Where The Boiling Waters Are Found


I am sitting atop the Pyramid of the Moon, and I am the embodiment of anger.

I am mad because it is hot and my legs hurt and I have to leave Mexico in about 15 hours, even though I want to stay. I am mad because I haven’t worked out in 2 days and, instead, have exclusively eaten various iterations of fried and sauced-up carbohydrates. I am mad because I am PMSing, and my face and arms are bloated like balloon animals.

I am mad because I have forgotten how complex relationships can be; how it feels to have your wit volleyed back against you by a worthy opponent, how it feels to be vulnerable and open, like a mollusk plucked from the sea and splayed apart to be seasoned. I am mad because I crave stability, a framework for the rest of my life. I know this is unfair to request, and yet, I still simmer with frustration.

I used to numb myself with all sorts of things, and now I don’t. There are no distractions to take me out of myself; no sassily tart bottles of Chardonnay, no beguilingly fleeting lovers. It’s just me, with nothing to obfuscate or deflect against myself. Just me…Raw, real, messy, complex.
The weather in Mexico City appropriately mirrors my inner workings. In one moment it is pleasantly warm and charming, all sweet winds and summer rays. Twelve minutes later, an arctic chill descends, followed by a torrent of inexplicably heavy rain.
It is both a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply.
My whole life appears to hang in front of me like an immense canvas, but I am not sure whether I see opportunity or ambiguity in the empty spaces.
I am renting a room in a rambling old house in La Roma, for the princely sum of $21 a night. The owner is an architect and each piece of furniture is thoughtfully selected, contributing to the overall balance and beauty of the home. A large brown pointer named Frida serves as homestead guardian, though she is not around as much as I would like.
The other human occupants of the house remind me of myself nearly five years ago, when I was living in Spain as a student. They are young, from places like Argentina and France, with beautiful faces unlined by phrases like “must receive by close of business” or “urgent data request”. They wear artfully ripped jeans and live off of $4 grocery trips at the Oxxo down the street and smoke joints before watching horror movies together in the living room. I am sad that I feel like I am observing an alien species, whenever we accidentally bump into each other in the hall.
And yet.
I feel equally as extraterrestrial when I think about the world of asexual starched white shirts straight from the dry cleaner, begging permission to come in an hour late so I can take the dog to the vet, pretending to care which dish to bring to the holiday party, ugly Ann Taylor kitten heels, surrendering every sunshine-y week day to sit alone in a windowless office, to make just enough to barely pay the rent on a $2000/month apartment.
I am hovering somewhere between freedom and control, mid and late twenties, opportunity and ambiguity. I can’t seem to articulate where I fit in, if anywhere.
It is both a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply.
Cinnamon rolls from Panadera Rosetta or huevos rancheros at J. by Jose Andrés manage to monopolize my CDMX mornings, while afternoons are occupied with cultural activities and exploration. This means that for three days straight, I consistently miss my one pre-planned activity, attending the Mexican version of SoulCycle, known as .
literally means “cycle”, and I am drawn to the non-athletic interpretations of the word, mulling them over in my brain for a few days. I find myself reading a spiritual book about the luteal cycles and how they govern the female body, and then dive into another, very different, tome chronicling Mexico City’s historical cycle of revolution and relative stability.
I reflect on how much I have cycled through in the last year-mind, body, and spirit-revolving my way through forty-something pounds of fat, and the toxic energies attached to them. I re-read old notes on my iPhone from the past November, where I talk about having no friends in Miami, and feeling like I would never be good enough for the person I was dating at the time, and hating my body, and especially, hating my job. Now, I don’t have any of those problems; those cycles moved on to a different stage.
Bad things come, and bad things go. Good things come, and good things go.
At the center of the cycle of change is freedom; the constant chance to take ahold of and wield what is toxic and scary in our lives, to throw that negativity into the fire from which we rise to be our most authentic and successful self.
It is both a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply.
I am walking through the Templo Mayor ruins by myself. It is the only day which I spend alone, soaking in the last visual remains of the once great Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, now situated in what is the heart of modern day Mexico City.
[What remains]
I am not really on a spiritual quest in that moment. In fact, I am mostly pondering where the closest Zara is in proximity to the Zócalo, in case my companion can sneak out of his family reunion to take me to 1OAK that night.
As I contemplate the likelihood of sitting at a table with Scott Disick, an unprovoked visualization settles in my head, as I approach a new wing of the temple ruins.
What I envision is an underground mine. I see myself in a barren underground room, then feel myself being forced forward into a much darker room, through a tunnel which becomes impregnable. Part of me wants to go back, but I know that it is not because there are better things behind. Just that those things are known, in the barren room.
The room I am in now, in my visualization, is covered in darkness, but somehow I am aware that there are countless precious jewels embedded in the wall. They are dazzling, colorful, and bigger than my fist. All I have to do is reach out and grab them, to find the courage to plow ahead and seek.
Our minds are mysterious things; they often know how to craft stories and metaphors to reveal truths for our more rational selves. That’s all that dreaming is, and this is for certain a day dream.
But I find it hard to dismiss the fact that the room which I was looking at when I had this mind’s eye visualization turned out to be the spiritual and sacrificial hub of the temple. A minute later, I listen to a guide in Spanish say how this precise area is what the Aztecs believed to be the center of the world, the room where warriors willingly spilled their blood and priests chanted and incanted, in hope of inner illumination and insights.
It is both a blessing and a curse to feel so deeply.
A few days later, I stumble upon a translation to an Aztec poem in my Mexico City history book. It speaks to my waxing and waning emotions, to my cyclical nature, to my lifelong quest to forge ahead to find even greater things.
“Here is the great city
Of Mexico-Tenochtitlán,
In this place that is renowned,
In this place that is exemplary,
Where the wild cactus fruit grows,
In the middle of the waters,
Where the eagle screeches,
Where the eagle spreads its wings,
Where he tears apart the serpent,
Where the fish swim in the blue waters,
In the yellow waters,
Where the boiling waters are found,
Where feathers drown in the tule fields,
Where we are found,
Where all the people of the four directions
Of the world will return.”
-Aztec poem, author unknown, from El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City by John Ross

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