The Problem with Mexico

I can’t quite put Mexico into words.

It’s hard. I want to blame the heat for everything. For my poor decision making. For my irrational meltdowns. For the way I treat myself when I feel lonely.

But it’s not the heat. The sun has been glorious and my skin is pink. The breeze in the evening wraps me up and I feel trapped and free at the same time.

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No, the problem with Mexico is the way I refuse to sit with my loneliness sometimes. It’s how I keep myself busy and distracted from the important shit because I don’t quite know how to solve it all yet.

The problem with Mexico is that the sticky nights spent sitting on smoky patios with new friends are making me question what I actually want in life and I don’t like that because I can’t figure out how to have what I want.

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I can’t figure out how to have a home. How to have friends that I can stay near. How to travel and move. How to be free and settled at the same time.

I met a new friend here in Cancun. He’s tall and he speaks with a typical New York accent and we’ve been spending our evenings getting our words out and having our thoughts witnessed.

“It would just be so nice to have a big ass kitchen,” he tells me one night.

A kitchen. That’s it. It’s so simple but something broke in me a bit when he said that.

My God. A kitchen. How nice. How safe and cozy. How still.

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I didn’t know how much I wanted to let myself think about having a kitchen until this new friend let his words slip out for the both of us.

And what I learned while I sat there with this new friend in a land foreign to both of us, is that I also might want a bookshelf. I might want it full of books and maybe my journals could be on display so my words would be close when I need them.

I might want to have a brightly dyed carpet on my floor from the market I took myself to the other day, to see if that would keep my feelings from coming for a few hours.

A bed with too many pillows would be nice.

The problem with Mexico is that it’s making me realize that I refuse to let myself want things.

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You don’t need to already know how to get something in order to let yourself want it, is what I write in my notebook that night.

The problem with Mexico is that I am learning that I need to forgive myself for wanting things.

***

This friend and I, we head out for dinner and over drunken conversations and too much tequila, he says, “I think happiness is just moments.”

I know instantly why we met. How this friendship happened.

The problem with Mexico is that my thinking is being challenged at every turn. It’s being challenged each sweltering morning, and every sticky late night sitting on a patio smelling of cigarettes and need.

Happiness is just moments.

And I think I believe him. It’s not a baseline level to reach and maintain and then if you feel anything different, you aren’t happy anymore. Maybe that’s how I’ve been treating my happiness lately. One slip up, one bad day and it negates all the good feelings I’ve ever had.

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What I’m learning is this:

You can feel sad and still have happy moments.

You can miss people and still have happy moments.

You can be in a random city in Mexico and feel lonely as fuck and questioning all your choices and still have moments of absolute bliss.

Happiness is just moments. Not a level to maintain.

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The problem with Mexico is that sitting under the sun is making me realize that I’ve been appreciating what I have as a way to make it stay. To make it all last. I should appreciate these days because they will come again, and I’ll deserve the happiness each time, not the opposite.

***

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I message my sister on one particularly hard day. I had already gone through the check list in my mind of the things that usually ‘work’ for me when I feel low.

Take yourself outside. Go someplace familiar. Find a coffee shop, order the most basic normal drink and then sit. Look for the color. Walk around and take photos. See what your eye is attracted to. Get lost. Sit still. I tried it all.

It all worked until it didn’t.

So I turned to my wise little sister.

“I think I miss traveling with people and I didn’t even realize.”

“Of course you do. We are always changing. It’s normal.”

I don’t know when our roles reversed and when she became the wise older sister and me the one constantly needing advice, but I’m glad she’s there.

We are always changing. It’s normal.

The problem with Mexico is that the rainy hot afternoon showers are showing me that I’m changing. And now I need to catch up to myself.

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***

I’ve spent 8 days in the sun. I have felt the highs of tropical heat, new languages, lovely dates and too much tequila. I’ve also felt the lows of creeping loneliness and then full blown panic. Of wandering new streets and then realizing you aren’t in the safest neighborhood and it’s getting dark. Of language barriers and angry men.

The problem with Mexico is that I can’t stay mad at it. Being here has challenged me and opened me and now I have to forgive myself for my wants and accept my own changes.

So maybe, the problem with Mexico is that there is no problem at all.

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