To live here, you have to learn to love it unconditionally. You have to stop trying to accept Mexico and let it accept you instead, or else you’ll never appreciate its beauty.
Back in the summer of 2004, when I was a few years younger and a whole lot sillier, I met and fell head over heels in love with a Mexican while studying Spanish in Mexico. He fell in love with me too, and so began a chaotic year-long struggle to stay that way while I finished my last year of college in California. As our relationship grew, it became quite apparent that our only hope for having any kind of future together meant that I was going to have to move to Mexico as soon as I graduated.
I was frantic and plagued with worry. What was I getting myself into? I had no real support from my family or friends, who wrote it all off as a fleeting summer romance that would soon die down into nothing. What if I was making a huge, colossal mistake? What if it really was just summer love?
Sound familiar? I’m not surprised. Any avid MexConnect reader will recognize the undeniable parallels of my story to the story of Amy Gray Kircaldy, a Mexico Connect writer whose study-abroad-romance turned into marriage with a Mexican. Amy later went AWOL and left us all hanging with our mouths open with the last article of her series, which announced her possible move back to the USA.
I discovered Amy’s column, “Learning to Live in Mexico, or, Just Another Day in Monterrey” in August of 2004, and I thought I’d hit the emotional jackpot. Amy’s column gave me an invaluable reassurance that someone else existed who was as silly as I was and that that silly person couldn’t possibly be that silly if she’d graduated from Harvard. Plus, Amy was two years ahead of me on the path I was about to take, and documenting it all, only to make my life easier!
I read her articles feverishly, nodding my head in solemn confirmation of her thoughts on machismo – an all too familiar characteristic of Mexican men that I was only beginning to understand. I laughed hysterically at Amy’s keen observations of Mexican superstitions – my boyfriend had just refused to allow me ice in my drink just because I had a tiny little cough. I bit my nails nervously when she gave a name to my boyfriend’s mamitis, a serious affliction that he definitely had contracted. I wrote her fan mail, an overly-excited letter that went on for pages and pages and which she never answered. I didn’t mind, as long as she stuck around and kept on writing.
Which she didn’t.
Amy failed to write an article in September. October passed, and still nothing. Then November came, bringing cold weather and rainy afternoons which I spent bringing MexConnect’s internet traffic to a record high in my frenzied search for Amy. Still nothing.
In December, an article finally appeared on the MexConnect website. Ecstatic, I clicked the link, a smile plastered on my face. What did Amy have to say now? I read on, each line like a small gravitational pull that tugged my smile further into a frown and my alert posture into a slump. I read on as Amy shamelessly explained her traitorous plans to move back to the U.S.A. My mentor and Harvard-educated trailblazer had given up.
I remember turning off the computer and staring at a picture that I took of my boyfriend on one of his U.S. visits. He smiled back at me from his seat at a Padres game, his expression giving away his unbridled excitement to be with me. Or did it show off his excitement of being somewhere new? I knew what that felt like. Was love born out of such excitement an illusion and doomed to failure? If Amy was my guiding light through this mess, didn’t her inability to hack it clearly mean that I was sillier than I had ever imagined and that I should give up too?
I chose not to give up, and now, four years later, I am a happily married woman living in the lovely city of Queretaro, Queretaro, Mexico. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve accumulated a treasure chest of information, anecdotes, and observations of my own that I’m willing to pass on to anyone interested. I would never dream of leaving Mexico. I love it here, it’s my home.
I’d still love to read an update from Amy, but I don’t need her anymore. I’m pretty sure she called it quits, anyway – and I don’t blame her. To live here, you have to learn to love it unconditionally, something that I look back and realize that she didn’t really do. You have to stop trying to accept Mexico and let it accept you instead, or else you’ll never appreciate its beauty.
Mexico is not for everyone, and I most certainly would not recommend living here to anyone who isn’t a true idealist, a hopeless romantic, or extremely silly.