TLAMATINE -(the one who knows)

After our terrible experience in Xochimilco I didn’t sleep very well, every noise felt magnified, my emotions were high and my limbs felt tight and stressed. I was determined not to let it put us off the rest of the excursions we had planned and today was our time to visit the Pyramids of Teotihuacán.

Our brush with death made us reconsider our means of transportation. We had originally planned to take the metro downtown then bus it to the city of Teotihuacan, from there you can catch a shuttle to the pyramids. This would have been the most cost affective travel option but I just could not stomach anymore complications or mishaps. I googled the cost of an Uber from Coyoacán to Teotihuacan, it would be between £25-£40 each way for the two hour journey, I was more than happy to pay that.

Our driver was native to Mexico City and he was keen to brush up on his English, his conversational skills were second to none and the advice he gave to us was invaluable. As we arrived at the Aztec site, we were surprised with how organised and well presented the attraction was, our previous encounters with Mexican heritage sites have not sailed quite as smoothly. We enjoyed reading about the history throughout Mesoamerica and the ancient philosophies of the intellectual civilisation determined, in my mind, that we had all been here and done this all before.

The UNESCO world heritage site is an awe strikingly emotional experience. The feat of engineering goes above and beyond my intellectual capability and I struggle to believe that the ruins date back to the 1st millennium AD. As we arrive we walk down the Avenue of the Dead which at around 2 miles long, leads us to the Pyramid of the Moon. Before we reach the furthest Pyramid, to our right sits the Pyramid of the Sun. The height and width of the structure is jaw-dropping, never have I witnessed anything at such magnitude before.

My mum feels nervous to climb to the top, yet Ruby and I egg her on. We take breaks at each stage, I must admit it wasn’t easy to reach the summit. The view puts things into perspective as we outline the expansive perimeter of the ancient dwelling.

The trip down is just as challenging as our way up, as mum struggles with vertigo and balance, we all make it onto solid ground safely and continue to enjoy the ancient surroundings. As the afternoon sun rises and the heat increases, we make our way to the entrance and catch an Uber home.

 

Alas a day without troubles or strive, México I might just be warming towards you.

Long live the VEF and Jando is my Aztec QUEEN

 

 

 

 

When There Is No Desire, All Things Are At Peace.

IMG_0095

We decided to give ourselves and our legs a break from our continuous walking. An Uber was the ideal mode of transport to take us further south of Mexico City to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. Our Uber driver dropped us off at the marketplace, about a 15 minute walk from the dock of the canals and we instantly felt like fish out of water. Unbeknown to us this area is a tourist trap and right now in Xochimilco there is no one that looks more like tourists than us. I stumble frantically on google maps, trying to figure out the correct direction to the docks, but it is so easy to walk around in circles here and it’s really difficult to navigate through the torn up lanes with no names. We are approached by a man on a bike, he is wearing an official badge around his neck, at first we brush off his advances to follow him then after short deliberations we decide he might be the only way we can discover this attraction.

 

He guides us to a beaten up bikecab (rickshaw) and we cautiously climb in. The bumpy ride only lasts five minutes and costs 20 pesos (70p). We are ushered on to one of the colourful hand painted trajineras and an English guide explained our trip options and outlines the costs. I had been keen to visit Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls), our guide explains we can stay here at this boating platform and visit the replica island or his college can take us to the original island, which sits on another canal a short trip away. I have never been one for imitation so I persuade the girls into getting another bikecab to the next Canal. The ride is rough and long. We complain about pot holes and the mess of our roads in Britain, but our roads are a dream compared to here. We are all hanging on for dear life, roaring with laughter and disbelief of our current situation. As our driver takes over an autobus he gets a puncture and we are quickly taken off and shuffled into another cab, this time pulled by a moped. We share the cab with a slight Mexican female and at times we have to get out and walk as the moped is incapable of pulling us over the mashed up concrete and bricks of the road.

 

Arriving at the new dock, the trajineras look old and tattered, the paint has cracked and is peeling away, there are no other tourists around. With no English guide it is up to us to negotiate and our guide is looking for 2500 pesos (£100) to see the Dolls, which is a 5 hour round trip. I quickly disagree, I had read online that it should be no more than 20 pesos per hour and anyway I only had 1500 pesos cash. I offered to pay 1000 pesos which they quickly declined. I tried to explain that was all I had unless the can swipe my credit card, after all it was a long way to travel and not get to see anything. The guide passed me his mobile with an English translator on the other end asking me to get back on the moped and go to the ATM with the guide- Absolutely not! I told him unless they except 1000 pesos for the trip then we were leaving and I asked to get off the boat. The translator confirmed no don’t worry £1000 pesos will take you to the Island of the Dolls.

