I'm a woman. I'm a young woman. I'm a gringa. And I'm a proud gringa. I'm a gringa that stands out a LOT. I'm a post-grad. I'm a really confused post-grad. I'm both a friend and I'm a partner in a romantic relationship. I'm a friend and a partner that is asked to do a lot. I'm a friend and a partner that sometimes just wants to be the young, recently-graduated gringa doin' her thing. But I also live in a place where: domestic violence is not addressed, men are NOT nurses, there are numerous translations for the word f*g, abortion is illegal, 98% of the people are Catholic, I have yet to see two women holding hands in more than a "hey buddy" kind of way, and sex-ed is non-existent. But for some reason, I’m in a place where that brings me more excitement, hope, culture, energy, spice, and knowledge into my life than any other experience I've ever had.

At first it was the looks, the comments, the invitations, the smiles. And sometimes, even the cat calls. It was the sexiness that women exude by simply turning the corner. The odor of confidence that the men left behind them with each step. It was wearing things I had never worn. Doing things I had never done. Saying things that even as they tumbled off my own lips, made my eyes widen with surprise. In the end, it was the cambio, la transformación, the newness that had never existed before.

Then there was the guilt. The questioning and wondering. I was insecure about the quality of the security this place provided me. As a hot senorita walkin' the street, what about the obnoxious cat calls? The lingering-too-long stares? Shouldn't they piss me off? Shouldn't I shout back, make them realize how disrespectful, chauvinistic, and ignorant their gestures were? Why wasn't I upset?

With all the sureness in my voice, I will tell you that the first time I lived in Mexico (two years ago) my life was changed. With the same sureness I will say that I still don't understand the full extent of my transformation, though I sense that I will continue to figure it out far into the future. But at this point, what I do know is that my understanding of being a woman changes every day I wake up here.

I think one of the biggest revelations I’ve had is that Mexican women just really love themselves so much more than most of the women I have met before. And they love themselves in such a different way; it shows in everything they do. Naturally, our oh-so-supportive culture has made its way here from the States through the help of Paris Hilton, step class, Subway, and Slim Fast but the root of it all – the Mexican woman – is still present in everyday life: tight shirts despite the chub at the waist line, lots of makeup simply because it feels prettier, high heels to climb La Quemada, an archaeological site with steps measuring 2 feet high. It's everywhere. And for once, I felt the urge to flaunt it. To use it. To appreciate it. Granted, we've still got those who take two and a half hours to put on their fake eyelashes and another hour to get their lip liner perfect but they are less noteworthy to me in the grand scheme of things. I am surrounded by women who know how bad-ass they are and aren't afraid to show it.

Then there are the men. These damn Mexican men. One minute you can't handle the pride flowing out their ears, their pick-up lines dripping with sleaze and unoriginality, and the next…you're giggling at how romantic it can be. It's sickening. You just want them as friends, then you want them in bed, you just want them to want you, you just want to want them…doesn't matter. Hell maybe you thought you didn't even LIKE men! So many of them have so many of the words that hit you right there. They know how much they should touch you, say things to you, how often to look you in the eye. They're not afraid to hug you in public and at the same time they give you a sense of security you never knew you didn't have.

Who knows. Honestly, every day there's a new tidbit I see that brings a thousand questions to my mind. Hopefully you can tell me what you think it all means.

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