Larger Than Life

I received a Facebook message from my friend’s father – call me at this number – in all CAPS. I knew it was urgent.  I tried to get a line out, but I couldn’t.  I went down to the Mexico City hotel’s front desk, asking if they could connect me to the States.  Finally, I got a line, but it was breaking in and out – barely audible, a faraway voice said, “Mark killed himself today.”IMG_9429

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Parish of San Juan Bautista

 

My friend, a personal trainer, with a larger-than-life personality, who calls me, “Peterson” and who’s taught me so much about strength, about hunger, about desperation, about human nature, and about pain, is gone.

“universal commonalities are everyone wants to be loved, no one wants to be the butt of the joke and everyone wants to get the joke.”

“Slow down!  1-2-3 HOLD 1-2-3 release”

“The byproduct of pain is compassion.”

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever been friends with, Peterson.”

“If you can’t afford a speeding ticket, then don’t speed.”

He nitpicked me about my posture – “chest up, shoulders back and down, hands beside not in front of your hips – stand as if you’re being pulled upward by the breastbone,” and by listening and retraining the muscles, we healed my back pain.

He told me I was a pusher, not a puller.

He taught me about tapping out.

He hit my hand one day during training, hoping to motivate me to duck walk around the gym’s indoor track, yet it did the opposite. He pointed out that he never expected me to get silent and distant after hitting my arm. He kept apologizing, but it was fine – he’d pointed out a way I cope with pain. So often, he, to me, was a hand-held mirror, showing me what’s really going on inside myself.

And here I am, the day after the news of his death, standing in this church in Coyoacán, Mexico City, with the best posture I’m able to muster and trying to cope with the pain of his death. I picture him critiquing my spine alignment, and in the silence of this empty parish, I wonder if whomever put the gladiolus in the church aisles today is aware the erect flowers seem to have been delivered directly to me from my friend, Mark – celebrating our loyal, respectful friendship.

I’m able to embrace the beauty of his existence, not solely, the sadness of the tragic ending to his larger-than- life presence in my life.

Pain builds compassion –

pushing out the bad and pulling in the good.

M.S.

August 6, 1970 – July 21, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dependent Relocation

Booked on a nonstop, round-trip flight, I travel to Mexico City to visit LCP, who’s working there on a 3-month job rotation. I approach airport security and see my ticket is marked, TSA Pre-Check. Effortlessly, I clear security – no need to wait in a long line, to unpack my laptop or to undress. Nice. Sitting at the gate, I notice my flight reservation lists the purpose of my trip: dependent relocation. Classic, I’m now a dependent of my child. Role reversal at its best. Thank you, Apple!

It’s a 3 hour flight from Phoenix to Mexico, DF.  I’m pretty much the only non-Hispanic onboard, except for the AA flight crew, and oddly, I feel at home.  Spanish is being spoken all around me, and I’m picking up intermittent words, gracias, por favor, buenos días, hola, porque…I get out my phone and open the app, iTranslate, practicing conversational Spanish during my flight.

I land in Mexico City. With a slight wait in baggage claim, a quick pass through customs, and a leisurely exit into the airport’s passenger greeting area, I see a sign with my name on it.  A guide, Geraldo, has been sent to transfer me to LCP’s hotel. Geraldo has a driver, so he sits next to me in the back of the van.  Geraldo speaks little English, and I speak little Spanish, so we communicate by handing our cell phones back and forth with our Google translators going full throttle. Incredibly, we were able to converse – thank you, Technology!

LCP meets me on the curb of her hotel and leads me upstairs to her temporary home.

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After a Corona Lights and chips & salsa welcoming snack, we take an Uber to the Roma neighborhood, Mexico City, and have a pre-dinner drink at the hip bar, Blanco Colima.

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– cheers-ing Apple for bringing us to Mexico City!

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Don Julio tequila & lime juice shots

We then go next door to Rosetta, a quaint restaurant tucked behind huge wooden doors on the first floor of a colonial townhouse. Known for its seasonal menu, Rosetta is the perfect place for us to begin our Mexico City experience! IMG_8945

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after dinner port
after dinner port
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Rosetta, the Roma neighborhood, Mexico City

Beautiful wine service, fresh, delicious food and a magical ambiance have us anxiously anticipating our week together, exploring this city, compliments of Apple, Inc., and have left me, a relocation dependent, speechless in both Spanish and English.

All I can say is,

role reversal rocks – rocas de revocación del papel

Half-Staff

When the sun and the Stars and Stripes align,

Light miraculously lifts the somberness of a flag at

half-staff .

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Half-Staff

I took this image of our flag at half-staff with my iPhone at a car dealership on a busy Phoenix street.  A car salesman approached me as I kneeled down to take the photo in the overhead, bright noonday light.  After proudly disclosing he is a photographer, the car salesman recommended I return at sunset, since the setting sunlight looks so good on the flag. I thanked him for allowing me on his dealership’s lot, while clicking the button on my phone’s screen. He continued with his instructions, advising the best angle to shoot the shot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s telling “half [his] staff” about the female on the car lot taking a photo in the worst light imaginable.

When we’re led by Light, we’re usually blinded by it,  believing certain Light only happens once, so we’ve only got one shot – and it’s our own.

 

Love Bears All Things

 

Out into the big world you go again

to a place where you or I have never been.

Leave your possessions behind and go!

with your ultimate treasure –

in your crib at birth, in your arms as a toddler, and in safe keeping every day since 1993

He’s always with you, along for the ride,

reminding you,

love bears all things.

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“Guy” at the end of the world, Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego, 2015

J⁴ Angels

Will you please come to Mexico City with me?

Too unhealthy to go to MXC – J⁴

Calling all angels: we need a choir.

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J⁴,

your angels are packed and ready to travel,

celebrating

no prefacing

it’s all practice

line it up

let it move through you

every meal matters

those are your angels 

it’s all about the stories

I’m not done

I’m not going anywhere

You’ve perfectly said and done everything,

and now your angels, a fulltiming choir, are equipped to sing your praises,

carrying your wisdom and relaxed joyfulness

into the lives of those who desperately need inspiration

from your tremendous courage.

Eternally yours,

RP