How Do I Love Thee?

People often ask me if I like living here. And depending on where they live, and, if they live here, depending on how long they have lived here, they expect a different answer from me.

Usually when people don’t live here, they ask me how I like it with baited breath, fully expecting me to tell them that secretly this place far exceeds their already high expectations of it. These people seem to have a fragile sense of the realities of living here and almost actively want me to confirm the good, and not reveal one single bad thing. I usually treat these people with kid gloves, telling them truthfully that I love it here but not all the time, and not revealing anything that is not already obvious.

When I meet people who have just moved here they naturally ask me if I like it here. And depending on their own reasons for coming here, and depending on their own socio-economic realities, they are expecting different answers from me. When people come here with money, and do not need to make a living in this economy, they can get quite comfortable relatively quickly. In fact these people are not all that likely to ask if I like it here, because they do, and they are content with the choice they have already made.

But when someone comes here needing to earn a living they are forced to look this economy in the eye, and to recognize the realities that others do not have to face. When these people ask me if I like living here I am honest, but always couch my answers in the form of gentle advice, I do my best to help them find comfort here, I try to help them adjust.

Then there are the people who have lived here for a while, several years at least, long enough to adjust. And when these people ask me if I like living here there is no fudging, there are no games, I don’t worry about what I say, I simply speak the truth to them.

And that truth changes daily.

But most of the time I say good things, I think.

When I bitch it’s about the mafias and the corruption, it’s about the greed of the politicians and how they can’t fix the potholes in the roads or teach people not to litter. I complain about the inefficiency in the way businesses are run here, and the inefficiency inherent in the way many Mexicans think. I complain about the lack of any kind of real culture here. I complain about the stress my husband’s job puts on him. And the lack of mountains.

But the things that are right here are deep important things, things that haven’t ever been right in my life before. And those things involve the peace of owning a house out-right and living debt-free. And the friendships I’ve developed here are deep, important, life-long, close ones. And I’ve learned to be patient, to wait for and prepare for, and appreciate the things I want. And I’ve learned to set long-term goals and work toward them slowly. And I think most importantly I’ve learned that life isn’t supposed to be perfect and that I shouldn’t pressure myself to get it all right all the time.

I think in a fundamental way this place has taught me how to be happy. When I came here things were wrong. There was much to fix, much work to do to achieve any sense of accomplishment or contentment. But we’ve done that work, we’ve met goals, we are working towards others. And for myself I think I’ve stopped hanging on so tightly to perfection and I’ve learned how to just let it be ok to be happy.

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5 Responses to “How Do I Love Thee?”

  1. stephenj2585
    April 12th, 2007 11:57

    that is powerful, Rivergirl. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Steve in Auburn, GA

  2. RiverGirl
    April 13th, 2007 09:36

    Stephen – As always I appreciate your comments. And I’m glad you get something from what I write.


  3. mcyclops
    April 19th, 2007 10:46

    About the “inefficiency inherent in the way many Mexicans think”, I think this comment is inappropriate since it reflects the difference the way you think as a foreign and the Mexicans think. I had the same impression of Anglos in Toronto, but I understand the difference in backgrounds. Example, I went to the market to buy ham, the price is per 100 grams (which for me is quite foolish), but then when I asked for half kilogram they answer me “we don’t sell in kilograms, we sell in grams”. At the time, that comment seems to come from a shut-down brain, then I finally understand that some people are still used to think in ounces and pounds and aren’t really used to the metric system (which is the norm in Canada since the 70s). Same think happens and will happen to all people who are extracted from a culture and go to live in another one. About the corruption and the idiocy of authorities, especially those in Quintana Roo, I can’t agree more.

  4. RiverGirl
    April 19th, 2007 15:34

    mcyclops – Perhaps I should not speak so bluntly, it seems to bother people. But being married to a Mexican and having many, many close friends who are also married to Mexicans I see a pattern in thinking which does sometimes seem inefficient to me. I mean no disrespect. And it’s obviously a cultural difference which without growing up here I don’t think I’ll ever “get” fully.

  5. mcyclops
    April 24th, 2007 14:13

    I am married to a quebecois! Talking about cultural differences!!! 🙂

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