“You sound like you’re doing really well.”
I get this comment a lot when I talk to people about what life is like in Mexico and how I’m doing with a new family and new job, which is odd because I don’t sugarcoat anything in these conversations. I’m quite honest about the fact that I have gotten lost on public transport twice now and almost cried both times. About how I got stuck on my roof once while hanging laundry and actually did cry. And how sometimes, I just can’t understand what’s going on because of my language barrier. There are days that I come home and I just want to lay in bed and let the exhaustion leave my body in whatever way it deems fit (sleeping, crying, mindlessly staring at the ceiling, etc.). So, the idea that I’m doing really well can seem a bit confusing at times.
But this past weekend, my family took me to see the Cacaxtla Archaeological Site in Tlaxcala. In the 70s, archaeologists discovered and carefully excavated this massive palace that contains beautifully preserved Mayan murals. As I think now about standing in the ruins of this extraordinary place, I remember seeing beautiful new bustling cities in the valleys right next to luscious green landscapes and then also these Mayan paintings from beyond my existence. You see, the 70s weren’t that long ago and yet, this huge piece of history had remained quietly hidden among all these extraordinary things before its discovery. And maybe for the same reason, that’s why I feel like I’m doing well in spite of all the moments of self-doubt and self-critique. For each mistake, there’s an uncovering of growth and beauty too. Yeah, I got lost and came home and had a mini meltdown, but the next day I laughed about it because “centro” and “central” are two very different things and it won’t be a mistake I make twice.
I’m not failing here in Mexico, even when I feel like I am. While the language barrier has been tough on me at work, in a workshop today, I was able to semi-successfully role-play helping a person in crisis. One of the leaders assured me afterwards that despite my limited Spanish, a lot can be accomplished just through body language and using gentle tones. Then I got to put this theory of having a relationship without the right words to the test by trying to figure out what a little 1.5-year-old boy at the shelter wanted from me. We sat and touched the ground with one finger and then tapped fingers together, held hands, got a cup of water, and then we swept the same four-foot by four-foot area for about 20 minutes. We didn’t have an hour-long conversation about String Theory or our deepest fears and joys or the complicated political relationship between Mexico and the US. But I felt like maybe we chipped away just a little bit at this masterpiece inside of me somewhere. A masterpiece that God created with the intent that it be revealed in its own time. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Do I still have an irrational fear that by some freak chance I’m going to live here an entire year and never learn any more Spanish than I currently know? Or that I may never wake up and feel like things are normal again? Yeah, sometimes I do. But often in the same breath, I think about how I eventually got down from my roof intact and the joy I had in touching the ground with a single finger because that’s what my little friend wanted to do. I think about sweet nights after I shower, watching Grey’s Anatomy in Spanish with my family. I am doing pretty well here and I think that maybe those accompanying me on this journey are helping to excavate the good stuff hidden below the surface.
Additionally, I’ve made friends with every dog I’ve met. So obviously, I’m doing well.
Finally, thank you for supporting me in this journey and especially for following this blog! Writing has been an excellent outlet for me so far this year and I simultaneous love and fear sharing some of that with the great wide world. Also, if you’d like to offer some more support you can donate to my fundraising campaign here.