The sensation of being on the beachfront, it’s very freeing. The softness of the water, just pulsing, is meditative. I felt entirely at peace, like I was supposed to be there. I’d never seen such saturated color before, either. The blueness of the water and how liberally color exists in that space was amazing. In New York there can be such an aversion to color. You see everyone in black turtlenecks or muted neutrals, as if they’re afraid to use it or stand out. But it’s different in Mexico. Everything is so vibrant and you accept it. You embrace the color because you’re immersed in it. I dressed in it, too. I wanted to evoke a sense of ripeness, to literally look like a fruit on a tree, so I was wearing bright yellows, puffy sleeves, and these long, flowing dresses with accents of red and yellow. I reveled in sticking out a little bit among the other tourists.
A few days in, my friend and I took a tour to the Cenote Azul sinkhole. Not knowing how to swim, as soon as our tour guide mentioned how deep it was, I decided I wouldn’t do it. Everyone else was diving in but I was content just sitting, and staring for an hour. But soon enough, I began to feel like an old version of myself, the Lo who sometimes let fear guide her. When my friend Jenny came back up, she looked at me and encouraged me to take the plunge — “Lauren, you could stand. You don’t have to go in the deep part, come on, just experience it.” So I started down the slippery, kind of scary, stairs.
I was grasping the rail, pushing past my unease, until I was in the water. The water was cold, the kind of cold that requires you to sit with your discomfort until it passes. But then, there I was — feet on the ground, with Jenny, other people, and so many fish — and I was so proud of myself. I might have been in the shallow part, but I was still in. In that moment everything kind of clicked for me: the old version of myself, the one who kept her fear close, was becoming more of a stranger each day. I was getting more comfortable with the feeling of jumping into things — both literally and figuratively. I realized that it is always possible for me, even if I’m not jumping in head first or into the deepest part of a sinkhole, to still be fearless and not limit myself. There’s space for me to challenge my fears and to be brave within my own frame of reference. I don’t need to limit myself or wait for people to give me permission to pursue the things I want. With any situation, I can approach it like the sinkhole: in my own way.