Somewhere, Beyond the Smog

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Mexico City: smog.

Mexico City: land of many buildings lumped together and on top of each other to form a massive urban sprawl.

Mexico City: honking horns and piles of angry traffic.

Mexico City…first impressions do not lie, but they can be awfully misleading.

Remember when I told you I could never ever live here? I’ll have to eat my words, for I have not lived more decidedly anywhere else since I moved away from my childhood home over ten years ago.

My relationship with this city is like that of an unlikely, but devoted couple. It’s a place I hadn’t stopped to consider, a place that didn’t at first convince me. My uncle tried to scare me into making a different choice, for Mexico was up to no good. Friends of the family raised their eyebrows, “The beaches are beautiful, but we wouldn’t risk leaving the resort.” Regardless, something bit at me, tempting me to cross into the chaos, and so I did.

And chaos it was. Passionate chaos. Colors, music, people, laughter, tears, and love affairs. Rides on emotional roller-coasters. Expressing myself took on new meaning, and my timid Spanish had to get its feet wet and its hands dirty. How do I know whom to trust? When does the noise stop? Where the hell am I? And why do I feel so…alive?

And so we got to know each other:

The people were quick to live up to their reputation of being warm and inviting, never seeing a party go unattended and reluctant to leave someone home alone.

The culture, a vibrant puzzle whose pieces somehow found a way to fit together.

Streets, monuments, and museums collaborating to ensure the country’s history would live on, growing in legend and mystique with each passing year.

From palaces to underground bars, from mountaintops to top floors of skyscrapers, there were always new places to see.

The language went beyond textbook Spanish to communicate a way of being.

And little whims and spontaneous surprises were sure to keep me on my feet.

With time I could see that this wasn’t merely a fling. This city might just be…the one.

But it wasn’t always easy. Noes disguised as yeses, and corruption accepted as a norm. The pollution, swarms of people, and traffic jams did weigh me down from time to time, and I wondered if I could really accept all the defects of “DF defectuoso.”

I left, not knowing when I would be back. I told myself it was time to move on, time to close a cycle. Nothing lasts forever.

Yet, my absence did not last forever either. I soon returned, following a decision of the heart. I’ll take the smog with all the sunny days, face congestion on bicycle, and smile with the feeling that I’ve landed in the right spot. For what appears to be incessant mayhem from a distance can turn into endless possibility and adventure.

“So, you fell in love with a Mexican?” some assume.

And I respond, “I fell in love with Mexico.”

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