Me daban frutita en la escuela

A Gus le encanta bromear y burlarse de mí de forma cariñosa. Una de las cosas que más le divierte es decirme “Te daban frutita en la escuela.” Hace unos años había una conversación entre él, nuestro cuñado y yo sobre cómo crecimos. Gus, para expresar que yo era una niña consentida, me dijo: “Seguramente te daban frutita en la escuela, verdad?” Yo, sin saber que eso se  refería a ser consentida, le dije: “Claro que sí!” porque de verdad mi mamá siempre me daba fruta para la escuela cuando era niña.

Ahí empecé a darme cuenta que tan diferentemente crecimos Gus y yo. Siempre me ha sorprendido que tan diferentes somos, pero entender que es algo que empezó desde nuestra niñez y juventud me sorprendió todavía más.

Ambos crecimos en un pueblo – Gus en el Estado de México, yo en la costa del mar báltico en el norte de Alemania. Desde el principio nacimos en situaciones muy diferentes: Gus tiene 3 hermanas mayores, cuando la hermana mayor nació, su mamá tuvo apenas 16 años. Yo tengo una hermana menor y mi mamá tenía 29 años cuando nací. Desde niño, Gus nunca estaba sólo, siempre jugaba con sus hermanas y veía como era ser parte de una gran familia. Yo también era parte de una gran familia con mis tíos y abuelos, pero también tenía que saber como ocuparme solita porque vivía sola con mi mami hasta que naciera mi hermana (cuando tuve 7 años). Cuando era niña, no eramos ricos, pero el dinero era suficiente para vivir una vida tranquila en el pueblo y generalmente, no me restringía en lo que quería hacer (por ejemplo algún deporte o excursión). Gus en cambio vió cómo a veces no había suficiente dinero y los papás no comían para que sus hijos podían comer.

Gus nació en 1987 y cuando era niño, todavía era aceptado que papás pegaran a sus hijos cómo forma de educar y enseñar disciplina. Una educación baseada en disciplina y castigos era típica, hasta con una relación distante entre padres e hijos. Eso era algo inimaginable en Alemania en mi niñez en los años 90! Ahí era educar con amor, demostrar ese amor y tener una relación basada en amistad y confianza entre papás e hijos. A Gus sus papas le dieron algo de dinero para comprar su lunch en la escuela o de vez en cuando le dieron un sandwich envuelto en servilleta así que el papel se pegaba con el pan y no se podía separar nunca más. Mientras tanto, mi mamá me mandaba a la escuela con un tupper lleno de fruta o verdura picada, pan integral, yogur y una rica bebida para que me podía concentrar bien en la escuela. Yo me fui en bici a la escuela y en la tarde salía a jugar en las calles con mis primos. Sin preocupaciones y con felicidad, siempre sabiendo que mi mamá me esperaba con la cena cuando regresaba. Hasta hoy, siempre ha sido normal para mi, sentir el apoyo de mis papás. Desde que estaba en la universidad, es decir a partir de los 22 años, he sido independiente de mis papás, pero es un sentimiento muy bonito saber que si hay algún problema, financiero u otro, puedo contar con mis papás y me ayudan con gusto. Al contrario, Gus se salió de su casa cuando tenía 18 años para ir a vivir en la Ciudad de México. No tenía ningún apoyo para estudiar y tuvo que aplicarse mucho para crear su futuro.

Sé que crecí en un lugar muy seguro y de forma muy cuidada y estoy muy agradecida por eso. Pero la verdad, hasta ahora no siento que he llegado muy lejos con mi vida. Aproveché las oportunidades que me ha dado la vida pero hasta ahora no siento que he hecho algo excepcional. Gus al contrario, ha creado un negocio exitoso que ya le dura 12 años y que le permitió estudiar y cuidar a su mamá. Para él, ese logro y en general oportunidades no son algo que recibió “automaticamente” pero algo por lo que se tiene que esforzar y luchar. Gus es agradecido para todo mientras para mí a veces es algo “normal” – la comida en la mesa o el bienestar de nuestros papás.

 

A multilingual marriage

One of the things that distinguishes the marriage of Gus and me from others is that we speak different languages. My mother tongue is German, Gus’ mother tongue is Spanish. During the first couple of months of our relationship, Gus and me communicated in English. This was the time when I had just started to learn Spanish and my Spanish was rather ‘bumpy’ at the time. Luckily, Gus speaks well English which definitely doesn’t apply to most Mexicans. After about 4 months of knowing eachother, we changed to Spanish at some point. At first, it was a bit weird. I don’t know if you have ever noticed this, but when you meet somebody new and start communicating with him or her in one language, it is weird to switch the language and you will most likely feel a bit uncomfortable at first. However, if you speak several languages with one person from the beginning of your relationship, it doesn’t feel weird at all to switch between two or more languages with this person. Anyways, this was just a brief moment of weirdness and it was definitely the right decision to switch to Spanish at that point. Communicating in Spanish for us means, that Gus speaks his mother tongue and I always have a slight disadvantage. Of course, this disadvantage was bigger before when I was just learning Spanish and got smaller over time, but it will still always be there. This is nothing bad, it’s just the way it is. On the other hand, I understand (almost) everything Gus says, he however, doesn’t have a clue what I am talking about when I talk in German. To be honest, I don’t know how it feels for him to not be able to understand me in certain situations.

