2 years ago today, at this time exactly, I was in the fetal position in the corner of a dingy motel room on Ejercito Nacional. The pase-1980’s-southwestern décor was enough to make anyone want to vomit, but I had bigger things on my mind than the cactus pattern on the comforter. Like what the fuck was I doing in
What was I thinking?
Who does this shit?
Seriously though, who does this?
Where are we going to live? Am I going to have to live in this puta’s paradise of a motel for the rest of my life?
Would I become another murder statistic?
Melodramatic much? Yes, at that moment, as I drank Boone’s Farm Sangria straight from the bottle and stared cross-eyed at the rental section of El Diario, this was how I felt. I was never a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of person and I decided in that moment that moving to
was by far the stupidest thing I had ever done… and I’ve done some pretty stupid shit. When I look back at that moment, I realize how much I have grown in the last 2 years. I thought that our 10 years here would be something lamentable that we would one day refer to as “the lost years” as we regrettably whispered explanations to our children. Instead, I learned the most valuable lesson that I may ever learn; life is what you make it. Mexico
I have tried so hard to focus on the good and “fake it till I make it” and blah, blah, blah. For a while there I was doubtful, but PSA people: It works. There really is something to all that “when life hands you lemons,” bullshit. I wasn’t sure I would survive a week in
Juarez and now here I am, lovingly referring to it as mi Juaritos as I jokingly duke it out with other expats over which border city is inferior. (Much love to my TJ beach bums. #wink) I’m sure a lot of what I have grown to love can be shared with people all over , but I have to assume that some things are specific to this region. Mexico
1. I love hearing the people. Mexican people are a passionate breed. They love big and fight big. When I first got here I just silently thought, “Why can’t everyone just shut the hell up?” Of course I was a different person then and was quite used to the idea that the world revolved around me and that everyone should go to sleep when I went to sleep. After a year of living behind a park where teenagers played soccer until midnight most weeknights, I suppose you can say I’ve gotten used to it. The random dog’s barking is even growing on me whereas just over a year ago I was strongly considering slipping my neighbor’s
a lethal dose of quaaludes. Chihuahua
2. I like chile con queso although that’s more of an
El Paso thing than a Northern Mexico thing. Artery cloggingly delicious nonetheless. I no longer scoff at burritos that are the size of my pinky finger. Apparently the has the whole burrito thing all mixed up. Burritos are not supposed to be that big. Whaaaatever. On that same note I have become semi-obsessed with street food. I will try anything from anywhere. Balls to the wall. I had an incident where I bought a bean burrito from the back of a Sandusky-ish van to fight a fierce hunger pang and actually bit into a chunk of bar soap. Other than that the street food can be pretty superb and in a worse-case-scenario, edible. I have finally stopped dreaming about Barro's, Rubio's, Filiberto's, House of Eggroll, Burrito Express and Gecko Grill. US
3. I no longer question when someone says they’ll show up (or pay us back or deliver XYZ) on Tuesday at 4:00 pm and I don’t hear from them until the following Sunday at 6 am. That’s become normal to me (outside of the workplace) and although it’s not how I operate, tardiness no longer drives me to fits of rage.
4. I don’t bat an eyelash when I see a caravan of bullet-proof SUVs. This is probably the most fucked-up change in mi ser but when I look at the big, worldly picture of it all, it’s not a bad thing. I have learned to drop my head down quickly and draw little or no attention to myself. I’ve also learned what areas best be avoided so that the aforementioned becomes irrelevant.
5. Above all, I think I can accredit my newfound happiness and Zen with life to my fellow expats and others involved with
immigration. I don’t know what I would have done or become had it not been for you all. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in the last 2 years, along with a few people I wish I’d never met. I’ve learned to be cautious with everyone, especially people I’ve met on the internet. It’s hard to tell who’s going to be that friend that you go to the movies or share a bottle of wine with and who’s going to be a raging, hormonal, lunatic who shouldn’t leave the confines of padded walls. Some people are good company and some people are just Kelly Bensimon. US
6. I can’t imagine paying more than $4 US for a hair cut or more than 30 cents for a pound of potatoes, onions, tomatoes or jalapenos. I have quickly learned which items are cheaper in the
US and which are bargains in . It’s taken some time to get used to it all, but at this point shopping has become smooth sailing. Mexico
7. On that same note I have learned to live on so much less. We earn less than half of what we earned when we lived in the
and we are still alive and pleasantly plump. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment by any means but we have adjusted to some degree and if nothing more we have become more grateful, humble people in the process. US
8. I can find things! Office buildings, people’s homes, restaurants, stores... I can find them all! I don't need a Garmin or a Tom-Tom, I just find shit. Can you believe it? At first I lost my mind when I realized that no one uses major cross-roads here and East and West were confusingly referred to as Oriente and Poniente and not Este and Oeste as I had assumed. Now, if someone tells me that it’s “a few kilometers down from the red building next to the burrito stand by the elotero behind the gas station with the graffiti,” I no longer revert back to the desperate fetal position of my first night in
A lot has happened. I have changed in ways that even I cannot see at this time. I never expected it. I don’t regret a single moment and couldn’t feel more blessed. Thank you.