Serving Love: Surrounded by the Comfort of Family.
It has been a while since I’ve written of my romance with a Mexican lover, who does not speak my language.
We have certainly explored love through many cultural conditions and each time we have managed to return to our original intention, to love each other not because the other deserves or acts in a way that fulfills our expectations and perceptions. We have committed to love as a state of being we both know we can connect to because it is the true source of who we are.
This is the state of being we have the potential to reflect to each other through this relationship.
In our four years, this has not always been a piece of cake/padazo de pastel. Sometimes it has taken months of no communication to again reconnect with our mutual desire to evolve. As we try our hardest to go our separate ways, our hearts and minds fill us both with the longing to honor our profound connection. And our advancing ages push us forward to get on with it!
We originally agreed to a no drama relationship. No and Drama are the same in both languages. Yet there has been dramas — external dramas of work, family, and COVID-19 have driven us closer at times and pushed us apart at other times.
The latest and greatest growth challenge has come this past month: a COVID-19 related job loss for him brought many deeply rooted issues to the surface. His 10-year loyalty to an employer who could not pay him long-awaited severance pay and no hope of future work brought on severe mental and physical challenges.
He developed similar COVID-19-like symptoms and his entire family (yes, he is married) moved to another family compound, leaving him alone with only his dog to tough it out.
There was little I could offer in the way of help. Our worlds keep us at a distance, which is helpful in many ways to integrate our daily experiences. We do not become enmeshed in the dramas of each other’s daily lives. Each of us must handle what is our grist for the mill.
But after his illness went, I decided to suggest a journey together back to his original family. When he regained his stamina, we set off for the 18-hour drive, and after collecting his parents, we arrived in the remote Mexican town his mother’s family lived. It was a very unusual town where gringos just don’t go. None of his large extended family spoke English or had ever even had any close contact with a gringa.
I knew they would judge all foreigners based on our interaction. Everyone spoke Spanish, but also an ancient language known to that region called Zapotec. We took up residence in a large cinder block concrete house occupied on different levels by 10 family members. We were provided hammocks and one private room with a cold shower and toilet.
There was a large outdoor covered area for cooking that provided the social center for convivio and meals.
This ancient town has a matriarchal structure and women wear traditional clothing from the state of Oaxaca. Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican artist, wore this hand-embroidered clothing in support of this matriarchal way of life.
I watched in amazement as the matriarchs, like his mother, were dutifully honored within the daily family structure. Shopping daily in the street markets, the matriarch is followed by the male members of the family who vie for position to pay and carry her choices. The children also serve the group by vigilantly providing physical support to the elder women.
We shop as a group in crowded aisles, and where the mother stops, we gather around her, patiently awaiting to assist.
This is a world I have never imagined. I am glimpsing what the future could look like as small groups support each other daily in obtaining communal needs. I am most amazed at the genuine sense of solidarity. I feel loved and supported within this and the larger community.
Daily, the communal area hosts women embroidering, cooking, quiet discussions, children playing, cats basking in the sun, and various bodies swinging in hammocks. Evenings, after the men clean up, there are quiet discussions that last long into the night. Here everyone is listened to just for the sake of being heard. No one is emotional, angry or upset, but issues, of course, are grand concerns.
Often I hear the words No work, no money.
Our last night in the compound, a large Bluetooth speaker shows up and a case of Mexican beer and magically a party/fiesta is happening.
I put on African music and one of my lover’s very drunk cousin’s dances with me. There is a large amount of belly-shaking, chest shimmies, and sexual innuendos. The family is in stitches and videos are documenting the entire sordid affair for my lover, who is passed out on the concrete floor.
He is a nondrinker by nature, and it takes four of his male relative to assist him down treacherous stairs to our room and safely in his hammock.
Upon our departure, I am gifted a traditional embroidered blouse and some beautiful jewelry, the children bring drawings and repeat the English words they asked me to teach them. My lover seems renewed, surrounded in the comfort, love, and joy of his family. It is a gift of hope for us both.
Love as a state of being has been renewed, and we are whole once more.
Mariosa is a performing artist who lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. You could contact her at Danza Vida.