The National Preparatory School. After her bus collided with a trolley, hurling a metal rod through her pelvis, Frida's ability to move with the ease of a gazelle ended. She had always been curious, creative, and intelligent, but enforced isolation and confinement made Frida a loner. Without the ability to run and join the others or take off at a moment's notice and explore, Frida had to create a stronger inner world. And, this gave her the "time to wonder" and "to search for the truth," as Albert Einstein put it.
I wonder what Frida was contemplating at the close of 1930 when she was in San Francisco facing a new year. She had only been in the city for a month and a half. She had met a number of painters, photographers, and sculptors, and she had seen some art and the varied terrain of the Bay Area. She had even traveled north towards Napa, which we might imagine as a beautiful drive beginning with the grand crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, but in 1930, no bridge existed.
At twenty-three, she was a young woman who had been through more than most her age, but she was still just at the beginning of a personal and artistic journey that would have many more twists, turns, and somersaults. She must have been amazed that she was in the United States because she had been dreaming about coming to the land of gringos since at least January 1st of 1925, eight months before her bus accident. Even after the accident, she still referred to this dream in letters to her boyfriend, Alejandro Arias Gomez.
To give you a hint of Frida's thoughts concerning traveling and new beginnings, I'm going to quote from a letter she wrote to Alejandro on that first day of the new year in 1925: "My Alex, Today at eleven I picked up your letter but didn't answer right away because, as you will understand, you can't write or do anything when you are surrounded by a herd. But now that it is 10 o'clock at night, and I'm all alone, it's the most appropriate moment to tell you what I think.... Don't you think we should start properly preparing our trip to the United States? Tell me what you think about leaving in December of this year; there'll be enough time to put everything in order, don't you think? Tell me everything you think about it, good or bad, and if you really will be able to go, because look, Alex, it would be good for us to do something in life, don't you think? We can't stay in Mexico for the rest of our lives, like fools! Since to me there is nothing more lovely than traveling, it is a real pain to think that my will isn't strong enough to do what I'm telling you. ...At midnight I thought of you, my Alex; did you think of me? I think you did, too, because my left ear made a sound. Well, as you know, 'New year, new life.' This year, your little woman won't be a 7-peso sugared almond (peladilla), but the sweetest and best one ever known, so you can eat all of it... Your girl who adores you, Friduchita."
Even though Frida bemoans her lack of a strong will to make a trip to the United States happen, it was her unyielding will that helped her walk again when she was told she would probably never be able to and it was her staunch determination to be independent that made her focus on painting and seek out Diego Rivera's opinion. Frida certainly had her moments of utter despair and hopelessness while convalescing, but she never completely gave up hope and, in 1930, her dream became a reality; she was in the United States, but instead of seeing this new land with Alejandro, she was seeing it alongside Diego.
"New year, new life." "Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living." These types of thoughts probably entered Frida's consciousness on the eve of the new year in December of 1930; they are wise words to live by. I hope my new year is filled with even more holy curiosity than usual and the joy of discovering new aspects of myself and Frida. I hope yours is filled with "time to wonder" and the will to make your dreams come true. Happy New Year!
© Celia S. Stahr 2014