February 9, 2015 by Kelsey
Greyhound Bus to Mexico
I went to do what everyone in my family feared. I took a greyhound bus from San Francisco to Mexicali, leaving everything behind that had restrained me. I finally moved on from my poisoned ideas about rekindling things with the person I considered my soulmate. He was gone, and I begrugingly let the memory of us go.
Focusing on something specific and unique held the only remedy. I knew I must leave the places I never called home, in order to create my own story. As pitiful or lame as it might sound, I always built my “identity” and goals along someone else’s “identity” and goals. Someone I cared for; someone I yearned to build a life with. I found that, and focused on it. Everything I achieved, every step I took…that person never left my subconscious. In the innermost corners of my mind, he was always there. Whatever choices I made, he played a part in deciding them whether he knew it or not.
He left me, however. It took me all five stages of grief to move on, but not in the conventional, traditional way that follows the psychoanalytical rulebook.
I went to Mexico again, but this time completely alone. There was no him, the love of my life that I drove away gradually as the result of my personal demons and eventual insanity. There was no her, the mentor and friend I traveled through Mexico with at 19. There was no me, either. I’d lost myself. After months of wasting my life, cringing and shaking in existential angst and withdrawal from emotional connection, it dawned on me that flying to Mexico in accordance with my original plan would not work. I couldn’t board an airplane, stand in line for hours at airport security, take off my shoes, walk through the cancer-causing body scanner, and achieve the self re-discovery I needed. To truly heal, I needed to rough it. I needed to go through the pat-down at customs at the California-Mexico border. I needed to experience it—and not because I wanted the human contact of a random customs officer—though after over a year of celibacy, I wasn’t entirely opposed to it either.
I needed out. My so-called life no longer worked for me. Memories of bliss, complication and hardship, and falling in love with a person I would have taken a bullet for. I needed to purge. It’s called a breakup because it’s broken, yet the clarity I finally developed took twice as long as I ever imagined it would.
It’s humbling, when the person you care for most falls out of love with you. After we broke up, every time I tried to sleep my bed felt like hot coals or nothing less than 25 needles piercing my back. This was not a result of one-sided or perceived codependency, but rather the pain I felt at the time that I believed I had singlehandedly created for us both.
I started to drink a lot, whilst consuming more caffeine than the FDA recommends. Alternating shots of espresso and vodka, I tried to stay sane. I wanted to hide my resentment for his upward climb toward fulfilling his goals at a college better than the one I graduated from, while I struggled to earn a living as a freelance writer and web designer in a town I hated. I wouldn’t say I considered myself more experienced in terms of academia, but the frustration ate at my self-worth and eventually caused me to snap.
I acted unpredictable, snarky, cold, and for lack of a better word, bitchy, Something happened, and I couldn’t pinpoint it. I felt disassociated from myself, and my work reflected it. He began to seem distant, but my newfound insecurity and complicated self-image interfered with my intuition. I couldn’t fix it; I didn’t know how.
Why board a greyhound bus to Mexico and stay awake 16 hours with your arms tightly crossed around your bag and your legs clenched around your backpack? Are you crazy? Why risk it? What are you doing out here alone? Aren’t you scared? You have nice eyes…quieres asistir una fiesta conmigo ?…
And on it went. Perhaps at the time I’d developed tendencies that led me toward wanting that sort of attention, for research purposes probably. I felt scared at times, but never enough to warrant the desire to quit. If I died on that bus or if someone planted something illegal in my luggage, causing me to spend 10-20 in a Mexican prison, I would endure it. It’s an experience, life is, and despite each of our places in the driver’s seat of our respective cars—we can’t know what’s around the next corner, and don’t have time to ponder the previous maneuver.