Words by Erika Ramirez. Photo by Rae Witte.
January is about beginnings, whether by way of an external or internal force. For me, after last year, I rather focus on the internal because that I can control, that I have say in. You decide and then you begin. You decide whether to stay or leave. You decide whether to let go or hold on. You decide whether to stop or go. You decide what’s failure or a lesson. It isn’t easy–there’s factors to consider, factors that sway your heart in a direction your mind tells you to avoid–but, you decide.
Before I begin, I want to take a minute…
The past year was rough, especially for someone I love. For myself, it was the scariest, most productive year I’ve ever lived through and the happiest I’ve been. I quit all full-time and part-time jobs and focused on freelancing full-time to then dedicate myself to launching ILY. I visited my family (in California) more than I have in the past 10 years that I’ve lived in NYC, coincidentally at a time when I needed to the most.
At the same time, I didn’t get a job I thought I would be perfect for. A guy I liked chose someone else. I had a bag packed to move to L.A…None of it worked out.
I thought it was fate, and maybe it was, but not fate itself, but how I depended on it, how I thought I had control over it, and how I talked about it. I focused on what I couldn’t control, focused on deciding the next move of someone else besides mine. (In reality, what I really wanted to control is the fear and hurt that the person I loved was experiencing.)
Was me not getting a job fate? Was it not meant to be? Was I not meant to love someone I wanted to love? Even worse to think about, if it’s meant to be will it be, as they say? I think we depend on fate to calm our fears, to ease rejection, and/or to help us let go. I don’t think it was fate behind those actions happening or not happening; I don’t think it was an obscure force that swayed destiny in another direction. Then what was it? I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to worry about what I can’t control. (I’m scared I’m losing faith in fate.)
January is about beginnings, but the past year and months my nights have bled into my days. I haven’t been able to tell my days a part, but at the same time, I’ve had to learn to be comfortable in the fear that comes with living day to day. I’ve stayed up on the couch until 3 AM worried and crying and I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of drawing out editorial ideas on a poster board on my living room floor. My finales and my beginnings have been determined by me, and it’s the most gratifying and fucking scariest thing I’ve lived through. But even scarier, is you can’t determine anyone else’s finale or beginning even if you’d give the world to do so, even if you’d give the world to them.
I am thinking about the future. I am thinking about beginnings. But, lately I’ve been envisioning a beginning where not only I live in. And it’s scary, because right when I think I see a silhouette other than mine in my vision, it begins to fade.
I recently re-read Jorge Luis Borges “Aprendiendo,”
“Después de un tiempo, uno aprende la sutil diferencia entre sostener una mano y encadenar un alma, y uno aprende que el amor no significa acostarse y una compañía no significa seguridad, y uno empieza a aprender.
Y después de un tiempo uno aprende que si es demasiado, hasta el calorcito del sol quema. Y aprende a plantar su propio jardín y decorar su propia alma, en lugar de esperar a que alguien le traiga flores. Y uno aprende que realmente puede aguantar, que uno realmente es fuerte, que uno realmente vale, y uno aprende y aprende… Y con cada adiós uno aprende.“
You can find the full poem translated in English here, but I want to include this part particularly in this letter:
“So you plant your own garden and embellish your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring flowers to you.“
I will plant my garden. I will begin with being present. I want to squeeze every laugh and lesson I can from each day, as I’ve seen my younger brother do so this past year. I want to love in the now. I want to look inwards when making decisions, even when I want to plan my future with someone besides myself in mind.
January’s theme is Beginnings and February’s is A Moment. We’re taking submissions and pitches for February, so think A Moment! What does A Moment mean to you? Feel free to send over submissions and pitches that tie to the February theme at INFO@ILYMAG.COM. All ideas (essays, interviews, photo essays, short films, vignettes, trend reports, analysis, short stories, art) are welcome, especially the unconventional.
there’s so much depth in your writing! Thank you for always being vulnerable, it makes your work so relatable.