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Lessons from Peru (& becoming better people): community

Alexis Castillo2 Comments

Peruvian Preoccupation; 2015 acrylic on board

In a dramatic transition for our family, we have just returned Stateside after living in Peru for 3 years. As those of you who have lived overseas can attest, returning "home" is a bigger adjustment than you imagine possible when you're packing up to leave. After all, I was looking forward to air conditioning and cheddar cheese again, so where's the downside?

 

I learned a lot while living in Lima. I grew a lot. I shook my fist at traffic, and then decided it was better to pretend like it was funny and force myself to laugh. Our kids can beat your kids at Spanish (that's ok, my kids are no good at American basics), and the highlight of my life down there: we had a nanny.
But all in all we decided it was time to transition back to the States. For various reasons, really, but it was not an easy decision. Pros: more yard space, closer to the grandparents, easier access to internet/ business connectivity; Cons: We now need a car and insurance, school is a complicated choice, it's crazy expensive here (compared to what we are used to), and no more nanny. I dunno. It was a crapshoot.

Peru is dangerous. I learned that it is in fact smart to sprint in across the road in a clearly marked crosswalk and hide cash and valuables in your own house. Not something that occurred to me before we lost those things. (Yes, we're going with "lost")
When we moved we had twin infants and a 2 year old and I did not speak Spanish. Not a single Como te llama. But they say the best way to learn something is to dive in... right? Let me add a footnote that while this is very true, this method does not come without tears.
But this brings me to the point that all things have a certain learning curve.

And you know what, not to be a bummer , but as long as we’re willing to keep growing, there is another pain point waiting for us on the road ahead.

You ever notice how growing hurts? Most of us say that we are interested in growth in the abstract sense (admittedly some of us more than others), but when the rubber hits the road it is work. Growth takes maturity. It takes falling down and trying again. It takes sticking it out when what you really want to do is give up. Growing means learning to make the most of where you are instead of complaining at every opportunity. It means not shying away from the hard stuff even when you hit uncharted waters. This stuff is hard, people. And you know what, not to be a bummer , but as long as we're willing to keep growing, there is another pain point waiting for us on the road ahead.

And this is not to complain. It’s the next season of growing. And whatever comes of it on the other side I am determined to be shaped for the better in the process.

But then there are those in between moments where it feels like you've hit your stride. There came a point where not everyone made a confused face when I tried to talk to them. We found the smallest apartment in the best neighborhood and enjoyed the views of the ocean and the walk to the mercado. People start to notice that you're a local, even if you are a gringa, and there is a familiarity in that that feels like home in itself. We found a church where we really felt connected and went back every week for 3 years. These are the things that I miss when we chose to pull up roots and come back. It's familiar here too. but I didn't work as hard for it. It doesn't feel like MY home. And this is not to complain. It's the next season of growing. And whatever comes of it on the other side I am determined to be shaped for the better in the process.

The surprising (to me) conclusion is that as much as I like my independence, my space, and my time alone, what I yearn for most is true community. And this is not unique to me. Even as we find ourselves back on familiar ground, I feel like there are missing pieces when I don't know how to connect with the people that are naturally close-by.
So with this realization I am determined to be more proactive. They say that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Sobering, isn't it (especially when some of those people are the children at home, I need to make sure the other couple of influencers are made of sturdy character!) But more than that, to be conscious of making the effort be BE the person that I would want to spend time with. It's a process, so I guess I'll go ahead and get started. All I can do is try.

To becoming better people, and the work it takes to get there,