When I was in Texas having an interview at the Mexican Consulate in order to obtain a work visa, I was asked some very pointed questions. Upon my return to Guadalajara, I decided to retreat to my favorite place, Parque Mirador, where I often go to contemplate life. I felt the need to ponder these questions further.
I arrived in Culiacan on Day of the Dead, November 2, 2010 after about eighteen hours of travel through five airports. The temperature was in the high 30’s celsius and the humidity was overwhelming. My house was not air-conditioned but thankfully there was a unit in my bedroom. My mantra: “You can do this Karen. It’s only for eight months!”
It is now almost four years later and I live in Guadalajara. My life is simple here. I teach, I write, I study Spanish and I travel. There are no rigid schedules to adhere to and the fast pace of life in Canada is behind me. I enjoy my relatively stress-free lifestyle immensely, although it is not by any means completely carefree.
So how did an eight month commitment become a multiple year adventure? Indeed I now find myself in a position where I am considering permanent residency here.
I miss my children. I miss seeing their faces. I miss sharing meals with them. I miss their pets. Occasionally I do hear a voice on the phone, although way too many times it’s merely a voicemail message. I feel like I am missing out on so much by not being there with them. And they have no real idea of what my life is like here in Mexico as they are reluctant to come and visit. I highly doubt that they even read my blog as it is never mentioned in our infrequent conversations.
A few times this past winter I texted my kids, concerned for their safety with all the inclement weather. Their reaction was the usual “You worry too much”. But that has always been my job as a mother. No. Wait a minute. It was never just a job. It was my life! And it still is, although my children are adults in their 30’s and I live thousands of miles away in another country.
Every day I see families together wherever I go. They enjoy picnics in parks, go to movies, go out for ice cream and go on vacations together. A flood of memories wash over me as I remember these special times with my own children. And I long to go back in time and linger for one or two minutes more in Disney World or Rawhide. Yes, I even now treasure sitting in the Minneapolis airport for hours on end during flight delays listening to Alf tell stories and buying my daughter endless cups of hot chocolate at Caribou Coffee.
My daughter is engaged and is planning to get married next year. I recall the many conversations my mother and I had planning my wedding and it saddens me that this will not be an experience I will share with my own daughter. It hurts that I will not be with her when she shops for a wedding gown or chooses invitations. In fact, by the time the wedding rolls around, it will have been more than two years since I have last seen her.
Just as I have had to accept this situation and so many others regarding my family, I question if my children have accepted my decision to remain in Mexico. It has never really been a topic of conversation for us. And I often wonder why we discuss the most trivial things while the appropriate words are never spoken about the more important things in our lives.
Communication. Do we ever truly express our feelings and concerns to others on a regular basis as we should? Or do we tiptoe around in an attempt to shelter and protect others from uncomfortable and perhaps awkward situations in our lives? And how does this affect our relationships? These are just some of the thoughts racing through my mind as I gaze out at the canyon.
Reflection and meditation. The canyon provides a safe haven for me where I can rest in the moment and view my world. For I am forever traveling on a perpetual journey to preserve an inner peace and tranquility in my heart.