I have fallen in love: truly, madly, deeply.
Four months since we were introduced in person, and what an intoxicating time it has been. We have come to know each other’s most publicised perks and darkest secrets. My love brings out the best in me: I am a happier and more relaxed person, and everybody I care about is supportive, and relieved, to see me in a blossoming, fruitful relationship.
Our time together is a perfectly heady mix of shared experiences, lessons learned, and challenges overcome; all of the romance a girl could desire, plenty of adventure, and a little bit of danger too. As time goes on, my feelings only intensify. We worked through those tricky initial stages full of doubts and difficulties, where our commitment was tested. In true cliché fashion, we came out stronger. I know the path ahead will be far from a doddle, but we understand our differences and endeavour to embrace our flaws: we are a team now.
It’s not the kind of love of family, friends and homeland that develops naturally and gradually over time, but an altogether more intense and passionate affair. Rationality and logical thinking out of the window: this love is all-consuming. It is gentle and kind, but also relentlessly demands my attention in every waking moment. There is no getting away from it, no time spent apart: for now, this is all there is. And as is the way with true love, at some point the conscious decision is made to push the fear aside and stop fighting it. One hopes it can last forever, but awareness of potential heartbreak lurks in the depths of cognition. Who knows what the future holds? What is there to do but let go of expectations and enjoy the moment in its entirety?
In conversation I find myself defending my native England like a loyal old friend slightly jealous of my newfound romance. Mexico, I have fallen hopelessly and dangerously in love with you. Go easy on me, please.
Before I left England I was feeling fed up and frustrated. After what had been a deeply traumatic year, I was ok, but I was coasting. I was not fulfilling any of my heart’s desires. And more than anything I had this profound sense that I owed something – to myself, to the people who care about me, and in an admittedly airy-fairy sense, to the wider world. I had a life so precious and brimming with opportunity, but time was passing, and the niggling sense that I was wasting it was slowly but surely chipping away at my conscience. Without really realising it at the time, only something dramatic could have turned that around: time makes sense of many things.
So here I am in Mexico: probably the only decision I have ever made completely for myself. A great big leap of faith into the unknown. Of course I knew it would be an adventure, but I could not have foreseen the ways it would affect me emotionally. I’m an emotional person. I know this. Everybody I know knows this. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, a bit of both I suppose. And of course I can’t compare myself with anybody else. Do I feel things deeper? I can’t say – I only know that I feel things deeply. Or perhaps I don’t feel things any more but just scrutinise obsessively, a kind of OCD of the heart. Either way, as much as it makes pain excruciating, it also means that I feel happiness like euphoria. That can’t be a bad thing.
There are not words to express the love that I feel in Mexico. From so many angles. I came here to help children, but now I feel a tiny bit guilty as it has become apparent that they help me much more than I could have hoped or imagined. Every day their easy joy fills my soul; their beaming little faces and the appreciation they show me means more to me than they will ever know. The bond we have made in these past few months is one that the many teachers I know will empathise with. It’s incredibly special: they, like every breathing child on this planet, are absolute treasures to this world.
There is also the love I feel from Mexico the nation, and its biggest asset – its people. I won’t go on about this as I have done a lot of gushing already, but it makes me so sad to think that foreigners in England might not get as warm a reception. We have this astounding sense of national superiority, and what shocked me most is that a lot of Mexicans seem to have it too. They hold the United Kingdom in incredibly high esteem, and just because I’m from there, me too. It has made me feel shocked and even uncomfortable at times. Sure, I’m proud to be British, but I don’t assume that it allows me to hold myself in higher regard than anybody else. The young Mexicans I meet are incredibly talented, spirited and ambitious; they pursue a wide range of interests and have a great thirst to learn. I think the superiority complex of Britons has caused a complacency epidemic, and a nation of moaners, and that is a great shame. (That’s why I’m so happy to be here on an inter-cultural exchange programme, and I will write in more depth on that another time.)
Friendships that have been established here scare me. They’re more than friendships because I’m away from everything I know and love, and I depend on them for everything. Leaving England was easy because I knew I’d be going home. Leaving Mexico won’t be as straightforward.
But more than anything, is the love I feel towards the people I already loved, at home. I use the word ‘love’ far too much, but I can’t say I abuse it because I really mean it. I use it every day, in contact with the ones I hold dear who are so far away, but I honestly feel it now, despite the distance, more than ever. Just thinking about how much I value these people for a moment too long brings me to tears. When I left England I had nothing to lose, now it’s almost like I have too much to live for. With all the love here and all the love there it’s sometimes a bit overwhelming to comprehend, and my heart is absolutely bursting.
The photo above was taken by my dear friend Georgina Piper. You can see more of her wonderful work here:
The quote is from one of my favourite songs, Nature Boy, which chronicles “a strange enchanted boy…who wandered very far” only to discover that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”