Recently Dave and I have been rereading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis with a group of friends from our workplace. This is one of my all time favorite books. I think this is the fourth time I have read it. It seems no matter how many times I read it I glean something new from it each time. The last time I read it I was not yet a parent and this time I find myself drawn to and excited by the passages related to the love between a parent and a child, in ways I never would have understood before. In addition, the passages about love for country and patriotism have a whole new meaning for me now that we are living as expatriates. As a middle class American, living in America, I rarely thought deeply about my own love for my country. It was simply where I was. Yes, it was good and admirable, but in the grand scheme of things I spent very little time thinking about what made it unique and worthy of my affection.
Time in Mexico has changed this. I will be honest, for a long time I was less than affectionate toward my new home. Yes, I made the choice to come and yes it provided our family with some great opportunities, but it simply did not feel like home. It, as a whole, was not a place of comfort and belonging.
Affection is an affair of old clothes and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers.
Mexico was still a stranger to me. A foreign land where I was living.
But over time it has grown on me, or maybe I should say that I have grown in it. I have come to call it my own. Even to truly appreciate it and put it on comfortably like old, well-worn clothes.
It is Affection…teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate.
I still have my moments where I do not feel at home – those moments when the language barrier feels like a fortress wall that I will never surmount and a paltry task which would take little thought in the US seems practically impossible. But overall Mexico has become a place I call my own.
As I sat at a Mexican friend’s house this afternoon and savored the depths of flavor of her homemade red and green mole sauces I took a moment to also savor the many ways I have grown affectionate toward Mexico. I know that it will not be the place where my family calls home forever, but I also know that it is a place that has grown deep within me to a place of affection.
I doubt if we ever catch Affection beginning. To become aware of it is to become aware that it has already been going on for some time.
I have come to truly appreciate this place and this stage in our lives. I do not think I will ever know the moment when, in the last 3 years, Mexico became a place of affection for me, but I know that it is now a part of me.