sublime…

a dessert and a town beckoning me

a dessert and a town beckoning me

In my late 20s, I had a boyfriend who believed life was usually mundane and only contained small moments of glee (his word – not mine). Being a naturally positive person, I passionately disagreed with him. I pointed out all the happy moments we spent together, the fulfillment he received from his career and the fun times he enjoyed with friends. However, he was not swayed by my platitudes. Remember, this is the same guy that did not enjoy my fascination with clichĂ©s.! Clearly, we were not meant to be together.! jajaja…

Over the years, I have thought about what he said and I still do not agree with him. I believe that life is as happy, unhappy, boring, exciting, mundane or as exhilirating as you make it to be.! However, I do also believe that there are some moments that top the bliss scale.!! These blissful moments happen when we feel truly connected and truly alive.! I have had several of these sublime moments in my life, but the one that stands out in my head occurred upon my return to Playa in December of 2011.

my friend K. and me

my friend K. and me

I had been living in Playa del Carmen in late 2010 and early 2011, but I had returned to Chicago in June of 2011. At the time, I felt that it was the right decision. My father was getting on in years, my family and most of my friends lived there. Plus, I believed I could and would make more money. So I packed my belongings and spent a week going to goodbye parties or despedidas in my honor.!! I have to say that was a lot of fun..!!

Then I returned to Chicago and set about making a routine for myself. I saw my family, I spent time with friends, and I looked for a job. However, I was completely unhappy for the first time in my life. I felt so disconnected from everything I had known growing up in Chicago and longed to return to Mexico. Somewhere deep inside, I felt like I had failed. I had embarked on this epic adventure only to give up so soon and return home. I was no Columbus, no Magellan, no Lewis and Clark. I was the status quo.

my friends A. and K.

my friends A. and K.

My family and friends noticed how unhappy I looked. While my body was physically in Chicago, neither my heart nor my mind had boarded that flight with me. Eventually, my family started to ask me would I return and I started to say maybe. After months of discouraging job prospects, my friends also inquired would I be returning as I had a job possibility in Mexico. Finally, my novio asked me would I return. I looked at the non-life I had been living in Chicago just because it made everyone else happy. And then I looked at the life I had and could have again in Mexico that made me happy. I began to cry and I knew I had to return.

In December of 2011, I took a flight back to Mexico and made my way to my temporary housing. One of my really good friends A. was playing in a soccer game the next night and invited me. I would be reunited with my friends in less than twenty four hours. I unpacked, had dinner and went to sleep. The following evening, my novio picked me up and we had dinner and caught up on all of our crazy stories.! Then we took a taxi to the soccer game on the outskirts of Playa. Soccer games are usually held around 11pm at night because so many Playa residents work in the tourist industry!

my friend A. and me

my friend A. and me

When we arrived at the game, there was an amazing assortment of so many people we both knew who we had not seen in months.! My friend K. was there too!! We had spent so many evenings drinking wine and talking about men.! It was great to see her. Funny enough, one of the guys on the soccer team is also Croatian. I worked with his wife the first time I lived in Playa. After many greetings, the game finally began.! Drinks came out and everyone shared their beers, rum, and tequila with each other. Everyone talked, laughed, and cheered.! Someone even took our their trumpet and started playing a tune at the game.

I was so happy. Here I was a Croatian-American girl in the soccer stands of Playa del Carmen cheering on a Mexican team that had one Croatian player on it.! What a small and enchanting world.! I was having so much fun talking to everyone and reuniting with K. We were laughing so hard that we could hardly breathe.!! Plus, we were enjoying the antics of the men around us and on the field. At one point when I was laughing so hard, I caught my novio looking at me. Our eyes locked on each other and in that moment, I felt pure joy.!! The moment was so sublime that the memory itself has sustained me at the most trying of present moments.

my ex getting fresh with a mannequin

my ex getting fresh with a mannequin

And to make the night even more magical, our team won the gold trophy.! We then set out to celebrate at our favorite local hangout, Click. Everyone continued to share stories, jokes, and drinks. The night was amazing.!! It was so wonderful that not one of us took any photos. I have no proof of that night happening except in my memory and the memories of those who were celebrating with me.