 

The trip down the Xochimilco Canal was beautiful and relaxing and just what we needed to recuperate from our hectic few days. The only negative was that we were promised food and drinks vendors that sell from the banks yet we didn’t pass any at all. As we arrived at the Island of the Dolls, we paid a further 40 pesos each to enter, a cost which wasn’t outlined to us at the start. The island was nothing like I had seen before. Legend has it that a young girl drowned and died on the banks of the island and a man named Julian tried yet was unable to save her. He found a doll floating in the water, presumably the girls and tied it to a tree as a mark of respect. He visited the island everyday and placed more dolls upon the trees. It’s thought the spirit of the young girl haunts the island and the dolls have been known to wink, blink, laugh and whisper to each other.

 

We sailed without fuss back to the dock, taking in the amazing scenery and wildlife. As we reached the shore I ordered our Uber home and climbed off the boat. Our guide motioned me back onto his moped which I politely declined explaining we had a car on the way. He shook his head angrily and passed me a piece of paper with 1500 written on it. I calmly disagreed and said we would pay no more, after all the English translator had explained 1000 pesos was enough and I didn’t have anymore cash. He continued to talk frantically in Spanish, all I could understand was ATM, I explained I couldn’t withdraw funds so unless he had a card reader I physically couldn’t pay any more money. After 15 minutes our Uber arrived, unfortunately he didn’t speak any English but luckily a young man was passing on his bike. He told me that our guide was telling our Uber driver to let him in the car and that we should quickly shout No! and get him to drive away.

 

I felt a sudden feeling of relief as we drove off, my back and shoulders sunk into the safe, comfy seats of our taxi, please get us home safe. As we hit the main road I noticed our guide at the side of our car, on his moped making his way into the centre of Xochimilco and I had a sinking feeling that this wasn’t over. As we reached the banks of the first Canal he was there waiting, I screamed to the driver to keep going. He ran along side the car trying to gain entry but failed. After 15 minutes I reassured myself we were safe but I was wrong. He appeared again on his moped, this time he stopped in front of the Uber, disallowing as to pass. NO PASSE he shouts as five other mopeds surround the car. He tries to open the doors as our Uber driver reacts quickly to lock them, he is trying to calm the situation down as the men spit and slur at us motioning to get us out the car. I notice a bank around a 100m walk and I tell mum I need to get there to get them money. All I have with me is a prepaid credit card which I have been using on a swipe and sign basis as I don’t have the pin at hand. I am so frightened to leave the car that my whole body starts to tremble. I have read stories of kidnaps and murders of tourists for money. The guys outside get more heated as they demand the driver to move into a ditch at the side of the road, the guide shows him the sign of a gun and enough is enough. The Uber driver calls the police as we try to figure out how to get out of this situation from the back seats.

 

A policeman passes on a motorcycle and I desperately wave my hands to get his attention. The men move him off and I realise that here even the police can’t help us. After waiting for around half an hour the English translator turns up. He is calm and notices my distress. I explain to him we have no money and no pin for the credit card so we can’t pay anymore. He translates this to the men and they eventually let us go, without money or the pin we are worthless to them. They will no doubt move on to their next victims.

 

It’s a different world out here, a world I have never lived before. I have always thought of myself as an open person with plenty of life experiences, I have never been concerned with travel or new opportunities. I discovered today I am guarded and protected in the world that I live in, my world where I am safe from harm and not under a constant threat of violence or worse. I have learned just how big the world really is.

Long Live the VEF and God sent you an important message QUEEN, learn from it.

 

 

Revolutions Are Always Verbose

Our apartment is a ten minute walk from Frida Kahlo’s house. Coyoacan is a suburb south of the centre which has profited from its ongoing redevelopment. It is brimming with coffee shops and a variety of restaurants, indulging in every cuisine. The laid back vibe contrasts city life and if we choose not to venture too far from our apartment we are still kept entertained.

We decided to dress up accordingly to visit our idol, Queen Frida. My mum chose a beautiful aztec print dress, with turquoise, pink and orange detail contrasting the black silhouette. Ruby painted her face as a traditional dia de los muertos calavera (sugar skull) and wore flowers in her hair. For me a floor length teared skirt paid homage to one of my all time style icons. I had pre booked our visit to the museum before I left the UK, I imagined that La Casa Azul would be a hotspot for tourists capturing dia de los muertos celebrations. I was right, the queue was 100metres long when we arrived at 10.30am, half an hour before opening. Our tickets included a queue jump and we entered without a fuss.

