Recently I decided to leave Mexico…to go someplace else. Where is not important for this thought process because while, yes, I believe that the decision was based on where I plan to go…it also included me having to leave something behind. I have been in this country for 8 years. I arrived with no real idea of what was in store for me. And trust me, I have always been a bad planner…but the last 8 years took me so far beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself.
But let’s talk context…for those of you who don’t know me…I arrived in Mexico 8 years ago with the dream of being able to dive all year round. I arrived with little more in my suitcases than cutoffs and tank tops and I was not planning to obtain much more in the near future. My desire, at the time, was to just quiet the voices in my head. The ones screaming about the injustice that surrounded my mother’s death and her sickness along with every decision made because of it and since then. But in addition to that, I had just wanted the chance to live some place else besides NYC, now that I no longer felt as though I was leaving my mother behind to worry about me.
As arrogant a New Yorker as I have always been, I believe that when you live in NYC, why would you ever want to live anywhere else. I recently read that there are 800 languages spoken in NYC…can you even imagine that?!?! In NYC, the economic and business capital of the world, we had everything…great architecture, parks, museums, Broadway shows, comedy clubs, nightclubs, restaurants of every cuisine, the best public transportation system one can imagine, as well as all four seasons throughout the year. We also have mountains to hike and beaches to visit as well as neighborhoods where any culture might feel at home and libraries and schools of every kind where educations can be obtained.
Yet, I felt as though I was missing something. I remember, I stepped off the plane in Mexico and turned my back on all those things I had grown up with…just outside my door. I ventured out into a world where I thought I was going to be just fine as I was. But, boy, was I wrong! I eventually learned a new language. And yes, I will never speak it like a native, but I can communicate in Spanish pretty well now…actually very well, considering the fact that I never took a Spanish class in my life.
But that is not all that I’ve learned since I have been here. I also learned a different taste of food, tastes I would have never imagined marrying together to even just put on popcorn! If you are lucky, one day I can take you to the movies and show you what I mean! Though, the style of cooking I learned here is also not what I mean.
I have met people who have loved me just for being me. Coming from NYC, which has the reputation of being superficial and pretentious, I never knew that anyone could just love someone else just because. Even recently, while selling my furniture, I have had the opportunity to meet many random people who are just who they are. They never put on a show for me…being completely comfortable with their own existence enough to just be who they are. (A woman who was in love with my style, and came back to me three times to purchase my knick knacks and plates and then sent me a photo of her table set with my stuff…showing me that my stuff had a new home.)
There was also fear in some people…me obviously coming from a different place (whether that be the States or Germany)…some feared me and who I might be…who I may be looking to hurt while being here, how dishonest I may turn out to be. But as soon as I was given an opportunity to tell my story…what brought me here, how hard I’ve worked to support myself to be able to stay here as long as I have, how I taught myself the language and the culture and how many friends I will always have who are from here…whoever it was that was listening would fall in love with my story.
I have now been writing in this blog for as long as I have been living in Mexico. Wanting to share with the world how easy or even how difficult each step I took while being here was for me. I had wanted people to read my words and see that if I could do something so crazy and outrageous as what I do everyday, maybe they could find the courage deep down in their own souls to do the same thing. The other day, I was chatting with what I will call “an old friend” who asked me when I was going to start my book…how he had been reading my blog for all these years (something that SHOCKED me) and how much he liked the style of my writing. He felt as though this blog was really only the first stepping stone, and that it had to lead to a book.
I guess that is another person reminding me that I have a story to write. A story that I guess I have to tell. A story of my own fears (I am sure I have them) in addition to the fears I’ve witnessed over the years as well as those I’ve overcome. I moved to Mexico to dive! Then I fell in love…was practically married for five years…had a family like no other I’ve ever had outside of my mother…and then while alone, showed myself that I could do all this alone as well. Me, this poor girl from Brooklyn who kept being told as I grew up that it didn’t matter where I ended up, just so long as it was off of 50th Street…has survived 8 years in a foreign country known for its volatility, and instability and I will walk away leaving a big part of my heart behind.
8 years and no one could have ever prepared me for what I have learned…even the things I have not even realized yet and won’t until I am where I am going…to see what had to be left behind. I used to say that I left NYC because I had felt there was something missing in my life…and when I met the love my life/best friend forever 7 years ago, I thought he was it. And for the time being, he was it. He helped me and supported me through things that I never saw coming…as he showed me that he loved me more than I could have ever loved myself…and more than I could have ever loved him back.
Is there still something missing in my life? I want to say, “No.” But yet, I am still moving. Still taking on obstacles and evolving with the change in times, in people, in cultures. I am still taking on hurdles that would make most people dizzy. I almost hate to tell my story, because I fear that most people would think one of a few things…that I’m lying…that I am exaggerating, or that I am trying to be more than or seem better than someone else. That all might sound crazy to you, but I never want to sound like a showoff. I don’t think that I am better than anyone, maybe just more daring and when asked why I do these things, my answer has always been, “Because I can.”
My memories will be of the people who I fell in love with while being here…the friends who I love so deeply it hurts…the ones I know I will be able to reach out to forever…the families I see sweating each day to put food on their table…the blue sky and sun that welcomed me every morning…and the clear blue water of the Caribbean that got me here to begin with! The system I learned about and then learned how to beat is no bigger or meaner than the system I had in NYC…it was just stacked against me here because I am an American. Though I still beat it anyway.
So if I am ever asked, “Why did you give everything up in NYC just to live in another country for 8 years, only to come back? Was it because you had something to prove?” I will have to say, “I did it because I could!”