Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Enjoy it while I can

It hit me the other day that I have friends here.

Maybe that sounds like a silly revelation, but it really made me stop and think for a while.

We're almost at our halfway mark. We've almost been here for a year and only have a year left, and then we'll be off to who-knows-where, adjusting to a new home, new school, new food, and possibly a new language.

And a piece of my heart will stay here in Juarez. There will be friends that I miss and people who will miss me.

It made me wonder whether I could keep this up.

A month or so ago, we were at a birthday party for a friend we had met at church. Another friend there mentioned how cool she thought it was that Jeff and I were so involved, that we didn't just sit through three hours of church and then go back home, but that we had made friends in our ward (congregation) and that we socialized with them.

It didn't seem like anything special to me. What would be the point of living in Mexico if I never made any Mexican friends?

But then I think about those friends. And leaving them. And making new friends. And leaving them. And making new friends. And leaving them.

I suddenly start to see the appeal in just not making friends at all.


I'm me.

And that doesn't work for me.

So, I'll keep my making and giving each place my all until I have pockets of friends all over the world. People who may say fondly, "Oh, remember Mimi? She would always . . ." or "Remember the Collett family? They did such and such with so and so . . ."

And likewise, I'll remember them, too. And I'll be grateful for the role they played in shaping my experience here.

But saying that that's what I'll do because I'm me doesn't mean that it is easy to do. It isn't easy to open up over and over, knowing the hurt that will come every time I leave and start over again. It's actually harder every time, because I already have so many friends that I love, and I remember very well how much it hurt to leave them and how hard it is to keep in touch.

But happiness is relationships, so onward I'll go.

But not onward yet. I still have thirteen months left in my current home, so I'll settle back in to just enjoying them. There will be time enough to miss Juarez after I'm gone.

Just like I miss what I had and what I could have had in
New York.

In other news, we enjoyed a lot of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Saints' Day festivities a few weeks ago. Depending on whether the party was American or Mexican, my children wore the exact same costume but switched between being regular skeletons or Catrinas/CatrĂ­ns.

I also now have the great memory of . . .

"That one time in Mexico, when the school had a Day of the Dead party that included an All Saints' Day mass. The children had been invited to dress up. Most chose not to. The remainder dressed up like saints or angels. Except for my kids. Mine were dressed up like death. Oh, those embarrassing Americans . . ."

Me: "Who threw that??"
Jill: "Daniel. But only because Alice told him to."
Me: "Well, even if Alice told him to, Daniel is old enough to know not to throw that."
Jill: "But Danny had to throw it. Alice was lecturing him."
Me: "Lecturing? Do you know what lecturing means?"
Jill: "Yes. It is when someone little tells an older person what to do. I learned that on Liv & Maddie."
Me: "That isn't quite right Jill . . ."

Jill: "Let's adopt a baby from China."
Me: "From China?"
Jill: "Yes, a baby from China. Or from Paris."
Me: "Do you know anything about Paris?"
Jill: "Yes!"
Me: "What?"
Jill: "Bonjour!"
Me: "Are you going to adopt these babies?"
Jill: "Mom! I'm too young."


Daniel: "After you grow a new baby inside of you, Gordon can be a big brother and teach the baby everything I teach him."
Me: "Grow a new baby? But, Danny, I think Gordon will be my last baby."
Daniel: "No, but for the next one."
Me: "Sweetie, I don't think there will be a next one."
Daniel: "But I'm teaching Gordon how to be a big brother."
Me: "Gordon will most likely just always be the baby brother."

Daniel: "When your tummy gets fat again, we'll have another baby!"
Me: "Daniel, I don't think we're going to have another baby."
Daniel: "Well, not now, but when your tummy gets fat."
Me: "I hope my tummy doesn't get fat again. Don't you think we have enough babies?"
Daniel: "No."

Daniel: "I made robot humans in my hideout today. The parents always obey the children, because they know the children will cry if they don't get what they need to want."


Every time that I try to brush Alice's hair, we have this conversation.
Me: "Alice, if you just stay still, then this doesn't have to hurt."
Alice: "No! NOOO! No!!! I don't want to look pretty!"
Me: "Alice, I'm not going to do ponytails or anything; I just want to brush the tangles out."
Alice: "NOOOO!!!! I don't want to look pretty! Owww!!"
Me: "Just stay still! This doesn't have to hurt!"
Alice: "No! STOP! I don't want to look like Mommy! I want to look like me!!"


Before moving here, I had never given tumble weed much thought. And if I ever did spare it a thought, it was some fleeting shallow idea that tumble weed existed in old Western movies but were now extinct, because surely everything was too built up now.

Well, then last December, we packed up our car and drove from Virginia to Ohio to Nebraska to Mexico, and I discovered that there is still lots of tumble weed! I really had no idea that it still happened.

This morning, I was driving along the border, and while stopped at a red light, my car was hit by the largest tumble weed I've ever seen. This photo doesn't really do it justice. But seriously. HUGE!

When we drive on this border road, there is an intersection that has a bridge for part of it instead of a stop light. When we are at the top of the bridge, you can see across the dry, cracked river bed and see into El Paso. My kids like to yell, "Howdy, Texas!" Alice's little voice proclaiming "Howdy, Texas!" is pretty sweet.

I spend a lot of time in my car these days, and yesterday I listened to three children argue that his or her mother is his or her mother. They don't seem to realize that they were talking about three different people who all have the same name: "Mommy." First kid: "something something something Mommy something." Second kid: "No, that's my mommy. Not your mommy." Third kid: "I have a mommy." First kid: "No, my mommy." Second kid: "No, that's not your mommy! My mommy." Third kid: "Mommy! My Mommy!" Etc. It is amazing how long they can argue about this. And some of them are quite emotionally involved in the argument.

It's listening to a ten minute argument like that that helps me realize why my brain has essentially melted and is barely capable of the feats it once knew. I honestly don't know if I could still get into college with the mommy brain I have now.

Tell me my brain will come back to me once the sleep deprivation ends.

And then lie to me and tell me my waist line will come back as well once I'm done having babies and breastfeeding.

The other day, I was leading choir practice. And I asked everyone to come up front and pretend like it was Sunday, and they were going to sing. Everyone started laughing. I had no idea why what I said was funny. Later I learned that while the word I used does technically mean "pretend," here is it more often used to mean "fake." So, I can see why it would have been funny for me to tell them to fake that it is Sunday.

Some days I never figure out why what I said or did was funny.

What is really rewarding though is when I'm funny on purpose. Figuring out the humor of a different culture while using a different language is more complicated than you might imagine, and whenever I achieve that, whenever I can get a Mexican to laugh when I was actually trying to be funny, well, that's a very proud moment.