It has been a year since returning from Mexico. It seems impossible that time has flown that fast and yet it is almost frightening how different my life is now in comparison. Every day since my return has been an internal struggle between being glad and grateful about where I am now and also missing life in Mexico.
Mexico shaped and humbled me in ways I never predicted it would. I fell into a new dependence on other people there. I fell into a new way of thinking and understanding the world. At times I fell into deep depressions and confusion about why life can be so cruel. At other times I fell in awe and amazement at how beautiful this life and humankind can be. And I even fell in love.
The falling lent me a new perspective. A new point of view. I began to think… maybe it isn’t so bad to lean on other people when you feel you can’t do it alone. Maybe asking for help is not a weakness after all, but rather, simply knowing your limits and being in-touch with your needs. Perhaps admitting that you are lost is the first step in finding yourself. It was for me. I have been finding myself each day since then and will continue to do so every day hereafter.
I learned to lean into discomfort and change. To never stop pushing new limits that I once believed were daunting me.
I remember the fear I had going to Mexico- the fear of failing, the fear of not making it there, the fear of being rejected, the fear of not being able to navigate myself, the fear of vulnerability.. And I remember the fear I had leaving Mexico- the fear of never feeling the same, the fear of having to re-adjust to an individualistic society, the fear of facing my privilege, the fear of my vulnerability not being understood or accepted again in a society that doesn’t allow for open sharing of insecurity…
I think about Mexico every single day. Sometimes I wake up feeling sad or nostalgic without the right words to express why. And sometimes it slyly creeps up on me when I smell the floor cleaner fabuloso or car exhaust or catch the scent of someone’s familiar perfume or cologne and, in those moments, I am sent reeling back to Mexico in my mind. The memories cut sharp and deep and my heart twinges.
Now today, I am working in immigration law. And I know that I would not be here if it weren’t for every person that touched my life in Mexico. Every story that I heard, every smile that was bestowed, every embrace that was shared, every comida eaten together- brought me to here. Every person became a vision and a memory of Mexico. Because Mexico is not a problem that our country needs to block out with a wall- Mexico is a beautiful country with real and true life that needs our love and understanding. I don’t know how to express that enough to people here. I don’t know how to combat the misunderstanding and lack of empathy I encounter and hear on a daily basis… Sometimes I numb myself to just not listen at all. And other times I talk back with a story. People love to talk about statistics and money, but when they are faced head-on with a real-life story, they lose their composure of argument about all of those statistics. Because these people aren’t numbers. Take another look. They are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents, and lovers.
The same men who build your homes- you tell them they have no home here.
The same women that care for your houses and children- you tell them they should not have houses and children here.
The same country you go to for your vacations at resorts and beaches- you view as a problem to keep out of your country.
You use their homeland as a place to dump your factories for cheap labor and pollution but when they get fed up you tell them to go back from where they came from.
You need them but you don’t want them.
These are the things that I see from too many. It is convicting and it is wrong.
I can’t forget Mexico. I cannot, myself, change Mexico or its corrupt government. I can’t change people’s minds about how they view immigration or immigrant populations. But I can stand with them. I can remember the stories shared with me everyday. I can hold them as sacred and beloved children of God who are a vulnerable population in need of compassion and empathy.
So here I am. One year later. And I am here because each relationship I had in Mexico taught me that I am loved. As I am. Vulnerable and lost. And I won’t stop fighting for them to be able to feel the same.