Any photos represented here today are of my friends and our many other exploits, but no photos are from that night. That night was special to me because I was truly alive and truly at one with my soul’s desire and purpose. I truly could not have had a better homecoming to Playa.! Since then, my soul’s purpose has altered and I wish that I could live in both Chicago and Playa. Now that would be utterly sublime.!!

no mames wey…

courtesy of tumblr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

**warning – swear word alert**

Why is it that swear words are usually the first words one learns in a foreign language.? Ok, so maybe you do learn how to say “how are you”, “where’s the bathroom”, etc. But really, the first words you learn are the bad words.! The ones that make genteel people shake their heads in disbelief. No need to elaborate here on the English ones, we all know those words. I am talking about Spanish swear words because even I was not immune to this learning curve when I moved to Mexico.

Prior to my relocation, I had taken a brief Spanish class on how to count, the days of the week, and certain pleasantries. However, those were all cast aside upon my arrival because all my friends (and my novio) thought it was funny to teach me swear words. I’m not sure if it was my naivete or my accent that they thought was so hilarious. But laugh they did, numerous times I might add. We all remember my love affair with the word pinche..!! My friends still laugh when I use it now.!

courtesy of tumblr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

Another expression I learned was no mames. Literally, mames comes from the infinitive verb a mamar which means to suckle. So if someones says ‘no mames’ to you, they are literally saying “don’t suckle the breast”. It is most definitely a vulgar expression and not to be used in polite company. You want to just say this around your friends. Not your boss. Not your teachers. Not your in-laws.

However, the actual translation while vulgar is also an informal way of saying “you’re kidding”. It could also mean “stop messing around” or “no way”. For example, if you are telling your friends a story about how your boss did not give you a raise this year or you saw the neighbors getting it on next door with the blinds up – your friends would reply with ‘no mames wey‘. It’s basically used when the story being told is incredulous.

courtesy of deviantart.com

courtesy of deviantart.com

As I became friends with more women in Mexico, they put a huge stop to my saying no mames. Basically, they told me it was very vulgar. In fact too vulgar for a nice girl like me. I explained to them that I used bad words in English too, but they were not swayed. So, I stopped. But they quickly gave me a more polite alternative, no manches.

Manches literally means to stain, tarnish or sully. Therefore, no manches means to not stain, not tarnish or not sully. However, its metaphoric meaning is similar to saying “stop kidding” or “are you serious”. So for example, when your friend says that they won the lottery or are dating Brad Pitt – you must respond by exclaiming ‘no manches’.! Even if they really did win the lottery and are dating Brad Pitt..!!

courtesy of tumblr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

For the longest time, I kept my promise to my friends to not say no mames and to use no manches. Until one fateful day, I relapsed. I was riding the combi with my roommate P. and we were sitting all the way in the last row. We were on our way to Akumal for the day. The combi is a small minivan bus that goes between Playa and Akumal. It picks up passengers along the highway too.

By the time we left Playa the bus was pretty full. Along the way, other riders boarded and had to stand. Eventually, we stopped and picked up a very tall Western couple. They both had to be about 6 feet tall which is way too tall to stand comfortably on the minibus. Sure enough, the man was standing facing the back of the bus with his back in a stooped position. And his wife/girlfriend was standing facing him in the same position. Eventually, she must have tired of this stance and she went down in a squatting position on the bus..!!

courtesy of tumblr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

Her face literally was in her husband’s crotch area..!! And with all the bobbing and weaving of the combi, you can only imagine what that image looked like to those of us on the back of the bus. While P. and I sat in muted and stunned silence, from next to us a male voice cried out, “no mames wey.!!” And the entire back of the bus, including P. and I, dissolved into a silent but teary hysteria.! No mames wey..!!

For days, nay weeks, P. and I would say to each other and text each other no mames just to recreate that moment in time. Because while we both had lived in Mexico for some time and were learning the language, we were still outsiders who were adjusting to our new home. However, that moment on the bus encapsulated the expression ‘no mames wey’ better than any description or definition prior. And in so doing, bonded us to each other, to the other locals on the bus, to the words themselves and to Mexico with an indelible mark of belonging. In fact, I think I’m going to go text it to her now 🙂 No manches…!!