Adventures in Mexico
Guest post by Jonathan LaPoma
On numerous occasions, Mexico has saved my life. I moved to the small Pacific coast city of Colima after graduating from college in 2006, and it stands out as probably the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’d suffered from OCD, panic disorder, general anxiety, depression, and PTSD since I was a kid, but that period after graduation was probably the lowest I’d ever felt, and I was walking along the border of self-destruction for far too long. I spent far too much time partying and around heavy drugs, and had such dark thoughts, I didn’t think I’d live to twenty-four.
But a friend of mine who was studying Mexico’s most active volcano near Colima asked me to move down there. At first, I said no—not because I was worried about living in Mexico, but more so that I was terrified to move toward something I actually wanted. Throughout my life, my dreams had taken such a severe beatdown that I felt terrified to allow myself to feel happiness. Once I allowed myself to believe in something, another fire would come through and char those hopes into ashes, and I couldn’t take another wildfire in my soul.
I told my friend no several times before things got so bad in Buffalo that it was either move to Mexico or die. I bought a one-way ticket and figured maybe I was taking this trip to go off somewhere far away and die away from the judging scowls of friends and family.
But, after falling in love with Mexico and a beautiful woman there, I felt love for the first time. Slowly, over the four and a half months that I was in Colima, I realized that I wanted to live. Though I loved Mexico, I realized that I needed to return to the US to face my demons there and also to take a shot at my dreams of acting, writing, and forming a band, so I moved back to Buffalo and began writing my novel, Understanding the Alacrán, which was loosely-based on my time living in Colima.
Shortly after, I moved to Miami, where I gained the experiences to write Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story, and after that, I moved back to Colima. I hoped to marry my girlfriend and live there forever, but after only 35 days, I was back in the US, cashing in my savings bonds, filling up my car with my belongings, and moving West. As previously mentioned, I planned to move to LA, but I was still so broken, that I ended up settling in San Diego. I figured I could save up cash and overcome my anxiety before taking on Hollywood, but when I started therapy for OCD—which I didn’t even know I’d had—I’d also began an almost-ten-year healing journey that kept me in place, despite the fact that I’d wanted to get out of San Diego almost the minute I’d arrived.
Over the nearly eleven years I was in San Diego, I traveled to Mexico probably over twenty times, and each trip helped me to escape my misery for a brief time. I fell into some pretty dark funks while I was in San Diego—one in particular I thought would end me—but after a trip to Oaxaca, I felt strong enough to continue moving forward in San Diego when I flew back.
Now, I live in Mexico City. I’ve been here for almost three months, and I love it. The city is filled with possibilities and I feel excited to wake up every morning. For all these years, I’d wanted to move to LA, but I figured if Mexico is where I’m happy, then I shouldn’t waste any more time outside of the country. I’ve already started a band, and we’ve begun recording some of my songs. I don’t really have any specific plans other than to continue to make music, get into acting, write/direct films, write more books, and continue to travel throughout Mexico. I haven’t conquered my demons yet, and may never do this, but at least I feel optimistic about my future now.