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24 hours in New Mexico

Hello all!

I come to you from the comfort of my bed. A candle to my left is flickering and it smells like sweater weather. I just finished journaling and releasing some tears, (and by tears I mean paralyzing sobs). I’m listening to the fireplace speak, and we just got home from driving to New Mexico and back for a 24 hour stay. So that’s where I am now. Why was I in New Mexico for only 24 hours you ask? I’ll answer.

A few months ago I got a DM on Instagram asking if I could read some of my poetry at the 50th anniversary memorial event for Larry Casuse, in Gallup New Mexico. Gallup, New Mexico is a heavy town. To be in a place where so many of my people were murdered and beaten, and a place where alcoholism was rampant and still is, was incredibly triggering and intense. I’m not ready to go in to more detail about why this event and being in Gallup was so triggering for me, but I believe it was absolutely no coincidence that I was there.

On the day I was reading, I told my partner that it felt similar to preparing for a tennis tournament. When I competed competitively in high school and college, I had certain routines I needed to stick to before I started competing. I needed the same meals, to set my outfits out the night before, to write my notes on my opponents, to make sure all of my equipment was ready. I’d never get great sleep because A. I was always a little nervous/anxious. And B. I was always a little excited - it was my first love, my first passion.

This was my first time reading some of my poetry in person, and when I tell you the very thought of it made me anxious the weeks approaching, that’s the truth. I told myself that I don’t like my voice, that I’ll stumble on my words, that I’m a “writer” because I’m not a strong “speaker”. But these are just thoughts, and thoughts are not real. My negative thoughts are not who I am. Although we were in New Mexico, it was cold and the wind was making its presence known. I got up there, and my voice was glitchy and my heart was singing loudly, but I kept reading till my voice found me again. Somewhere between poem 2 and 3, the wind blew one page from my hands. This would happen to me, I thought. But I didn’t let it phase me. I got choked up while reading a few times, because these words I share that come from inside me are hard enough to write, but to speak them out loud, felt like an extra layer of vulnerability. By the 4th and 5th poem, I was in a groove. My voice felt powerful, and I spoke a little louder for those that can’t. Once I finished, I knew I made my people proud. I made myself proud.

If my 12-year-old self looked in the future and saw what I was doing, she would not recognize herself in me. She would not believe that she is not a professional tennis player, but has found a second passion, too.

I am so grateful to my partner and my mom who drove to New Mexico and back with me. They were with me through my anxiety before speaking, and after when my nerves were calmer and the release of relief and accomplishment met me.

And I’m grateful to myself. I would have turned this down a few years ago in a second. The negative thoughts would have won, and I would have retreated to my safety bubble. But, I was meant to be there. Someone very special sent me, and I’m so glad I went. Thank you for reading! I’ll be posting the poems I read in separate blog posts soon :)

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