It’s the Year of the Mermaid

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you

— From Now On, The Greatest Showman

She resurfaced in the most unexpected way.

It was December 29, 2018. It was freezing in NM and I was feeling the warmth from NYC. I was virtually following along the adventures of a BFF and received the following:

The conversation continued in our group messaging with talk of a Mermaid Parade and tattoo questions.

I was sold. I didn’t know about the Mermaid Parade but Googled upon being told about it. It’s hosted at Coney Island in June. It looks like complete debauchery and a blast (go to Instagram and use #MermaidParade to see for yourself).

A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return
Learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
Learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?
Where do I begin?

— Walk, Foo Fighters

Who knew that conversation would bring the mermaid back from the deep. She started popping up all over.

But there she was, first at Target. I then started to find mermaids appearing at Pier 1 and Cracker Barrel, on cups and bags, clothing embellished with shiny scales and blankets that mimicked the a mermaid’s tail. I was even made privy to a special edition mermaid cereal. She kept calling and I couldn’t ignore her anymore…I had to revisit the story of the little mermaid.

“I don’t see the same way he does.”

— Ariel, The Little Mermaid

When Disney originally released The Little Mermaid, Ariel and I were the same age, sixteen. While a cartoon, it still spoke to me as I was trying to navigate my own life, find myself, explore and learn on my own. I could SO relate and was connected to Ariel in so many ways: sense of wonder, wanting something more, playfulness and learning through trial in error. Ariel’s father was an authoritarian parent—it’s my way and no other.

Illustration by Meri Fox-Szauter

While the head of my household was my mom, her parenting style was similar and as a stubborn girl, I tended to rebel and do the opposite of what she said. The tale stuck with throughout my young adulthood, when at the age of 20 years old, I decided to get intimate with this character and she was permanently decorated upon my body. Know that it was something that was important to me as I get queasy at the sight of needles and I had already held the hand of several friends in their attempts to decorate their own bodies so I knew the pain they felt going through this process.

My mom was aghast, months later, when she saw what I had done. I remember having a communications professor at UNM talk about the fads of tattoos and people should only get them if they had meaning. He went on to say they weren’t meant to be cute (big eye roll). Another time, I had friend comment that she didn’t understand why people got tattoos; didn’t they think about what would they look like when they turned 90 years old and in a nursing home … First of all, if I am blessed to live to be 90 years old, I will grateful that I lived that long and oh boy, will I tell the stories of my mermaid (and I’m sure they will be embellished with all the years of living).

The years passed and while she was with me, she is in an inconspicuous place. So, at times it was like she wasn’t present. It wasn’t until that winter night that she resurfaced and with power. Because it had been many years since I last watched the movie, I decided to view it again. This time I watched it from an adult perspective, and I found a whole new world (get it…oh wait, wrong Disney movie…) and I dived right in (it’s late and I’m getting loopy…you can laugh, I won’t tell).

For a number of years, I had conformed to the norm or what was expected of me. I had forgotten who I was, and I let someone (or actually a few people) compromise ME and steal my voice. I had felt like I had been buried beneath a boulder in the depths of the sea. In re-watching the movie, here is what I now found:

  • There are people that may come across as harsh, but maybe they are doing it out of love and don’t really know how to communicate with you.
  • Watch out for sea witches. They are real. They covet what you have, and are lurking in every dark corner waiting for the opportunity to steal your spirit.
  • There are things in life that will take you out of your element. You need to try them anyways.
  • You’ve got to walk before you run, but wobble with the best of them.
  • You may fall, but you will learn.
  • No one can save you, only you can (even if he is a prince).
  • And always remain true to your voice!

This mermaid soul has been refreshed. Nautical themes are swimming around in my design mind…so more to come (I know if I point it out, it’s not funny, so I hope you found it on your own). I’ll let you know how the Mermaid Parade plays out in June. In the meantime, if you see some fun mermaid themed products send me a photo (I’m a collector of memories, not things–too much dusting).

With light and love,
Dara Sophia

1 thought on “It’s the Year of the Mermaid”

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