As you walk through the walled terrace you are instantly transported into one of Frida’s many photographs. The azul backdrop and the abundance of succulents, cacti and other greenery make it easy to identify the inspiration to her colour palette not only in her paintings but in her dress too. That particular feeling of deja vu confirms I have been here before, yet I haven’t. It is Frida’s art, photographs, diaries and her words that make these surroundings feel so familiar. We enter through Diego’s quarters, there are none of his belongings here. The walls are white and are filled with both recognisable and unseen works. As you twist through each room you are introduced to art that filled the walls of the once occupied casa, gifts from other surrealist and cubist artists. Personal photographs, portraits and unfinished works grace the last gallery room as you are whisked through to the hub of the house, the dining room/kitchen.

Traditional Mexican pottery line the walls, placed fashionably within canary yellow shelves. Petite ornate figures are made to feel even more minuscule next to the sturdy wooden table and chairs. Just off the dining room was where Trotsky stayed during his time here with the artists, exiled from Russia and eventually killed around a mile away in Coyoacan. The mosaic tiles in the kitchen spell out Diego and Frida, giant terracotta pots, glazed in blues and greens sit underneath. We reach Frida’s studio, a wheelchair sits empty next to an easel attached to a pulley, some powdered paint sit close by next to a mirror, used to create those famous self portraits. Next is her bed where her death mask lies, at the foot I notice a number of photographs, presumably Frida’s communist heroes which included Marx and Lenin. There are a collection of dolls, all hand made by Frida, all with her face yet styled with traditional costumes from around the world. I once read, that as Frida walked down the street in her Tehuantepec outfits, the local kids would shout – ‘Where’s the circus?’, She would walk on with her head held high. I love that, be who you want to be.

We have coffee in the gardens to prolong our stay at La Casa Azul before heading towards Mecardo Coyoacan for some lunch. The markets here are so overwhelming, piles and piles of things toppled on top of one and other. No rules, no regulations, only people barging through, focused on their daily intentions. We stop at Vicky’s and grab a high stool at the counter. With no idea what to order a pleasant man having his lunch translates the options for us. I choose mole enchiladas and Mum gets chicken escalope and rice, it was truly one of the tastiest meals I have ever eaten and all for 60 pesos (roughly two pounds). All filled up and raring to go we set off for San Angel to visit the next Frida Kahlo museum, the studio she shared with Diego Rivera, famed for the walkway that connected their separate houses. Research tells me as well as our AirBNB host, San Angel is Coyoacan’s neighbouring district, therefore walking distance. An hour and a half later three exhausted girls arrive at Museo-Casa-Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo.

As we approach the house, there is no getting away from how modern it looks, I imagine in 1920’s Mexico it would have been quite revolutionary. The inside felt hostile and some what impersonal even though it was filled with Diego’s art. Comparing it to Casa Azul where we felt love in abundance, here I can only imagine Frida’s struggle. The spiral staircase, narrow corridors and that really high bridge must have been horrendous with a disability, but then I guess part of Frida was to hide her barriers, to get on with things and to fight through the daily industrious endeavours. My short time here is a realisation that this attitude isn’t just Frida’s, it is the way of her people. Life here is tough and the art of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera depicts that. They found their beauty within their hardship. I can see it, I can feel it and right now I am living it.

Long Live the VEF and Frida you will forever be my QUEEN

 

 

 

 

 

Down Town Diego

Those of you who know me well will know I have always been an early riser, I am much more of a lark than an owl. I take great pride in the multiple things I can achieve as my inbuilt alarm clock affectionately lullabies me awake each morning. Having said that, add a journey of 24 hours and a 6 hour time difference into the mix and that said alarm clock feels as though it’s screeching right through you.

My mum reassured me the screaming that pierced my ears during the night had been an exotic bird, not the woman getting brutally murdered in my street as I had initially imagined, phew! As the morning sun trickled through the sky light of Casa Azul, I plucked up the courage to find us coffee and fuel. I can’t get to grips with the peso situation, my mind just isn’t wired up in a mathematical way. I let out a huge giggle as I teeter nimbly back to the flat, avoiding eye contact with any of the locals. (Just incase it wasn’t a bird and it’s my time to get murdered). As I make some toasties for breakfast, mum confirms my big shopping bag from 7eleven, coffees included has cost me £2.90. I burst out laughing, I love it here!

