My stark white Salwar Kameez fits a little snug, but I don’t mind. Really, I don’t. I remind myself that once I look like a powdery, sweaty rainbow it won’t matter what size I am, or that the inseam of my pants are about to rip each time I sit, um…Indian Style. The drums have already started and immediately sync with my own heart beat, as we pull up to the big white house. The ten of us tentatively filter into the garden and make our way to the white, plastic lawn chairs that have been arranged in a circle…my favorite shape. Some of us sit, chat and giggle, amused with this one-of-a-kind experience, while some of us stand with our hands on our hips, not knowing what to do with ourselves, looking around like we’ve never seen a backyard before. (Actually, it’s just me doing that). And some of us are lightly, lazily, shyly then wildly groovin’ and bouncin’ to the music. It’s hot…ninety degrees at least. I glance over to the young man fiercely playing the Bhangra Dhol Double Sided Drum, his face and hair already covered in paint and sweat.
I sit down next to Melissa, a sweet and joyful girl from Los Angeles. We watch as Analou, Raha and Quinn have already begun dancing and painting each other. “Oh my gosh,” she says playfully, “people spend their whole lives avoiding messes like this!” Then without warning, I feel a warm, dusty, messy shower of powder on my head. I turn to find Hailey holding a baggie of red Holi powder. Holi is ON! I grab some green Holi powder from the small table, housing forty bags of this stuff. A passive sprinkle on Alexis’s back, a quiet spritz of green on Melissa’s arm, an indifferent splash on Stacy’s head. I can feel myself holding back, though; I really just want to pour this shit all over me and everyone around me, proof I do not avoid messes. This is a festival that celebrates Spring over Winter, good over evil and I want to bathe in the good, my good. Ultimately I want my life to look and feel like a freaking rainbow; a holy array of beautiful, colorful, unique and textured choices and moments. If India doesn’t guarantee me that, I’m so afraid nothing will…
The whole group, still in their whites ... not for long!
Holy Moments, life-changing wisdom and validation of myself. That’s really why I went. For eight months, I told those who wondered why India? that I wanted my first trip abroad to be somewhere colorful, with culture and people who speak English. Simple. Straight forward. No further explanation truth needed. Secretly, I was looking for answers, like I always do; I’ve constantly searched for meaning, nuance and explanation in EVERYTHING I do, say and think, since I was a little girl. I have this belief that being in a relationship, a marriage, an enjoyable and lucrative career, being a parent will somehow safeguard me from bad things happening, like death and heartbreak. Since I’m not a wife, a mother or successful business owner,– three titles I can’t wait to wear proudly– I thought World Traveler is the next best title, (and I don’t have to rely on someone else finding me attractive or worthy to earn it.) Perhaps if I went on this trip, I’ll see the light. I’ll receive some sacred message from a Guru, sitting atop a pile of gold in an Ashram. He’ll give me the answer. He’ll tell me what to do. He’ll grant me immunity from pain, disappointment, life.
The colors of Holi everywhere.
Just because I’m afraid of messes, doesn’t mean I want to avoid them. I needed to hear Melissa’s words that day. Though I’m pretty sure she meant it in a literal “people usually don’t care to have dusty paint smeared on their face and clothes” kind of way, I needed to be reminded that sometimes, a bit of chaos, shambles, mayhem are often the birthplace of something new, something unexpected, perhaps even colorful. I needed Hailey, my dear, intuitive, brutally honest and fearless friend, to tell me the hard truth, so I could have a chance at enjoying India for what it is, what it’s supposed to be; a cow-infested, kinda-smelly, brightly colored, cultured, bombarding and holy country.
Yes, people do spend their entire lives avoiding messes like these, and I’m glad I’m not one of them.
Colors faded but joy remains
** This post was originally published on Erica's personal blog - so check it out there and follow even more of her adventures! She's great!!