Then and Now

Time flies when you’re having fun.  A few weeks I realized I’d been living in Mexico City for six months.  I’ve rarely regretted my decision to move down here – and you’ll be happy to hear that I renewed my lease for another six months – but my time here has been eye-opening in a few ways.  Let’s take a look…

(Just a few) Things I know now that I didn’t know six months ago:

1)       To begin this blog on a happy note, I recently learned that gay marriage is legal in Mexico City.  Who knew?!

2)      Most of what you can buy in the U.S. (I’m talking food, pharmaceuticals, clothes, electronics, and cars) is also available for purchase…but not everything, and not always for less.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find things like Ocean Spray jellied cranberries, Cheez-It crackers, Trix cereal, Snyder’s of Hanover pretzel rods, and even two-liter bottles of Squirt.  (Actually, Squirt is more popular here than in the States.)  But that box of Cheez-It’s cost me 85 pesos – almost $7.00 USD.  On the other hand, I have yet to find preservative-free eye drops…or ibuprofen…or my beloved Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.  Am I a hopeless gringo or what?!  🙂

3)      Mexicans don’t really get mail.  It’s not that they pay all bills online and opt for paperless statements; I do that and am inundated with boxes full of mail that my parents have forwarded me.  Phone bill, gas bill, the occasional coupon or flyer (but just a single page – not those forest-decimating binders of junk mail I regularly received whilst living stateside)…and that’s it!  Hallmark would never survive down here; my building has a communal mailbox on the ground floor that I check regularly, and the only resident to ever receive cards and letters is me!

4)      Mexicans are muy family-oriented.  In the U.S. it’s common for young adults to move away from home at either age 18 (for college) or age 22 (upon starting their first “real world” post-college job).  That’s not to say that we gringos aren’t close to our families, just that we recognize it’s time to move out on our own.  I attended university three hours south from where my parents lived, but still kept a bedroom full of belongings at my parents’ house for summer and winter breaks.  My first job after college didn’t pay much so I actually stayed with my parents until I was 25.  This was considered uncommon (not to mention being a major drag on my social life).  Here in Mexico, this is the norm, not the exception.  People generally live with their parents until they get married…at whatever age that may be.  In the U.S., by and large you’ll only find people living with their parents post-divorce.

5)      On a related note, Mexican courtships seem to last an eternity.  I haven’t made a lot of friends down here as of yet, but the handful of locals I have befriended all comment that they are in five-year relationships (más o menos) with no plans on settling down anytime soon.  (This has been a source of some tension between Pamela and me, but I digress.)  As with #4 above, this is quite unlike relationship norms in the U.S.  Most of my American friends get engaged in no more than a year and married less than a year after that.  Those who’ve taken longer usually postpone things for strictly financial reasons.  I know someone in the States who got engaged after just ten days!

6)      Somewhat to my surprise, I really don’t find myself missing L.A. – or the U.S. – at all.  It’s not a bad country in which to live…but neither is this one.  I think I might stay awhile.

Happy anniversary to me!

Author: gringopotpourri

Gringo - aka Scott - was born outside of Chicago and has lived most of his life in or around big cities. He spent two years of his adult life in Mexico City (talk about big cities!) and fell in love with Mexican food, history, and women, all while weathering the culture shock. Life's journey has since brought him to rural Tennessee, perhaps the biggest culture shock of them all. Scott also enjoys movies, hiking, and travel in general.

4 thoughts on “Then and Now”

  1. Yeah manm, 33 year old and still living with my parents.
    About the marriage thing it varies here, there are some people who are engaged forever, but other that get married in a year or so, i think it depends on the age of the people.

  2. Could #4 be age-related? I think it was pretty common to have longer relationships without it leading to marriage or settling down when we were younger. These days I hear of more short-term relationships leading to engagement, maybe because in our 30s people are more ready to settle down than we were in our 20s. Who knows? Have the friends you’ve made in Mexico all been somewhat younger than you?

    1. Yes and no, Sari. I do think that young people in the U.S. are more impulsive, quick to get engaged, etc. Most of my friends here are younger than I am but I have a few older or same-age friends who also still live with their parents and/or are in multi-year courtships. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that…it just isn’t something I would’ve expected without having moved down here.

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