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