What is not pictured here: me in process - healing my relationship to my human shell, reclaiming my feminine energy, finding love for the ass and thighs my grandmother gave me, Nick Champa lathering my body with oil to make my Cuban skin shiny, laughter all around about the sand in my butt crack, the tears I cried all over my breakfast burrito in the cafe an hour later, the two of them embracing me in the parking lot, and Pierre saying in the sweetest French accent you have ever heard, “Jenny Cakes, would you like to have a nap?” It was an afternoon where I fell apart and came back together a million times over as they held me in their gentle presence.
A space to feel safe in front of a lens, empowered in a body I have spent most of my life in conflict with. I stumbled through memories - headshot photographers who had asked me to take my shirt off for the last few photos - not feeling at home in my body but being seen as a sexual object was jarring, confusing, and I battled with the advice I’d been given by representation to keep my weight way down, to wear heels because I was short, how could I look this way but not speak fluent Spanish - when would I be enough. We metabolize outside influence even when we believe we’ve blocked it.
I fell asleep that night beneath the stars in Joshua Tree, a place which has been a vital place of healing for me. It broke my heart to learn that 43,273 acres of these beautiful trees, signature landmarks of the Mojave desert, burned in a wild fire this year. Things we love are often gone before we’ve had a chance to say goodbye. Lately, I’m finding myself with a sense of nostalgia in present moments, understanding that everything we love can be taken from us - all we can do is love hard while it is in our orbit. I’m kissing my mother a little harder each time we part. I’m letting “I love you” fall from my lips more frequently.
I am grateful for these soft humans who have been a source of tenderness in my healing, gently guiding me toward taking up more space in my nuanced identity as a womxn.
Stay tuned for (gulp) more from this series.