I was 12 when I went to Mexico for the first time-just across the border to Piedras Negras. I went again when I was 13, further inland this time, to Tampico. I liked both of those trips very much, but it wasn’t until I was 14 and in Tampico again that Mexico stole my heart. I can’t really pinpoint how or why, I just knew Mexico was a place I wanted to be more than anywhere else in the world.
When I came back from that trip, I became obsessed with all things Mexican and anything related to the Spanish language. I started listening to Spanish radio stations, buying Mexican soap operas on DVD, bought a Spanish Bible, etc. I think my friends and family thought I was a little crazy, but I didn’t care-I was in love.
I went to Mexico again when I was 15, 17, and 18, and each trip, I fell more in love. I finished high school and started college. That gave me the opportunity to go to several further destinations-the Philippines, Egypt, Cambodia, Peru, China, and around Europe. I always expected one of the new places to steal my heart like Mexico had, but none ever did. There was a moment at each destination that I realized: “This place is nice, but it’s not Mexico.”
At the end of 2011, I decided to move to Ireland for a year. I think if I hadn’t gone to Ireland, I would have gone to Mexico, but I really wanted to spend more time in Europe at that time. I remember thinking before I left that I wanted to be able to keep up my Spanish in Ireland, even though I knew that was a far-fetched possibility.
Except that it wasn’t. Two days into my Ireland stay, I went to a pub in Dublin and saw the most handsome guy. He was so handsome, I decided to smile at him (for the record, he also looked sweet, and wasn’t drunk or creepily looking at girls; I just really had the feeling that he was worth knowing, which is why I smiled). After about 6 smiles from me, he walked over to me and asked me where I was from. Texas, I said. He looked shocked, because he was from the Mexican state of Coahuila, which happens to border Texas. We talked the whole night.
Because I had just arrived in Dublin and he had been there for a year already, I became a part of his world. His world meant Mexican friends, Mexican food, Mexican parties, and Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. The more I fell in love with him, the more I remembered my love for Mexico, and it only made me love him more. (I absolutely did not fall in love with him just because he is Mexican, but I had a general understanding of that part of him rather than thinking it was strange or annoying that he had a different culture and way of doing things.)
When I first started to tell some of my friends back home in Texas that I had a boyfriend, they naturally guessed he was Irish. When I told them, no, actually he was Mexican, more than one responded, “You have loved Mexico forever. Only you would go to Ireland and meet a Mexican boyfriend.” I thought about that a lot. How meeting him meant I was reintroduced to Mexico, reintroduced to the most loving, warm, generous people I have ever met. I had loved Mexico forever, and he reminded me of that. I knew that if for no other reason, that was why I was supposed to go to Ireland.
Ten months came and went, and I went back to the U.S. Even though I was itching to travel again, to be in the same place as him, I knew that I was supposed to be in the U.S. for a while. I got a normal job and integrated myself as best as I could.
I visited him for the first time in January of this year-it was my first time in Mexico in 6 years. It still held the same magic. Actually, it held more, because this time I was experiencing it with him. It was no longer just Mexico, it was his country.
My jobs in the U.S. didn’t work out. I left one for another, and the new one wasn’t what I thought and I needed to leave. I was really bitter. I thought it would be a good job, what I loved to do. I thought I would stay there for a long time. Instead, I found myself unemployed. I decided to take a course to get a certification to teach ESL. The course was cheaper in Mexico than the U.S., so I took it there in June. When I signed up for the course, I had no intention of staying in Mexico or looking for work there afterward. But after those 5 weeks (the first one visiting him, the next 4 taking the course), I knew-that Mexico will always be my favorite place in the world, and that it was finally time for me to try to call it my home.
That brings us to now, the end of July. I am moving to Mexico in a month, to the same city as that Mexican boy I met in Ireland last year. I am looking for a job as an English teacher. I don’t yet have a place to live. But I think those things will all fall in place. I think things with him will fall into place. I’m scared, yes. Mexico has lots of problems. My family doesn’t live in Mexico. Most of my friends don’t live in Mexico. Sometimes I totally blank when I speak Spanish. I really like U.S. conveniences, specifically air-conditioning. But if Mexico has literally not left my head for 10 years, everything will be okay. Things that I thought were coincidences before, I don’t think they actually were. I think it was God preparing me little by little to give me this dream that has been in my heart for 10 years. I am unbelievably thankful. Thankful that whenever the dream faded a bit, God used people or circumstances to remind me of it.
Hasta pronto, Mexico. Tengo muchas ganas de verte!