This is the one photograph of all my life I can identify with. I do not have my eyes closed trying to protect the frail retinas from the camera´s flash. I like this woman, who with all her insecurities, depressions, limitations and fears has had the courage to leave the world she knows behind and risk herself in a completely new one.
On this photograph I am 26 years old and pregnant with my first son. It felt as if a new world was growing inside me, and it was. This gave me such joy at times that I had to stand still in the streets and just bear that joy.
How could it be possible that such happiness was in me about the fact to bring one more life into this imperfect world, which my intellectual mind often judged as "shitty"?
I had no answer to that question, but sure enjoyed that deep happiness.
Life in Mexico was so very different from life in Germany. Instead of hiding in their homes, people were on the streets. They did not rush from here to there, but sat on benches or walked around selling newspapers, lottery tickets, toys, fruits and sweets. Shoeshine men conducted business on the sidewalks. People stood together and chatted, or they sat on church steps playing the guitar or flute asking for money from the passersby. Shops stayed open until nine at night. Children played in the streets, sometimes until midnight. Cocks cockadoodled and dogs barked happily all through the night.
I am part of Germany’s “no future” generation. I had protested nuclear power plants and prepared myself psychologically for World War III. Whenever I tried to explain this in my very bad Spanish to the Mexicans I met, they responded, “No hay problema!” Then they would take us to a fiesta – there was always one somewhere – and my anxieties would drown in Mexican colors.
I married and became the mother of three sons. Every other year I returned for a vacation to see my family and friends in Hamburg, but I never returned for good. Germany did not feel like my world anymore. Although I learned Spanish quickly that did not mean I felt at home in my new world either. Often I felt as if I were a motherless child sitting on a high chair far above the Atlantic Ocean.
During one of those first days when I felt sad and lonely, I started to paint. I had not done that since my childhood. My sadness crumbled, and everyone loved my paintings. I kept playing with brushes and colors, and then, instead of practicing as the psychotherapist – for which I was educated – I became a painter. My husband opened a restaurant in town and I started running an art gallery.
It all started 34 years ago.
Photography by Gabriel Suarez