Days 7 and 8 :)
Reverse, reverse. Cha-cha now y’all.
However, I am reversing the exact same way I came. It is day 8 of my journey. And what a journey it has been. The Rocky mountains are almost behind me again, and I arrive back in Chicago tomorrow around 2pm. My little sleeper room feels comfy and cozy and probably smells like a mixture of Vix Menthol and DayQuil. My body decided to go full on cough/cold so that has been fun! I feel bad for anyone else in this car who has had to listen to my nonstop coughing for the past 24 hrs.
Honestly, I rather get sick now when I don’t have much to do but relax and write. Take in the sights. That is one of the benefits of this trip. I’ve gotten a sense of what a productive sleep/work schedule would be for me. My body naturally wants to wake up at about six AM most days. No matter when I have gone to sleep. If got to bed at 9pm the night before then I wake up at 6am feeling rested and great. I have gotten some of my best writing done during these times.
Then, If a take a little nap after breakfast for about 30 minutes I wake up and feel super refreshed before lunch. After lunch I bang out a few more hours of writing (or reading/ or looking at my phone). I take another little nap before dinner and after dinner I write again until bed time around 9. Unfortunately, this schedule really could not exist in the real world where I don't get home from rehearsals until 10 or 11pm most days, where I can’t just eat, and write, and nap all day long. Oh well.
Yesterday was a blur. As was today... They are all sort of mixing into each other a mess of writing and coughing and talking to strangers.
A highlight was dinner with Dave and Carol last night. For the first few minutes they both seemed very closed off, who knows maybe it was my own energy. I was tired and not feeling well.
Dave confessed that he was from D.C and had been traveling since before the inauguration and protests because he didn’t want to be around for any of that. He told us that in D.C everyone picked a side and sometimes he just didn’t want to be on anyone’s side. I wasn’t sure right away how to interpret that. Dave was a young white man, so I felt a bit uneasy wondering... What do you mean 'side'? Which side are you DAVE?
I’m embarrassed sometimes writing this, I’m aware of my own biases, but I think it is important to be honest with yourself most importantly if you hope to grow and change. As soon as I felt myself judging before I knew anything I changed my thought pattern, I remembered my convictions from Day 1. Be positive. Live your truth.
Well, as often happens, Carol asked me about my trip and I shared with her that I was a playwright. Dave asked me what my plays were about and I gave them the run down. I went right for the big words, “My plays often deal with the issues of social justice, and feature Latinx characters because I myself am a Latina from a predominantly immigrant family. The issues have ranged from gentrification to domestic violence to PTSD and sexual assault.” Kaboom.
Well. Let me tell you. These were the magic words! What a conversation. Carol almost immediately opened up and said that she herself was in the middle of a divorce as a way to escape from the domestic violence inflicted on her by her husband.
“Being alone on this trip is the first time I’ve felt safe in years.”
Wow. Dave and I were aghast, and heck I was proud of Dave, he opened up and softened up right away.
“You must be so brave.” He said. Then, “I am on this trip trying to heal as well, I’m a veteran, and suffering from PTSD.”
WHAT! Literally all the themes of my plays were pertaining to these people’s lives. The magic of theatre y'all.
The conversation flowed from there as if we had known each other for years. Even more coincidentally, Dave mentioned that gentrification was a huge issue in his community in D.C. Again I’m like, “The first play I ever wrote was about gentrification!”
I've also been thinking a lot about gentrification just in general because said first play is going through rewrites right now, and of course because of my trip to to The Mission.
Dave told me about the great work he was doing, trying to educate his black neighbors on their rights to prevent them from getting kicked out of their homes. He said, “I’m using all my white guy privilege showing up at meetings in a suit and tie acting like I have credentials to help these people. It’s not right.” I decided right then that Dave was all right. And that the issue of gentrification seems to be effecting a lot of communities negatively... I'm thinking of digging deeper into that issue. It keeps popping up in my life and that's for a reason... though I am not entirely clear yet on what that reason is.
I thought a lot in this last day or so about the power of positive thinking. I chose to alter my thinking and believe that my dinner mates were awesome people before we even had a chance to connect, and then ended up having one of the most open-hearted and moving discussions with them. And they weren’t just okay people, they were exceptional, brave, change-makers.
Two years ago when my health declined terribly and I was fearful for my future due to the Crohn's nightmare I remember promising myself that if I got better I would make it a priority to travel. I didn’t know how I would, due to the whole being sick and poor thing, but I just kept putting it out there, kept putting myself out there, applying for trips like this on whim, imagining myself seeing the world. Travel is so important. I feel badly for people who have not had a chance to see more of the world.
When I look out my window and see the beauty of this Earth I can't imagine how anyone would not want to protect it. When I meet so many different and wonderful people who just want to be safe and happy I cannot understand how people can harbor such hate for their fellow humans. Every soul is important and beautiful. But I can in a way understand, because if you don't know anyone who looks different from you or prays differently than you than of course you will 'other' them. It's too easy to think that the world revolves around you and your desires. But it doesn't.
I'm trying not to be angry when I think about the horrible things happening in the world this past week that I have been traveling. I keep reminding myself that people operating from a place of hate have a deep fear and sadness in them that they have never been allowed to express in a healthy way. This is not to excuse the inhumanity running rampant, but to offer some perspective. My sorority sister Daniela used to say that when someone was mean to her the first thing she thought was, "Who hurt you?" She probably has no idea how often I think that when I hear of someone doing something awful. (Who hurt you Donald?)
There is a always a choice. I will always choose love. I will always TRY to choose love. I am not perfect. I choose optimism, I choose positivity.
I still can’t believe I got to take this amazing trip for free. But I can believe it. Because I dreamed it and it came true. I know not everything will get wrapped up all nicely like that, and not all my hopes and dreams will come true (and heck I did get a bad cold on this trip so it's not all rainbows and roses) but I will keep hoping, and I will keep dreaming.
If anyone would like to give me a trip to Japan, or France, or Australia you know where to reach me :)