Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tall for this world

I love visiting Mexico. To see the diversity of this country reminds me of the variety of life and in the importance of history, beauty, hard work and good food. However, being a 5'11" Caucasian in Mexico is nothing short of difficult (no pun intended). Not because of the pinpointed approaches of beggars or street vendors, but rather because my ruddy skin was not intended for such sun exposure and most importantly because my statuesque height at 5'11" was not meant for the dimensions of this city.

I constantly find myself looking into mirrors on walls and instead of seeing my face, I see a clear display of my chest (a bit sunburned but not painful). I have to hunch more than usual to spit in the sink after brushing and of course find my knees bumping into the bottom of every table while my feet hang off every bed.

It is a challenge to stand up straight only to find your gaze thrown downward over the nose in an unintended glare. That is not the way to look at a friend or generous host. Of course there are the perks of being tall, namely the ability to see over everyone in a crowd. But, aside from that, The toilet seat seems miles away, and the ceiling much too close. In fact I can touch it, and I often do.

All of this does not diminish the enjoyment of my time here. But it does make me grateful for the luxuries of space I enjoy at home in the United States. I am a sucker for shoes, however stores here simply don't carry my size. And even the largest women clothing, is not made for my height and general girth. A bummer to say the least.

Being tall changes things. While it literally changes one's perspective, it also shapes one's understanding of one's place in the world. You can't help but feel a little like an outsider knowing that everything around you was not made for you or your proportions. It sends a subliminal message that you don't fit and perhaps even don't belong. While I don't feel depressed by this (because I am not Mexican), it is a constant reminder of how we as individuals are constantly faced with challenges in which we have the option to mold ourselves in order to come out on the other side.

In this way, life's situations are not unlike getting into the back of a two door chevy. One has to bend and fold, reach and angle, balance oneself gingerly between two sprawled legs at awkward angles and then duck and cover before finally becoming situated and for the time, measurably comfortable (knees apart to accommodate the seat back in front of you and avoid unnecessary bruising when riding over speed bumps or potholes).

We are constantly uncomfortable yet we are incredibly malleable. And, we put ourselves in awkward positions because from there we can discover new and exciting things about ourselves and the world around us. In fact, I will go so far as to say, we seek discomfort because through that process we are forced to grow (thankfully not literally in my case).

But being in difficult or awkward positions or situations is a reminder for us to acknowledge how and who we really are. It is a chance for for us to choose to adhere to our ways or to invite change. Just tonight, while brushing my teeth I noticed again that I was unintentionally hunching forward and jutting my chin forward and down just to see my face in the mirror. Here is a glimpse of my mental process:

". . . Wow. I really have to slouch down to see myself in the mirror. My neck hurts. My back too. Why am I slouching? So, I can see myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth. Why do I need to see myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth? Well, I don't. . . (straightening up). . . Wow. I am really much taller than this mirror. Perhaps 5-6 inches past the top. Past the lights at the top of the mirror. Look how far down the sink is from here! If I spit from here it would splash all over. Gross. And look how far away the towel and towel holder are. Was this all made for children? I can't reach it while standing straight, hands at my sides. I could pitch forward from the hips and keep my back straight. . . . Or not, because then my butt hits the door. Ok. Well, then I will stand as straight and tall as I can until I have to spit. Which is right now. . . "

I can only imagine how this place feels for my burly boyfriend. Lots of challenges for him to say the least. He seems to be taking them with remarkable equanimity. I admire that in him.

Off to bed (with sock covered feet to keep them warm off the edge). Hehe.

Life is funny.

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