Since we are up, fed and watered we set of early. We are heading downtown to Zócalo which is set within the Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México district. A central square lined by palace walls and a great cathedral. The perfect place to see the artistic ofrendas set up as part of dia de los muertos celebrations. With no map and no internet connection we are destined to get lost. We soon realise that in fact none of us have any idea where we are going and absolutely no one understands our English pleas for help. A pit stop and a chat with an incredibly well mannered and perfectly spoken woman and we are back on track. We hop on a local autobùs and eventually make our way to the centre.
I am looking for Diego, my research tells me he has two murals within walking distance and a museum close by. We easily find the first, only to be stopped at the entrance by armed guards, unless we have photographic ID then we cannot enter the royal building. Unofficial guides circle the area, preying on confused and frustrated tourists (like us) explaining they can gain us entry for a considerable fee. We don’t bite and undeterred we set off to find Diego number two. The further we walk away from zocalo the more we realise we may be in unchartered waters. Suspicious looks and whisperings tells me this isn’t the right direction. The poverty of downtown is a shock realisation of another world I have never inhabited when visiting the USA or Europe. The destruction of the recent earthquake is visible and heart wrenching. We give in to exhaustion and head back to a small bar we had refreshed in earlier. I’m frustrated and angered that I had taken the girls on a wild goose chase to find Mr Rivera and in the end we never seen anything at all. As we climb into our Uber, we catch a glimpse of the street sign, Guadalupe, the street we had been looking for all along, right there where we had drinks and food a time before.

Long live the VEF and get yourself a map Queen!

 

MI CASA ES TU CASA

I was on a plane to New York City when I first decided that I would visit Mexico. I had been watching an on-flight film based on the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Frida had been an idol of mine for a number of years, yet it was the vibrancy of her setting, Mexico City that had pulled me in and had completely won me over.

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” (Frida Kahlo).

My trip has been years in the making and as soon as the flights for October 2017 were released, I bought them. For me it was a pilgrimage, a place not only that I wanted to visit but a place that I needed to visit. I had been on a long journey of self discovery and I found understanding, compassion and strength not only in Frida’s art but in her words too. My body ached with the urge to step foot into her surroundings and my heart beats to the rhythm of her electric city. I envisioned myself cascading through the succulent and cacti filled gardens of la Casa Azul or tiptoeing across the famous walkway that joined both Frida and Diego’s legendary workspace. In my mind I would eat steamed tamales, served in corn husk fresh from the street vendors, or the famous tostadas at mercado de Coyoacán, all whilst weaving hand picked marigolds through my hair.

My reality never quite coincides with my colourful fantasy. A hectic work schedule in the final weeks left my head exhausted and my body weak. I brought sincere moments of emptiness and a bucket full of tears upon myself before I had even left British soil. My insomnia had resurfaced as my stress levels increased. Was I nervous? Was it the panic of persistent planning? Or perhaps, was it the cruel realisation that this city might just not succeed the grandeur I had once cast upon it? I mean even the Mexican guy from Lidl had warned me it was a shithole! My biggest concern is that it might be me, my once passionate persona for a new adventure seems to have sizzled out. The weight of life has pressed out the enthusiasm and filtered through an icy feeling of discontent. I have given so much of myself away recently, I’m struggling to remember what made me who I am. It’s as though my personal enjoyment has been forgotten as the cogs of work twist and turn out all the feelings of my previous rebellion and lust.

“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” (Frida Kahlo). 

Both flights went by without a fuss, my grand plans of going over uni work or delving deep into a new novel were both giddily interrupted as I indulged in back to back episodes of ‘Girls’. The sea of lights as we approached Mexico City stretched beyond my gaze, gathering a frightened cluster towards the back of my throat. With a giant gulp I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. This emotion was multiplied when our Airbnb host talked us through how to lock, bolt and padlock our casa, both whilst we are at home or when we ventured out and about. Fuck!

“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive” (Frida Kahlo). 

The high pitched screams kept me from drifting back to sleep. I lay wondering what was beyond the thick blue walls of our apartment, which is affectionately named La Casa Azul. A city filled with the hopes, dreams and fears of 22 million people. I eagerly awaited my turn to step out and join them within one of the most crowded, congested and haphazard cities in the world. If you cant beat them, join them.

“My painting carries with it the message of pain” (Frida Kahlo) 

 

Long Live the VEF and Gigi don’t let your crown slip, you are your own QUEEN

 

WE CANT DIRECT THE WIND, BUT WE CAN ADJUST THE SAILS.

