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Monday, February 21, 2011

How Do I Love Thee?

Life in Mexico is not necessarily as dreamy and sweet as I've been making it sound.  I think a big part of me wants to convince myself and everyone else that moving to Mexico is the right choice for us.  Can I say with all certainty that it is?  Nope.  But one friend asked me, "Does the thought of moving to Mexico make you feel happy or excited?"  My answer is "For the most part, yes." 

Why the little qualifier?  Why "For the most part" and not just a resounding, "YES!"?  Well,  there are a bunch of "what ifs" that pop up when making humongous life-changing decisions such as these.  Things like homesickness and the current struggles with violence are points to consider.  I would miss my mother immensely.  She and I have always been really close, and in recent years we have been even closer due to the traumatic divorce she went through with my father and the subsequent feelings of loss that have left their mark on our family.  But I believe we are through the worst of the storm, and at this point, if I allowed that horrible event to continue to affect my life enough to alter my life decisions with my husband, it would be incredibly unhealthy.  I realize that as one's parents grow older we have certain responsibilities to them, but she's not to that point yet, and I will cross that bridge when I get to it.  Anyway, there are the "what ifs" and I'll discuss those later.  Let's get to the "Yes" for now.

Mexico and I have had a long love affair.  I first became aware of Mexico as a small child.  My dad had gone there once and came back with little gifts for us.  I don't remember what I got, but I remember my sister's gift.  It was Mexican Jumping Beans.  If you put them under a lamp, they jumped.  Around that same time I realized that English was not the only language that people spoke.  I heard the word "agua" on Sesame Street, and my world got a little bit bigger.  In high school we could choose between studying German or Spanish, and I knew that Spanish was the choice for me.  I was entranced by the musicality of the language.  It was so pretty! 

Studying Spanish never felt like a burden to me.  Even at the college level, when the subjunctive tense loomed over me like a huge question mark, I kept at it.  During my freshman year my college roommate announced that she was going to sign up to spend her sophomore winter semester in Mexico and that I should do it too.  At first, I thought, "No, I can't do THAT!"  It was enough of a shock for this small-town girl to go to college in Chicago, let alone make the long journey all the way to Mexico!  By the time my roomie convinced me to go, the list of available spots had filled and I was placed on the waiting list.  As it turned out, a couple of people ended up cancelling, including my roommate!  I made that fateful trip to Mexico.

WOW-ZA!!  My world exploded into a wonder of bright colors, new feelings, foreign concepts, wondrous imagination, altered perceptions, and new-found self-confidence.  I was hooked.  The language was crammed down my throat as fast as I could swallow it, and my brain was buzzing and bulging with cultural delights and an abundant vocabulary. 

For a few years after college I went back and forth between Minnesota and Mexico, waitressing at home and teaching English in Mexico.  I'd fly into Mexico City and hop on a luxury bus to take me to "my city."  I felt like I experienced all of the joys and hope and sadness of the country in that 4-hour ride, just looking out the window.  The desperation of poverty was evident in some of the shanty towns we'd pass through and my heart would lurch at the sight of it.  Moving on, the beauty of the countryside and the colorful houses and shops and the smiles of people greeting one another would bring a new set of tears to my eyes.  The political campaign signs, mostly painted skillfully on the sides of buildings awakened me to the serious nature of the plight of an impoverished place and of people mistreated or misunderstood.  Upon arrival, the greetings I'd receive from strangers, acquaintances, and friends who felt like family drew me in deeper and deeper.

When I fell in love with my husband, I was also going through a time where important decisions and actions had to take place regarding mundane things like paying school loans and finding the perfect career.  It felt like I was a character in a story who had found the perfect plot, but my story was being rewritten by an accountant or a business man and I was just going to have to make do and make adjustments.  Adjustments were made.  My husband moved here, and it feels like we've been living a skewed life in some ways. 

Don't get me wrong.  I believe that Mr. Husband living here was crucial to our relationship for half a dozen reasons.  But I think the appropriate lessons  have been learned, and now, with HIS new-found confidence, Mexico can be HIS dream too.  As for me, every time I return to Mexico it's like part of my heart is going to it's happiest place.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo, I have had a love affair with Mexico since before I knew it, probably around 9th grade Spanish class I'm sure. I never got the opportunity to study in Mexico but it came so naturally, I knew I was destined to live a Latino lifestyle :)