Chutes and Ladders

In the never ending board game that we call the dating scene, we all know too well how not only do the little stand up cardboard players constantly change and evolve but also the board on which you play, the goal that gets you the win, and especially the instructions to play. It's like you combine Life, Monopoly, and Guess Who to create this debacle of "Sorry, I'm busy tonight…", "Why hasn't she called!?!", and "Dude…he's hot". Then there's the "Hey…tell me what are you thinking?", the "No you hang up first!", and the favorite, "It's not you, it's me". It's all so overplayed, so confusing, sometimes so ridiculous. And so delicious.

When I relocated my Chutes and Ladders board from its normal place in Mexico over to the States for a few weeks, I not only confronted so many of the normal 'Oh God he's going to meet my parents' moments, but also the 'Oh God he's going to meet all my close friends, see where I grew up, travel with me for over 5 days straight, be at my side at least 18 hours a day, and he's going to do it all…without speaking my language or being part of my culture". Ya know, the usual. Everyone already had this image. They had seen pictures and they had heard stories it wasn't out of the blue but there was a lot riding on this visit. I mean, just imagine. Having this amazing person in your life with whom you have shared countless moments and words, knowing how intelligent, compassionate, and especially clever he is and... oops! No one else with a significant role in your life can truly see that. Sure, he's cute he says "thank you" a lot, and is easy-going, those things you can see. But that's what you're supposed to see after 3 or 4 months, not almost 2 1/2 years. Makes ya wonder…how did this witty ol' chap and I get to this point anyway?

Then the weirdest part was… it wasn't weird at all. All the worrying, wondering, talking about what would happen didn't mean nada because things went more smoothly than anyone could have imagined. Everyone got along, everyone was excited, and everyone, especially him, was more than content to be a part of such an experience. Trust me, we deal with things that you don't even realize. Intercultural relationship aside, this board game is freakin hard. So the general success of this trip not only revived our relationship, but I think it reopened some things, too.

I was soooo ready to kick anyone's ass who even tried to 'bring it.' I think I was more than expecting for him to have at least one prick who treated him rudely, mocked his lack of English, or was just a straight up dick, and all my devoted mental preparations were for nothing. Sure every now and then there was an ignorant individual who explained, to me, when he wasn't there, the comparison between the work ethic in landscaping between Mexicans and say oh, El Salvadorians, sure, because it's ok if he's not there. Right. Ok good. But in terms of your overall xenophobic, ignorant butthead? Nope, didn't show his face. At least not on this visit. Oh, besides the ridiculously obnoxious, irrational, and unbearable behavior of the immigration officer. At least we have our faithful system to fall back on.

I don't mean to say it wasn't akward at times. At a noisy bar yelling about old high school stories with friends and turning to his bored, clueless expression not only made me sad, but it frustrated me. Why can't we have a "normal" relationship? Let's be honest, we all wanna break the mold, but sometimes, you just want it easy. But more than that, this handsome young Mexican has said to me before, "Si fuera facil, cualquier pendejo lo harĂ­a." (I'm gonna leave that for a quiet moment between you and wordreference.com. And you'll need a little Mexican Spanish slang help while you're at it.)

A while back, before the idea of this trip even existed, I explained something: "If we're ever at my house or whatever, just know that I won't be this huggy, ok? Why? I mean, I dunno, it's just different. Like, I could never hold your hand in front of my dad. And my friends would just roll their eyes if we kissed in front of them. I don't know, ok? That's just how it is". Yeah, B.S. I guess it's just different when you're actually living it instead of just thinking about it. Plus, I think the awkwardness, disdain, or discomfort with PDA that is inherent in U.S. culture has kind of worn off during my time here. For a hetero couple, Mexico is like lovesick, puppy dog heaven. People just like expressing their feelings in a visual manner. Not liking seeing two people romp on a park bench is one thing but being annoyed by embraces or words of affection on the metro or in line at 7-11? Get over it.

Then there was the whole "ok, now what?" thing. I mean it wasn't a matter of, ok you know everyone now so when are putting a down payment on the two bedroom, but it was kind of obvious to everyone. It was like this was the last piece of the "normal relationship" puzzle that was going to get us to as "normal" as we'll ever be. There's a mutual understanding of our backgrounds, I wasn't hiding some freakishly weird family secret, we didn't break it off even after the awkward encounter with my hyper-active, self-righteous, cousins, seeing my pictures from ages 12-18, and the 11 hour car ride from Niagara Falls where the only think I could do to stay awake was sing Celine Dion in the days where she had her "should we question her sexuality" haircut. It's all coming back to me now. So up to now, I'd say we're doing ok.

The reality is…no one knows what's going to happen. I can't say "no one has any idea of what's going to happen" anymore because that's not the case. Ideas have been mentioned. I treasure my time living here because I know it won't be forever. The only thing that is lacking here is professional opportunities that would fulfill my needs. I've made that clear to myself and to everyone involved from the beginning. Sometimes I have to kick myself in the ass when I start throwing my own pity party where the theme is "Wah, I moved here for you, can't you just understand me" or "Boo, I gave up two years of some pointless post-grad job that I wouldn't even have liked…now you move your entire life and leave your job, family, and everything you know to come with me, ok?" Yeah, ok.

His English was actually much better than everyone thought. Even surprised himself sometimes. Like when a friend said "Awesome! Now that he knows he likes it he can just move here and you can start having babies!" After literally saving myself from choking on my lemonade, I was even more thrilled to turn and see a look of scared bewilderment on his. Perfect. No one wants to talk about life-long commitments, babies, or concrete plans yet. But eventually, much sooner than we'd like to think, reality is going to set in and this lil' senorita is going to have to buck up and face the musica.

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