This post is dedicated with love to my sister-in-law, who will become a mommy next month.
When Ana and I first met, she was 14 years old and prepping for her Quinceañera. Back then, she seemed so young and cheerful, full of questions, and stereotypically, Latin-girl loud. She was outgoing and patient (with me), so it was easy for me to feel comfortable talking to her. My knowledge of Spanish was pretty thorough yet mostly classroom-based, so I would often sputter when speaking and struggle when listening — but Ana would always try to work with me either way.
But soon, our personalities began to clash. On top of little, ordinary, personality-dissimilarity issues one faces in everyday life, I was battling some culture-adjustment trouble, which often happens to folks abroad. Life in Poor Mexico (my term for the part of Mexico I know — which is nothing like Los Cabos, Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, or anywhere else that many gringos assume is real Mexico) is not easy to simply fall into. It was still like being in a completely different world.
Due in great part to proximity, Ana took a lot of heat whenever my frustrations flared. I must say that Ana had a heck of a lot of self-control, though, because since I was Aron’s girl, and because Aron was essentially the head of household, apparently that meant she was not allowed to show me any direct disrespect. I was always more outspoken, though. We were all together in a one-bedroom home and too many pets. Sometimes I just wanted to study, relax, or hang out alone with Aron, any of which was very difficult in that environment.
Also, like most lower-class, cinder-block homes in Mexico, there was no built-in storage space. That means people stack up their belongings on top of furniture and appliances, regardless of how cluttered it appears. My in-laws also tend to hang onto belongings quite a while after they lose their value. No closets + people who save everything is a bad combination, especially to a young woman like me who was raised in a clutter-free, artsy, borderline-minimalist home.* So if the physical noise weren’t enough, the psychological “noise” got to me way too much. I started to see that Ana was messy — much less organized than I could ever hope for. And it seemed every move she made or word she spoke drove me absolutely up the wall.
Aron never understood it when I tried to explain to him that not everyone was meant to live together. He would just roll his eyes and blame my mood on being a gringa enojona. There were so many times when he would get upset with me for getting annoyed by so many things. There were times when he disliked who I was, and so did I.
A little over a year passed; I had returned to the U.S. to work during the summer, taken a couple short trips to visit Aron, and then I was back to visit Mexico for another several months. During this stay (late 2008 to early 2009, when my tourist visa would expire), Aron and I were back and forth across the city, readying paperwork and awaiting the INM approval that would give us permission to legally marry in Mexico. Shortly after our civil ceremony, I was becoming anxious againthat we were still living with my in-laws; like many Mexicans, Aron was very close with his family, and he never intended to live anywhere aside from with his parents. So I planned a simple, local getaway: 2 nights in a suite at the Holiday Inn Express overlooking Paseo Santa Lucia in Monterrey. Aron had never been to a hotel before, and did not plan on accompanying me there. He surprised me, though, by taking time off work to be able to take this “honeymoon” with me. We enjoyed time in peace to watch movies, walk around barefoot (something you can’t do when you live with unhousetrained dogs), do some talking the way we did in our early days, and in my case, do some design work. I was so refreshed, and Aron was happy to see me in good spirits again.
We finally got the chance to move out in 2010, when a family friend let us rent his home in a small town outside of Monterrey. I could not have been more ecstatic. Sometime in 2011, Ana decided to stay with us for a few days, without notice. There was a reason for this, but I couldn’t stand it. After pleading fruitlessly with Aron to talk to his mom about it, I ended up kicking her out. There was also a reason for this. I felt so relieved once I spoke up; it sounds harsh, but that house was the only place I could escape the craziness of the world around us, and I was so freaking stressed while she was there, I thought I was going to explode. After I blew my fuse and Ana stormed out of our home in tears, Aron did not voluntarily say a word to me for 3 days. Literally.
It has taken time, but somehow Ana and I have gotten past a lot of anger and nonsense. I admire her tenacity during all the times when I was furious and falling apart. She still drives me nuts, yet there is a bond between us that I cannot imagine will ever be broken. We have fought, laughed, gossiped, shopped, and roamed the city together. She is the little sister I never had, who will drive me crazy for years to come! I can’t fathom ever wanting to live with her again, but I certainly could not bear to live my life without her altogether, either.
*I have tested multiple times as INFJ. Read more about my tendencies here, and use this site to see what makes you tick, too: http://www.16personalities.com/infj-strengths-and-weaknesses **
**Please note that results may not be 100% accurate, but they can sure tell a lot about people!