I am currently crossing the Atlantic in the seat 25J of a big-ass plane. After 11 months of residing in European lands, I will be visiting, for a short period of time, what was for 25 years the place I called ‘home’, I am going to Monterrey.
I’m a mix of nervousness, excitement, and desperation. I daydreamed about this moment plenty of time while being away, and I’m about to find out if the real script is going to develop as it did in my brain’s play.
Being abroad, meeting people from all across the world, and them asking you about your home country, (specially while being a Mexican because BOY, are people curious about what the fuck has happened and continues to happen in that land!, after they ask, of course, what I think of Donald Trump), really exposes to your own self the relation you have to it.
Sure, I’ve hated the political establishment ever since I have memory. Sure, it gets warm as hell, traffic on the afternoon sucks, people are hopelessly Catholic, which makes conservatism highly prevalent. But when people ask me about it, I found myself praising it. I find myself in solidarity with all Mexicans, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. I attempt to give a fair historical and philosophical account of our political and cultural issues. But all these conversations derive from a very deep sense of pride.
All these conversations induce me to revisit, afterward, and with myself, all these inner feelings. I find myself disappointed about our generations’ failure of bringing the political establishment down, but I found myself hopeful about the momentum of many social movements, including those defending LGBTQ+ rights, feminism and the invisibility of indigenous communities. On perhaps more superfluous angles, I find myself to be a big fan of music in Spanish, of dishes I once took for granted, and of Mexican artists I once underestimated. Though I’ve always felt lucky and happy about being Mexican, I never realized how strongly Mexican Patyt could sound, act, and feel towards its place of birth.
However strong that link to Mexico could outburst when I was speaking about it, or on those late-night missing it all by myself, I have never felt any regret of leaving. Being far away, I must hold on to all those things that made me decide on leaving in the first place. Living abroad is, however snobbish and coming from a position of privilege it sounds, a self-discovering experience that one cannot get from within the country. To quote a goodDutch friend (and to honor Dutch’s obsession with cycling) ‘You gotta get off the bike’ to look at it from a different perspective. While you are riding it, you keep yourself busy pedaling, not losing balance, looking ahead. But during those actions you miss from sight the back wheel, you miss most parts of the bike’s frame. Once you stop and take a step back, that bike looks to you entirely different. Mexico was my bike for 25 years, and I was so busy peddling on it, that I couldn’t help but miss a lot of stuff from it.
And now, for the last year, I can see I’ve been in most stages of one’s relationship to her/his hometown: 1) sick of the sight of it, 2) excited about getting out of it, 3) enjoying being far away from it, 4) hopelessly missing it, 5) looking very much forward to visiting it, 6) desperately waiting to fucking get there already.
But what about being back and finding out how one will feel about it? How will I describe stage 7? See, I’ve never been back ‘home’ after building a life for myself while being out of it. After all those conversations, after all those careful considerations on politics, culture, on life in Mexico. See, I’ve never seen ‘home’ through that particular lens. And I’m both excited and scared to find out. What if through stages 4 and 5 I just built in my head a silly infatuation out of it? What if Mexico is, in the end, really not that great? On the contrary, what if through this new perspective I fall in love with this feeling, and I don’t ever want to leave again? It could be, as well, that I am just incapable of describing in advance how I will feel because never before have I been in that situation. While I am most certain that I will enjoy the company of people I haven’t seen in ages, I am not certain of how will ‘I’ feel in relation to this particular place. Because I get oversensitive about nearly every new situation, I can’t wait to find out how getting off the last plane will make me feel.
On top of that, I’m not settling there. After some days of enjoying myself around great company, great food, and the BEST craft beer in the entire globe (oh, yes I said it), I will go back to the Netherlands to continue that student routine I’ve grown so fond of. That is enough for me to feel like I’m going ‘home’ as a tourist.
I cannot exempt myself from writing ‘home’ between quotation marks, this whole thought debacle has left me wondering what the fuck is home, what is the relation I should have with it, if any. But I, however, will not attempt to answer such queries in this post. I just wanted to write these thoughts down so I could compare the actual outcome against all my expectations, and because somehow people do seem to enjoy all these gibberish coming out of my brain, a thing I sincerely appreciate.
The plane gets closer and closer to America, and the hour on the clock, slowly, but steadily increases. By the time I write the next post, I will most likely have words to fill in the stage 7 of one’s relationship to her/his hometown.