Any time I visit Botti, I always exclaim over pictures. I actually do this to all my friends.
And I was thinking about why that is. I wasn’t always enamored with pictures. Before we lived here, I was actually very uninterested in any and all pictures, especially pictures of people.
Now, however, I find myself absolutely fascinated by pictures of couples or families.
After a lot of thought, I can offer one possible reason for this strange fixation. And it has a lot less to do with the pictures themselves than the relationships they represent.
Most of the pics which interest me are pre-Mexas. The rest are taken in candid moments, often on vacations. A funny thing about moving down here when we did, why we did, is that a lot of other couples and families did the same. Everyone is “new.” No one has old friends, or “knew each other since kindergarten” or anything like that.
This creates a weird dynamic, at least it has for me. I’ve become good friends with some folks out here; we’ve become a support system of sorts, but it’s got these strange limitations. We don’t know about each others’ pasts. We don’t have history. Imagine meeting your best friend not 15 years ago, but today. How would things be different?
One of the most delightful aspects of these free-ballin’ friendships is that we all appear to be incredible, strong, independent survivors to all the others. Because we are.
All I ever see of most of my friends is “survivor mode.” Most of our interactions involve working off the stress of being outsiders and newbies. And a lot of our “hang out” time is simply us keeping each other company during the many hours when our spouses are working.
On a regular basis, my friends deal with language and cultural barriers, new jobs (or no jobs), intensely taxing shifts, insane weather, and many of them are subject to prejudice on a daily basis. Making a life here is the stuff that amazing-stories-when-you’re-90-years-old are made of.
My friends are stone-faced warriors. That’s how I see them, and that’s what I think of them.
And then I see a picture like the one above. Or this one.
And I realize that it wasn’t always this way.
Which seems like a simple, obvious observation. But it’s really not.
You don’t look at decorated soldiers and think about who they dated in high school. You don’t watch movies about heroes and spend a lot of time contemplating what their family dinners were like before they went on blazing rampages. Warriors don’t really have histories. And neither do we, the adopted children of Mexas. For all intents and purposes, our “lives” started when we drove into town.
I love seeing pictures and being reminded of the pasts these friends of mine lived, before they landed in Mexas. And the more I learn what those lives were like, the more I’m able to recognize them in the people I know today. They are fundamentally changed by this experience, as am I.
But somewhere in there, they’re still the same. And I think that’s just delightful.