Why do I live here?
We have all asked ourselves this question from time to time (sometimes several times in the same day…) A succinct explanation is even more difficult to provide when it has been requested by someone who has no experience with “living abroad.”
Lately, a few new followers of “Writing From Merida” have e-mailed me with this query; today I’ll attempt to compose a reply for them (and myself!)
I suppose that those of us who have chosen to live in Mexico were missing something where we came from. (I already hear a few protests but bear with me…) Most probably the lack we felt had little to do with the place we were living, and lots to do with the people we are. Maybe we need to think we’re different from our peers or at least appear to be more adventurous. Are we incurable romantics, and do we still retain some of that 60s idealism? Perhaps we think that living away from the countries of our birth makes some kind of individualistic “statement”? Or do we… flat out, simply love Mexico?
Does living in a different place satisfy our cultural inquisitiveness? Some of us have a mental image of ourselves as heartfelt (albeit untrained) sociologists, or anthropologists, or historians, or archaeologists? Painters or even, (yea gads!) writers?
Does living amongst people who have retained a sense of belonging to a place help us to feel likewise? Does osmosis occur when we put ourselves in close proximity to those who have the ability to feel intense joy, even in the face of dire need? Does the “ni modos”; “mey”; “¿Y que?” (What the Hell?) attitude strike a chord in us?
And do we admire traits like steadfast resilience, calm composure, quiet defiance and unshakable faith?
Or is it that we like the sun; feeling less structure; living with decreased social pressure; having help around the house and the ability to stretch the retirement check? Do we like the reality that familial responsibilities lie too far away to cause daily stress? Do we cherish the fact that we’re removed from a lot of mundane concerns?
So far I’ve answered no questions; in fact I’ve put more on the table…
What about my personal circumstances? I arrived in Merida nearly 35 years ago… with stars in my eyes. I was totally in love with the idea of “leaving it all for the man of my dreams.” That was naivety in the extreme but ¡Gracias a Dios! it worked out for me; I’ve met many along the way who did not share my luck.
Now on to… “la neta” (Let’s crack open the proverbial nutshell!) In my humble opinion, we live here because this is precisely what we want to do. We don’t desire going through the paces and allowing one day to sullenly stretch into the next. We want to feel we are somehow masters or mistresses of our own destiny. Living away from the familiar world allows us the freedom to do this. In a sense we can re-invent ourselves.
Is this a bad thing? Is this running away? Is this being irresponsible? I don’t think so. We tread a fine line but we don’t have to cross it; we can live far away from “home” and still be caring children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends – and yes, grandmas…
Many years ago my sister was visiting me. It was January and we went for a walk along the beach. You know how the wind can blow during a “norte”… it was hard going I tell you. But it was a gorgeous day! Wise Barbara turned to me and said, “Joanna, this day is like your life – not always easy but absolutely breath-taking!” I had to agree. Later she told me, “Our whole family has been enriched because you live in Mexico. We get to visit you, enjoy your world and learn!”
On that day, I feel my sister paid me one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. I adore the fact that she feels that way.
Sometimes I find it hard to be away from her and other loved ones. I miss my “true north, strong and free” and I do wallow in nostalgia on a fairly frequent basis. But I pay out willingly (most days…) To summarize (I believe that’s what one should do at the end of an essay… or is this more of a discourse, a diatribe or a rant…)
We live here because we want to. It suits us for one reason… or another… or many.