Monday, May 10, 2010


People often ask what language we speak at home, and then don't understand when I tell them its English.  They give me a look like I'm the most foolish person in the world.  For awhile I didn't really know why we speak English.  We tried in the beginning to always speak Spanish, but it would never stick. One day I really thought about why we speak English at home, and for me the reason is perfectly understandable.

Since last October we have been facing the fact that our life has changed drastically.  It wasn't something that we were prepared for, chose, or wanted.  The hardest part was living in a foreign country that we had never been to without the option of coming home when we wanted.  We had so many goals and dreams in the U.S., and some, like graduating from college, were just about to happen.  Then, we were told we had to wait three years and our dreams had to wait three years too.

The life we had and wanted was in the U.S., and options in Mexico didn't allow us to recreate that life here.  Our family, friends, work, school, and culture were all left behind, and in Mexico we found ourselves with very little. We became lonely, depressed, angry, and sad.

In December we were happy to get our own apartment, although it was in a bad area and very basic (you may remember the no-hot-water-ever issue or the hassle of no indoor sink). We worked hard to fix it up and set it up nicely, but it didn't feel like home at all.  We spent most of our time inside because the neighborhood was so bad and it always felt like we were just waiting.  Waiting for things to get better, waiting for the three years to pass so we could go back to the U.S.  Time passed so slowly.

What we longed for more than anything was to be home with our families.  We dreamed of our blue bedroom, the cozy livingroom, and family dinners.  While stuck in the apartment, we remembered strolling through beautiful and safe Healdsburg and seeing all the familiar sights.  We wanted a sense of home but coudn't get it.

Speaking English was the only thing that was like home.  In the United States we spoke English with each other and most of our family. When we spoke English in our apartment in Mexico, it was like a little piece of home. Inside our walls we were protected by everything that was outside and English helped us forget we where we were.  We listened to English music, watched English TV, read English books, and always spoke in English. With so much English surrounding us it was easier to feel at home and take a break from all the sadness and shock that filled us.  I'm sure the comfort of hearing one's native language can never be truly understood until the sense of home is taken and longed for.

I know living in Mexico is a great way to learn Spanish and people think we are giving up a great opportunity.  If we had chosen to live here and were excited about it, I'm sure that we would try to speak Spanish at home and learn everything we could.  We aren't that situation, though, and we have had more important things to learn than Spanish, such as moving on from our losses, building a life, and finding happiness. I'm sure that as things get better, Spanish will be spoken more, but until then I am perfectly happy speaking English in Mexico.


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