Those of you who know me, know the deep love I have in my heart for Mexicans. For Spaniards. For anyone with that perfectly brown skin, round brown eyes and dark brown hair. I really don’t know how on earth I ever gained such an affinity for Latinos. I always dreamed of marrying a Latino man. A very tall Latino man, that is. For as long as I can remember, I remember saying, “When I grow up, I want to teach English to little children in Mexico.” That was long before I had ever spoken a word of their language let alone set a foot on their land. When I began taking Spanish my freshmen year of high school, I quickly fell in love with the language, encouraging this little dream in my heart. The summer after my junior year I spent three weeks in Mexico studying the language and learning about the rich culture. I was captivated. My host family called me “Susy” because “Susana is far too formal,” my host mama explained. My host brother and sister quickly nicknamed me “Susips.”
I’ll never forget the vivid awakening I got the morning I arrived in Mexico at a mere 17 years old. My flight had arrived around 2am so by the time I got to the house it was somewhere around 4 in the morning. I started class that day, so I went to bed knowing I had just a couple hours to sleep. The loud knock that awoke me practically caused me to jump out of my skin.
I opened my eyes to see a wooden door that I did not recognize. I had no idea where I was. No idea. And some lady on the other side of the door, whom I didn’t know, was speaking some jumble of words that I did not understand. At all. I could tell by the inflection of her voice that she was asking me a question. After at least a minute of pounding and yelling at me, my first moment of recognition came.
Spanish. She was speaking Spanish.
Mexico. I was in Mexico.
Yes…that’s right. I flew in the day before, landed in the middle of the night, and now it was time for me to start my first day of classes. I was in what was to be my home for the next 3 weeks. The lady speaking was probably my host mom. I thought I had remembered meeting her several hours earlier…yes, I was sure that was her…
And all the while the pounding and talking continued and intensified. I snapped into reality. Focus! I told myself.
And finally, I caught a word: “Desayuno.” Oh, so familiar…Don’t fail me now, oh espanol. Clearly three years of high school Spanish was not enough to prepare me for this. Desayuno, desayuno…what does it mean…? Wait! I got it! BREAKFAST! It means “breakfast”! She’s asking me what I want to eat for breakfast!!
The excitement and pride only lasted a split second before it occurred to me that now that I knew what she was asking, I needed to ANSWER her. Okay, I can do this. I can do this. Breakfast words….hmmm, breakfast words…. My mind flipped through the pages of my 1985 Spanish textbook, trying to find the picture of the family sitting around the table eating one morning with all of the little breakfast words highlighted in bold. HUEVOS! I know how to say, “eggs”! I blurted it out as soon as it came to my mind, so relieved that my first morning would not be an epic fail.
“Huevos!” I shouted back. Come on, Susanne, think. “Huevos, por favor!” Good, good… “Me gustan huevos!”
Yes! I had done it! I had constructed my very first sentence ever in the Spanish real world.
Anyway. I regress. My point is, small beginnings. Verryyyy small beginnings. But those 3 weeks in Mexico were certainly foundational to my Spanish-speaking skills, which would be an integral part of the next several years of my life.
I went on to take AP Spanish as a Senior, studied in Spain my sophomore year of college, taught in a Spanish immersion classroom for my first teaching job…and all the while I dreamed of marrying that tall Latino man who would give me brown haired, brown eyed Latino babies one day. And my babies would grow up speaking both Spanish and English and we would all live happily ever after. In my waiting, I developed an affinity for naming my most endearing possessions with Spanish names. Most of you know Chiquita, my beloved Honda Accord (who has now grown up and moved out from under my roof…sniff, sniff.), Felipe, my Mac Powerbook (who has been my almost constant companion for the last 6 years and who is, unfortunately, dying a slow painful death. I have to keep a close eye on Felipe because Brian keeps trying to put him to sleep for good) and of course, iPaco (nicknamed iPaquito) who is my sweet little ipod. I was a lady in waiting, but I wasn’t going to let them stop me from having little Latino loves.
But then…thee Mr. Brian Moberg walked into my life. Who is, incidentally, about as far from Latino as they come. (But he is quite tall!) When I’ve attempted to teach him Spanish in the past he always—and I mean always—responds with “Oui”…no matter what I’m saying. Sigh. When I fell in love with him, so did my dreams of living la vida loca.
But when we got pregnant, my passions were stirred once again and I began to dream. I was convinced—convinced—that the baby in my womb was part Latino. I just really believed my God could take Brian’s genes and my genes and form a little Latino baby in my womb. If God really loved me, maybe he would give me a brown baby. Hey, stranger things have happened. Maybe, when I ingested that parasite last summer in Mazatlan that made me so sick when I was 10 weeks pregnant with Elliott, it left a little trace of Mexicano in my womb…but only time would tell.
So when Elliott came out, with blue eyes and skin as fair as his mother’s (who was so pale when she was born that the doctors thought there was something terribly wrong with her), I realized fairly quickly that I needed to move on to greater dreams for my son. But, it wasn’t long before I started plotting to have a Spanish nanny come live with us. Not because I wanted a nanny, but because I wanted Elliott to grow up with Spanish influence. And I just really, really, really like being around Latino people!
Well, the Lord must have heard my prayers. Because several weeks ago, we were invited to go visit some new friends down at a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) base in–get this—Baja, Mexico. And, my gringo husband was actually excited about it! Visions instantly danced through my head of Brian, Elliott, and I wearing sombreros and eating tacos. I could hear Elliott toothlessly shouting out his first word: “guacamole.” I could see Brian wearing a cape and shouting “Ole!” as a giant bull ran past him. Yes…yes! My dream was being realized.
Here is a picture of Elliott with his feet on Mexican soil (err, concrete…) for the very first (and hopefully not the last!) time. Look at how overjoyed he is! He was made to be Mexican!!!! I’m just sure it’s in his blood!!
On our drive back across the border to the US, my heart was humming with overflowing joy. I was one happy Senora. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I drank in the reality of what had just happened. My 4 month old had had his very first trip to Mexico (outside the womb). As we drove by cars packed full with little brown children practically hanging out the windows, I have to admit that there was such a sense of feeling at home. I just love these people. I think they are hilarious and wonderful. No one does life like the Mexicans. You can’t sit in traffic without someone offering to wash your car (illegally) or give you a mango on a stick or cook you a burrito or sell you a giant life-sized plastic turtle. Because waiting in a line of cars for 75 minutes certainly makes one realize that one cannot go on one more second without that turtle in hand. Ahh, Mexico!
We were only in Mexico for a quick 48 hour whirlwind, but I just know it was the best 48 hours of Elliott’s entire existence. I even think he looks more like a Mexican now, don’t you?
The Mexican Mobergs