IMG_5939

Marathon runners are super human-FACT. They contain a certain specific that unfortunately yet certainly I do not attain. Don’t get me wrong I have never been unfit, unhealthy or even remotely unhinged when it comes to exercise. In reality, I suppose, I have always found some other grandeur to peruse my time, such as drinking morbidly with friends, watching far too much shitty films on Netflix or consuming my body weight in baked eggs. Not to mention I have never found it that cool to keep fit, opting for the cigarette and alcohol approach to increase my street credibility.

 

Darren exploded into my life like the canon scene from Barnum and Bailey’s Travelling Circus. Somersaulting, catapulting and refusing to conform, not only did he turn my world on it’s head, he literally turned me on my head too. In no time at all my wavering fitness levels reached an all time high and my ability to morph my body into sculpting different shapes made the impossible, seem possible.

 

First came TRX, you all remember me hanging off of a door frame or swinging from a tree, right? My physique never looked or felt so good, lean in all the right places with just a hint of feminine muscle definition. As exuberant as I started, I reached boredom with just or even a bit more enthusiasm. Not even the excitement of new abs kept me away from my red wine binges or my lustful relationship with white bread. The Guru needed to step up his game to keep me engaged.

 

Hello CirqusBodyCore, the one stop shop to peak physical ability! If I wasn’t doing planks on a shipping container or shoulder stands on parallel bars, then I was climbing 8ft walls bare knuckled or slithering up the stairs backwards like a deranged python. My body changed once more. It was unrecognisable, I gained a mass of upper body strength, my muscled shoulders and arms looking more masculine than I had preferred. I could crack nuts with those winged shaped muscles protruding from under my arms pits – yuk! It was all far too much.

 

So I stopped, kaput, I gave up and I gave in to my old ways once more and instead of finding my inner strength and motivation, I got fat over the winter. I pretended to myself I was happy with my wobbly bum, thick waist and sudden roundness set upon my hips and thighs, I even tried to love the extra pair of boobs that started to grow voluptuously at the bottom of my back. I thought of every excuse not to exercise and thrived on talking myself out of the task in hand. It was too cold, I didn’t have time, I was too busy at work, uni was stressful, I couldn’t leave the dog, anything at all that would prevent me from doing the very thing that not only my body needed (back boobs included) but what my mind so dynamically yearned for. I needed to exercise.

 

Darren had set himself a challenge and I looked in from a distance with awe and a slight trace of envy. He was to embark on his greatest test yet, to run continuously from London to Brighton covering an epic 100 km. If he can complete that I thought, with absolutely no marathon or even running experience, then I must to commit to a similar trial, set myself a goal, focus on reaching it and overcome any obstacles that prevent me from achieving it. Embroiled in all the running extravaganza my tongue may have slipped, eagerly suggesting that I could, should and would complete the Dundee Marathon this July.

 

I have just 5 weeks to prepare, my mediocre 10km runs are a drop in the ocean compared to the task in hand. I do not enter this challenge lightly, I understand the commitment and time involved in preparing my mind and body to reach that god almighty finish line. I have a tendency to give in when the going gets tough and remember I am the queen of excuses. But this feels somewhat different, as though I have foreseen the outcome and the triumph that will greet me as I reach my final destination. I need this to prove to myself I have it within me to never give up on life.

This is my marathon journey.

P.s I have written this post from my iPhone, whilst walking home from what was supposed to be a 10km training run but I gave up after 6km, please pray for me.

 

Long live the VEF and check out Gigi, our wee marathon QUEEN!

 

I Wear The Mask For You

kr-photography-_3

Before I really get into it, before I whip up the mass of emotion, the atmospheric pressure of vehemence arising from my infuriated sorrow or the cyclone of menacing parallelism and layers of comparability. I ask you to think of a time when you were at your most vulnerable, your weakest ebb, that moment you may have lost your flow. I remember mine well, I have actually experienced that excruciatingly numbing contortion of vulnerability through the hollow of depression more than once. Slap bang in the middle of your helplessness, go on conjure up that manipulative evil that eats your persona from the inside out, you have reached a plight of desperation where even the most ridiculous of ideas and undesirable thoughts penetrate your brain. Ok you’re there, how insignificant do you feel? how little? how ugly? and how un-strong? Now place those emotions in a large mixing bowl and give them a stir, throw in an unorthodox upbringing, an unhealthy start, whisk vigorously before pouring in an abusive relationship, young needy children, drug addiction and serious illness. Continue stirring to combine all ingredients and bake on a steady heat for as long as it takes you to realise that prostitution isn’t always a choice and has very rarely been given this open, honest and passionate voice.

