We stood in line outside the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, eating fresh mango with Tajin and chamoy, cackling at the world’s stupidest jokes like a coven of drunk witches and taking photos against the bright, cobalt blue walls of the once-home and now final resting place of the iconic Mexican artist. I was fighting what felt like the world’s worst hangover, remnants of a late night/early morning of drinking absinthe cocktails and mezcal (which is disgusting and I don’t care what anyone says).
Even in my state of nausea and concern for the shoes of all those waiting in the long, winding museum line/possible barf splash zone, it was impossible not to feel affected by the space and the woman who created some of the most important pieces of art in history.
So it was especially fitting to be there with some of my closest friends, each of our hearts weighing with our own preoccupations, wandering through the home of someone who opened herself with such intense rawness. Who lived her life honestly, and was true to her heartaches, pains, beliefs, sexuality and love.
Frida Kahlo has always been an inspirational figure for me because of this. Reading about her life and seeing her artwork throughout my formative years set a standard for how I wanted to live my own life. Frida set for me the example to speak truthfully about pain and vulnerability, and expose parts of myself that I instinctually hide behind an awkward joke. This column has become the vehicle for that. Decades after her death, Frida still reflects parts that live within each of us women. And perhaps because of her I am able to articulate those things. She taught me the language to do it through her artwork.
"Frida set for me the example to speak truthfully about pain and vulnerability."
Even so I maintain a pretty tough exterior, because when you go full Frida it exposes you to all kinds of shit. My psychic therapist says I should work on this.
As it also goes with women, the larger myth of Frida Kahlo involves her passionate and tumultuous marriage to famed artist Diego Rivera. Her love for him was so deep, in fact, that she requested that her ashes be placed in a frog-shaped urn as an homage to her toad frog (her nickname for Diego) and be within him for all eternity. I, on the other hand, have strongly considered requesting that my ashes be left at a Marshall’s because that is a place I can spend forever in.
I had been warned through countless movies, TV shows, books, articles and friends that the pressures of “settling down” would bump up a notch after 30, but I thought my strong will and talent for shutting people down would see me through. That the expectations of how others believed my life should be led would not weigh on me, or my decisions. However, two years into my thirties and, goddamn, is it relentless. Fucking hell, guys. Can I live?
This trip turned into some real Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants shit. Not just because it turns out that all eight of us, with our varied sizes and shapes, fit into the same size small stretch black dress from Zara. How that was possible is, well, likely because of the magic of stretch fabrics, but I suspect there may also have been some kind of otherworldly feminist voodoo happening there. Maybe also the brute force employed to get that thing past our tits.
But no, the true Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moments happened when we all talked candidly and often emotionally about the strains of womanhood, relationships, career and all the pressures and complexities that come with those things.
How those who are wholly unaffected by our procreation find a way of guilting us for not having children or sacrificing things because you do. And for those of us who are parents, how tough it is to not feel drained or like you have to wave the white flag at your dreams. How as fiercely independent women we often find ourselves in relationships that call for us to give up parts of ourselves we may not want to let go of. How at our age we have to actually say shit like “You’re not my dad.” Like, really? And for those of us who refuse to give up those parts, what does that mean in the whole not-wanting-to-die-alone department? I mean, I already got a back up plan thanks to my niece who said she’d take care of me when I’m decrepit so I think I’m set. But still.
In being in Frida’s home, I learned that I don’t want her life or her love, or anyone else’s for that matter. I want mine, and whatever that looks like. As Frida once wrote in a letter, “I don’t give a shit what the world thinks. I was born a bitch, I was born a painter, I was born fucked. But I was happy in my way...I am love. I am pleasure. I am essence. I am an idiot. I am an alcoholic. I am tenacious. I am simply, I am. You are a shit.”
I want to stop counting years, days, failures and mistakes. I want to stop counting completely. It is what it is, and I am what I am, and I will be what I will be. I’m not entirely sure what that is sometimes, but that’s my adventure to explore. And I will do it as I see fit, and with the confidence I’ve gained through my hard work and resistance.
There She Goz appears every third week. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.