On December 22 of last year, my father picked me up from Ft. Lauderdale airport, the beginning of a visit home for the holidays. It had been nearly a year since we had seen one another, just enough time for me to forget how bright his eyes became when he saw me, how supportive he was when I spiraled enthusiastically down the corkscrew of my newest idea, and how erratic and stubborn of a highway driver he had become.
At one point, lost in conversation and his ever-present zest for life, he masterfully cut across four lanes of high-speed traffic, just so we wouldn’t miss our exit. He laughed, unapologetically, and complained about how distracting the ongoing construction of the interstate was.
I remember shaking my head at his stubbornness. I remember questioning his competency as our navigator. I remember feeling tossed from my own safety net, from my pace of life, a pace I thought I had been setting.
My father’s manic maneuver marked a poignant point of reflection for me: my life was being experienced from the driver’s seat. I was hesitating to steer life in the direction I wanted it to go. I was reluctant to map out a new route because I questioned both the authenticity behind it’s charting and my abilities to navigate with integrity.
But in that moment it was clear: even if I was uncertain of the coordinates and even if the course would be far from precise, I no longer wanted to be a passenger in my own life.
So, I took lesson from my father: I decided to reroute. I hopped in the driver’s seat.
Yesterday, February 13, was both my father’s sixty-seventh birthday and the day that I said hasta siempre to my time in Washington, D.C. – a three-year whirlwind that empowered transitions in every facet of my life. But even in the seemingly countless tornadoes of transformation, this city has affirmed that if I drive life from a place of uncompromising authenticity, I can continue to transition, and still be me. Without apology. Without exception.
Today is Valentine’s Day and I’m sitting on a balcony in Cartagena, Colombia. My gaze is fixed to where the shoreline meets the city, gentle waves roll in and if they could speak, their r’s would roll in sultry Colombian persuasion. I just spoke to the man I love and I’m sipping pineapple juice, blended by one of my dearest friends. We’re lucky to be traveling through Colombia together.
Rerouting has led me here, away from routine and into unfamiliarity. Apart from the people I love and closer to those I am rediscovering. Rerouting is steering me in the right direction. My father would be proud.