When I was seven, my favorite TV show was Beverly Hills 90210.
Although I recall my mother’s attempts at trying to prevent me from watching ‘programs’ that she believed were too mature for me at my age, I was just as determined to keep up with the Dylan/Brenda/Kelly love saga in all of its dramatic dysfunctionalism as I am now, at the age of twenty-seven, to ensure that my days are continuously kick started with a venti iced coffee and to maneuver my limbs into articles of couture clothing that I’m totally fiending for but that I have no business actually bringing anywhere beyond the walls of the dressing room that I’m selfy-ing it all up in.
So, you understand, then, that no one was going to prevent me from catching snippets of Kelly Taylor’s popular problems, chic red BMW, and bouts of drunken behavior by her unfit mother.
On one especially drama filled episode of 90210, Dylan escaped the wrath of Brenda’s disapproving Dad by crossing the border into…MEXICO, with Shannon Doherty riding shot gun in his white soft top convertible (it was 1992, and despite Brenda’s Velcro bangs — which, by the way, is a look that I shared with her at the time and probably still would if my mother had it her way, I thought they were just the sexiest couple alive) and while the scene was probably filmed on an open lot somewhere in the vicinity of Encino, California, my seven year old mind was enraptured by the idea of a land that seemed so foreign, sultry, warm, romantic and wild.
Throughout the years, I maintained a strong, if mystifying and inexplicable, pull towards all places south of the border. While I grew up in New York, and spent a fair amount of time in Europe, I consistently found myself drawn towards Latin culture. During one particularly informative session with my former therapist, whereby I was still in law school and going through a difficult time in my life, I remember telling her that I was emotionally exhausted and that I just wanted to “leave and move to Miami or somewhere in South America.”
She acknowledged my statement, appearing unfazed.
“It’s interesting to me that you’re consistently drawn to places that are geographically far and warm,” she retorted, “considering the fact that parts of your life have been so cold.”
I have a large, tribal like extended family, which is something that I’ve always loved. That said, my parents weren’t the most popular people in the group, and neither was I, so growing up, I coveted the idea of having a brood of close blood relatives, with whom I could do…well…friendly familial things with, like celebrate the holidays, belly laugh, trade secrets, call just to say hello, rely on, etc., but for reasons that surpass my understanding and that no longer really matter to anyone, my parents, sister and I, spent most holidays alone, didn’t encounter visitors during long hospital stays, save for a handful of rare gems, and generally found ourselves ostracized from the larger, tight-knit group.
Here’s the thing: my little sister could field goal kick me in the face during a bout of anger concerning who would inherit one of my mother’s Chanel jackets, for instance, and within an hour, I would be over the whole episode. I might kick her in the leg, and tell her that I hate her or something, but in truth, there’s nothing – and I quite literally mean NOTH-ING – that she could ever do to me that would permanently alter our relationship.
She’s my little sister.
This entry isn’t meant to be some kind of a womp womp sob story, a he said/she said, or anything involving any negativity towards anyone at all – it’s a factual depiction of emotions that I experienced throughout my girlhood, but that I eventually freed myself from entirely. Sometimes, it’s important to learn how to press the delete button.
It would be years before I would come to understand that God often forces us out of our comfort zones so that we have no choice but to push, if uncomfortably, forward towards our greater purposes. Maybe, yes, I was a lonely little girl, at times, and perhaps I felt a sense of lingering sadness when I saw that my mother was under an intense amount of pressure due to a distinct lack of support, but for every injustice that I’ve faced, I’ve been rewarded tenfold later in my life.
Recently, when given the opportunity, I bounded into Venezuela, thrilled to finally be going for more than a day and a half (my last trip was cut short due to a work obligation) and ready to really experience the culture with a capital E. Within a span of two weeks, I visited a friend’s farm, got on a horse (and then promptly dismounted, but you get the idea), went to a covert little hair salon in Caracas, whereby my desired shade of brunette was finally (!) restored in less an hour’s time, ate arrepas, empanadas, and a delish variety of pastas and meats all day every day, and experienced quality time with a wonderful family who organically, and openly, treated me like one of their own. From a farm, to a city, to a crazy beautiful beach, I did experience the same exotic luster that I’d envisioned in my childhood — the one that seemed so foreign, sultry, warm, romantic and wild.
I’ve always had a knack for recognizing when I’m experiencing a moment worth being nostalgic for. I’ve learned a new fact and it’s simple: Venezuela is appealing to me (among other reasons) because of its rich, tight knit culture, and family is enormously important to me, as well.
But now, if I happen to feel alone, I run back to myself, and because of all of the beauty that the world has shown me, the love that I’ve received from my parents, close friends, and even from perfect strangers, I’m finally whole within myself; I understand that now, and I’m very, very proud to say that it’s my truth.