I live one mile from Mexico, in Mexas, a fun word I coined all by myself to communicate the duality of cultures in my new home. I used “Texaco” for a while, but I just couldn’t handle sharing with the mega-gas-station chain. Plus, no one really got it. Mexas seemed to do the trick, though.
This town, like most towns on the US-Mexico border, is decidedly bi-cultural. Often, southern US border towns are within walking distance of the closest Mexican cities (please note the above photo), while it usually takes hours to reach the nearest US version.
Mexas is fascinating to me, for many reasons, some of which I’ll detail here:
- I’ve lived on the relatively well-populated Northeast coast of the US for my entire life. Even the most extremely rural areas along that seaboard are less than an hour’s drive from a monstro-city. Not the case, here. The nearest “real” city is San Antonio, hundreds of miles away. All these little towns up and down the Rio Grande call themselves cities, but they aren’t my kind of city. So that’s new.
- The culture is essentially a Mexican hybrid. Customs, social strictures, and language all change dramatically along these 2,000 miles; not quite Mexican, but certainly not the “American” that we think of when we get philosophical and meta-cultural and whatnot. All of this makes for a long learning curve, from which I may never fully recover, but I’m descending back into “normal” a little more each day.
- No family out here. Never thought this would be a major issue for me, but there it is. I have, thus, been forced to be a decent human being (I’m protesting as much as possible) to near-total strangers and finding the results quite delightful. Who knew there were so many quality people out there just waiting to be friends?!
A lot of definitions change when your location changes, and the more extreme the move, the more extreme the changes. I initially assumed that us still living in the States was going to help me adjust. In actuality, I’ve spent a lot of time administering mental wrist-slaps as I find myself thinking things like, “this is America, gosh darnit!” I suspect moving out of the country entirely would have been a better way to start this adventure; it would have inspired me to drop all expectations at the outset. As is, I’ve had expectations wrenched from my hysterical, paranoid fingers more times than I care to admit.
It’s not easy to recognize close-mindedness, especially when you’re recognizing it in yourself.
Ultimately, my definition of “America” has changed dramatically, for the better, since moving here. I spend a lot more time thinking about the unimaginably vast possibilities our country offers than I used to. It’s growth, and there are growing pains, but I’m glad to be a few millimeters bigger, and glad to still be learning. Living here is disconcerting in a million different ways, but rewarding in a billion, so it all evens out.
There you go. I’m in Mexas.
FYI: This entire post is actually the result of a question from Sydney, who maintains several fantastic blogs. If you have questions, ask me. I love to type (talk) and I really love that people want to hear what I have to write.