 

I began reading Levi’s story with an open mind and a strong emotional stance, I did not know what to expect as I slowly yet willingly navigated my way around each transcript. I started by consciously leaving my firm, feminist persona at the door. I was certain I would develop a strong understanding and consideration not only for working women but for there clientele too, after all prostitution is considered one of the oldest professions and being pragmatic, I guess we all have that subconscious yearning of sexual desire, it’s part of our make up. We are all human after all.

 

I instantly felt an affiliation with Levi, a common ground, I consumed her vulnerability like it was my own and I carried it, along with her pain as I embarked on her journey, Levi guiding the way. I allowed myself to climb into her story, her words enveloping around me as she described the impact her job has on her relationships. She described daily woes that we can all relate to, anxiety of a new boyfriend, making correct choices, all relatable struggles. Although I cant help notice her self doubt and I pick up on the over whelming feeling of shame. Levi quotes ‘There is no glamour in it’ and describes how after each client she vigorously scrubs her self down in the shower, a ritual of removing not only the smell but the pain of her predicament, a habit she continues whilst being intimate with her partner, a trait he despises, wishing they can cuddle, talk and feel close instead. Only he and Levi’s mother know of her profession although she’s certain others have picked up on her lifestyle. She is a heroin user and claims that because she needs drugs, friends assume that’s what she does, they are not wrong as sadly often both drugs and prostitution go hand in hand creating a twister effect of heroin, sex work and deep depression. ‘I can’t do one without the other’, she says. After trying endlessly to quit drugs, Levi finds the shame of prostitution and how her life has unravelled overwhelmingly punishing to deal with, which often amounts to relapse after relapse.

 

I think of my daughter Ruby and the solidarity of our relationship, only last night after a long ten hour shift, I trudged the uphill journey home, greeted by her infectious grin, holding a watery cup of hot chocolate for her tired mum. I cherish our ordinary time together, our morning routine and heated debates over appropriate hairstyles or practical footwear. The thought of her growth of independence and her invaluable patience with others keeps me grounded in the knowledge that I am nurturing a good egg. Yet her fear of self acceptance and her sensitivity of others opinions reminds me that we are all balancing, poised upon a thin emotional web of self security and self deprecation. Levi is a mother too, she has a son and a foreboding dread engulfs her as she envisions the moment he questions her career choice and/or heroin abuse. The turmoil that is manifesting in her mind of the impact of her son’s upbringing makes me stop reading with a start. Likewise with Levi my family are the nucleus of my survival, so I am side by side with her and my heart aches along with hers as she emotionally outlays how important it is to spend time as mother and son. I am transient, within a feeling of helplessness, anger and a deep, deep sorrow. I feel stuck. I determine that Levi is stuck too.

 

My despondency turns to fury as she describes her time with the punters, providing services to two, three or often more men per day. Levi works from home and I find it difficult to comprehend lending my body, mind and surroundings to these strangers. I consider my home a safe place, a haven or refuge, women including Levi are risking both their families and their own security by letting clients in. An overwhelming feeling of aggravation and vexation implodes inside me as Levi retells a horrific tale, depicting a time at her most vulnerable, danger was fraught, as she was held captive by a punter but she incredibly escaped, she reminisces further describing violent attacks and rape. This information is enormously difficult to transfix and all I am able to digest is the emotional turmoil that coincides with this threatening situation. She is left scarred and frightened, cheap and dirty, exploited, humiliated and dehumanised.

 

Let’s serve up the cake we baked earlier, as we slice through, take time to notice the complex layers of manipulation, self-disgust, intimidation, isolation, disassociation, numbness, stigmatisation, imprisonment, violation, control, doubt and shame. If you’re finding this difficult to digest then this is only the beginning, the icing on the cake. Try putting yourself in a sex worker’s shoes, go on, step into Levi’s and walk with her. In my opinion, she is one of the most resilient people I have had the pleasure of finding out about and I am in awe of her continued strength. I walk along side Levi and I give all I have to support her. From the inside outside, I wear the mask for you.

“At the end of the day, we can endure more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

 

Inside Outside is a short project run through the Encompass Network, giving a voice to those who have been involved in the Sex Industry in Scotland. The project gives them space to tell their story through words and photos. An exhibition of the contributed works will be displayed at the Scottish Parliament building (Holyrood) from March this year.

 

For further information visit

http://www.insideoutsidescotland.wordpress.com