off of it. Additionally, my body was exploding with hormones from nursing. I had read that if nursing hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Nursing hurt like hell. I wavered between being anxious that I wasn’t nursing correctly and being irrationally terrified that one of us would die at any moment. No one had prepared me for this intensity of feeling, pain or hunger. I have always been a person with a big appetite, during pregnancy it increased, but while I was nursing I was incapable of feeling full. I was like a teenage boy with the munchies. During and after the birth, we had a few week’s help from both of our mothers that was very welcome and comforting, but soon after they left, Hurricane Jimena came. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to friends and family afterwards:


So the hurricane hit us pretty hard. At around 9 PM, we were all prepared, with lots of 

drinking water stored up, cans of beans, our valuables stored in a 

plastic box, our lantern charged, and we were sitting down to watch a 

movie as the rain hit our roof hard and the wind blew dramatically. I 

turned to Lucas, who had said the biggest risk to us was that our roof 

would blow off, "do you really think our roof will blow off?" And he 

said, "probably not." And then... a very big gust of wind, and a 

booming noise, and sure enough, our roof started to blow off! It was 

pretty scary at first, because we thought maybe the whole thing would 

come off. But just a section of it did, right near where we were 

sitting. So we moved all of our stuff into the bedroom, and our 

valuables into the bathroom (which is the only room in the casita that 

has a concrete, not plastic roof.) Our plan was if the whole roof was 

to blow off, we'd go into the bathroom for immediate protection, and 

then move ourselves into the main house, which is unoccupied, and has a 

concrete roof. Fortunately, Emilio, being his very calm and sleepy self, 

didn't even wake up for all the dramatic noise. But, poor Ping, was 

very scared, and wouldn't go more than a few inches away from 

us--needing lots of reassurance. I, myself, was pretty stressed, but 

after a few hours of the loud banging of the piece of roof, the loud 

rain hitting our roof, the electricity was surging and our fans and 

light bulbs were pulsing into overdrive, and the wind blowing only 

outside, we started to be more assured that we were safe. It was a 

sleepless, scary night.


The next morning, the hurricane had passed. The windows had not broken, 

the hole in the roof was a bit bigger, but it was not huge. We feared 

the motor of our electric fans had died, but thankfully they worked the 

next day! We lost water, but only for a few hours. Our fridge was still 

on too!  A large tree on the property had been knocked down and was 

blocking the road. Lucas cut it up yesterday with his chainsaw, to 

remove the blockage. The house is now a mess, filled with bugs, and has 

become just too hot to be bearable. Fortunately, the owner of the 

house, took pity on us and offered to let us sleep in the main house 

which is much cooler. We slept there last night, and it was much more 

comfortable. Even Emilio took a morning nap until 10 AM (which he 

almost never does), so we got some more sleep--because the sun was not 

directly on all of us the way it is in the smaller house.


After Jimena, the electricity continued to surge all day long, into periods of too-high, and then too-low. Too-high meant super bright, buzzing lights, too-low meant the fan working at such a minimum as to not feel its breeze at all. When the too-low periods happened at night, the heat would wake me up (in between nursing sessions which for some reason I took intricate notes on) and I would take my seventh shower of the night, until the fan started working again. There were days when we had no water and once we actually trucked our own water from the pump station near our land to fill the tank. 


You might wonder, why didn’t we just leave? Well, the worst part of it was, we couldn’t. In order to leave Mexico and enter the US, we had to get Emilio’s paperwork in order. We had to apply for his US Citizenship and his passport. It meant several trips to both Cabo and La Paz a week. After about two months, we had it all together, and we were finally able to find relief from family and friends in the US.


It is easy to complain, but what I would rather do is learn from this experience. First of all, I use remembering that summer as a meter to measure my current discomfort. Also I have come to believe it’s important to experience doing without, not as a punishment, but as just an other experience. It allows me to appreciate the disappeared when it returns to our life. What’s great about summer is that it makes me appreciate winter.   So far, nothing I’ve experienced since has been as difficult as that summer. Motherhood is now (mostly) an utter joy and a consistent source of inspiration and growth. And now we live in our own house that we built on our land. I continue to struggle, just as I always have, but the struggle becomes more meaningful, more reflective of what I really care about. It’s starting to add up. I know there will be other hardships, and life has many challenges and strife yet to offer. However, I also believe, in the larger sense, of our life here, that we are learning what we can and cannot live with out. We are blessed to be in this position, even if we have made sacrifices. We are explorers, pioneers. We are risking our comfort to carve out something for ourselves. We don’t always have a plan, but we always have a dream. That dream is to live an open, independent, conscious and creative life. We are making up the rules as we go. We are giving up a little first world practically for the sake of an enchanted life.


Thank you for reading.

POEMZoë DearbornBajaComment