The music feeds the crowd and the familiar reggaeton beat brings my body to move in all kinds of ways.  A smile is doused over my face, lit up even brighter by the noon sun.  We’re packed in tight, but no one is uncomfortable.  In the last hour, we’ve already become family.  Although I’m focused on the music, I can hear the cheers of people around me.  Not only on the grassy side, where we live life the cheap and fun way, but also on the shaded bleachers side, where I occasionally make eye contact with those clapping fiercely.

What’s even happening right now?, I laugh and think to myself.

The DJ had started an impromptu dance competition among our viewing area.  The parade hadn’t started yet and crowds were getting tipsy and anxious.  The excited energy was building and he wisely drew it into a fun activity.

My competitive fire ignites.  I’m ready to win this challenge, whether it’s real or not, and dance my heart out.  My friend and I shake to the rhythm…and then some.  I’m laughing and dancing and drinking in every moment of the song.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, a small voice calls me to notice and appreciate this moment even more.

I’m wearing nerdy cargo hiking pants

I haven’t shaved my legs in a couple weeks

No trace of make-up, rather slathered in sunscreen

Not a sip of alcohol all day

In sum, I was utterly owning being completely myself.  Despite the amount of gorgeous, beautified Colombian women around me (don’t get me wrong-I find nothing wrong with showering and putting on some eye shadow), I was the one being cheered on.  I felt alive and accepted.  Although in the months prior, I had hesitations about coming to a new county with unknown expectations of me, this moment confirmed, once again in my life, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, a place where I feel loved for who I am.

(By the way-we won!)

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