Having a multilingual relationship has a lot of advantages because you have a huge motivation to learn a new language or to get better at a language you already speak in order to improve communication. If both spouses speak several languages, you can switch depending on the people you’re with and either switch to their language or switch to another one if you don’t want them to understand you 😉 It means, understanding your partner in different ‘versions’ and having a connection independent from language. You realize, that communication doesn’t depend on language, because every language has different forms of saying and describing something and these can be pretty different. Depending on the language you talk in, one partner has an advantage and can help the other one in communication. It’s also interesting to see, how body language, tone of voice etc. changes depending on the language you talk in at that moment. Gus’ voice is lower in Spanish than in English, my body language is more expressive in German than in Spanish.

Of course, for Gus the different languages in our relationship can also mean great fun, when he makes a joke that he knows I will have trouble understanding and sees me trying to figure it out (see spanish article ‘Deslices linguisticos’). Or when he makes me say something funny or naughty and I don’t have any idea what it means.

However, sometimes there are also small problems because of the lack of understanding due to different languages. Gus can get impatient when I don’t get him or we simply talk at cross-purposes and get angry. I guess, this happens in every relationship but it can be pretty demotivating or even depressing, when it’s because of the lack of knowledge of another language that you think you speak well. Sometimes I just don’t get why we aren’t on the same page when I think I make myself perfectly clear and don’t see why Gus doesn’t understand me.

Another disadvantage is that there are certain linguistic borders. In German, I would probably make use of a saying that fits the situation perfectly. Then I try to translate the meaning of the saying to him in Spanish and I just see his face with a big interrogation mark and I see that he doesn’t have a clue what I am talking about. So I just leave it at that and think, one day he’ll understand when he can speak German.

#marriedtoamexican

 

 

Long distance relationship with happy ending

Today I want to talk about the time of Gus’ and my long distance relationship. There is a saying in mexican Spanish: “Amor de lejos es de pendejos” which means “Long distance love is for idiots”. When you hear this, the motivation sure gets a boost.

I just want to lay out the situation for you: Gus and me had a long distance relationship for a little more than 3 years. This was the time when I was studying in Giessen, Germany, and he was studying in Mexico. You might ask, “Why didn´t you, Hannah, study in Mexico or why didn’t Gus study in Germany?” Well, for Gus it was not possible at that moment to leave Mexico and go study somewhere else, luckily, this now has changed 🙂 And me, well I have to tell you that there are clear advantages to study in Germany – it is a lot cheaper to get a good education than in Mexico, the careers are much more flexible in the sense of internships, student exchanges etc. and a lot of careers we have in Germany, simply do not exist in Mexico or they only exist in very few universities through out the country.

So whilst we both were students, we were geographically seperated. Anyone who has had a relationship like this would always coma and ask us: “Isn’t it difficult? How do you do it?” To be honest, it never seemed very dificult to us, at least it wasn’t something impossible to do and we both new that it was worth so much to wait a little bit until we would see eachother again. On average, we saw each other every 6 months during this time. Sometimes it was just 3 or 4 months and sometimes even 7 or 8. When we saw eachother, the time together was always very intense – at least one of us was on holiday and therefore had a lot of time for the other one. Time was precious and we used it 100%. We did an awful lot of travelling during this time, especially around Europe. We spend the whole time together, just without going to the bathroom together. When we were apart, the most important thing for us was to let the other one be a part of your life even if he or she is so far away. So we communicated daily via facebook and WhatsApp, we talked on Skype once or twice a week and invented the ‘photo of the day’. By sending one picture daily of anything regarding our day, we had the feeling to be more a part of the other one’s life than with just talking and explaining. Over the years we had a lot of ‘photos of the day’ from food, our friends and family etc. Communiction is super important for a long distance relationship. So if you ever are in one – do not let all the circumstances interfere with your communication between one and the other. Gus and me also had the difficulty of the time difference. When I woke up in Germany, Gus was still sleeping (7 hours difference) and when I went to bed he still had half a day to come. We got into the habit of writing something for the other one to read when he or she woke up. I really loved to wake up and the first thing I would do was reading from Gus.

A key to surviving the time without eachother is to keep yourself busy. We both had a lot going on with our studies, work, hobbies etc. which makes time go by faster and therefore it feels like you see the other one again sooner. So since we were both pretty busy with our lifes and had a place for eachother for example when talking on skype, the only thing we both really really missed was physical contact. You might be surprised, but I don’t mean what you might think now. No, just a plain old hug, a kiss or taking the other ones hand would be totally enough. Because you know that sometimes you just need a hug and feel better immediately…

Another very important point is to know that this is just a temporary situation and that you will not be seperated geographically forever. The goal was always to have a ‘normal’ life together and you definitely need something like this to make things easier. Also it helps during the long distance time when you know when you will see the other one again. Once I or Gus had booked the flight ticket, it was always so much easier for me, because I knew the exact date when I would see him again and the countdown could began.

I have heard of a lot of long distance relationship in different situations and I have to say, that I think it helps, althoug it is not always necessary, to have a good foundation before starting this episode of your relationship. For us, it really helped, that I had already been living together with Gus for about 10 months in Mexico, before we started the long distance thing. But I also know couples who didn’t have this kind of ‘basis’ and it also worked out well. So, as always – things depend on the people who are involved and ther is not one solution for everyone.

The last thing I want to tell you about this kind of relationships is the goodbyes and the reunions. A long distance relationship is much more intense than a ‘normal’ relationship, because you are either seperated for a long time or together 24 hrs a day. So, the moment when these intense feelings reach its climax is the goodbyes and the reunions. Whenever I had to say goodbye to Gus at the airport and I knew we weren´t going to see each other again for several months, it just literally ripped my heart out. I didn’t want to go, I was weeping and wanted to stop the plane or bus or whatever. I was crying during the flight and people were looking at me like I was crazy. Then, a couple of days after, it was already a lot better, because we would both return to our daily lifes. And after a month or so I was already planning what we would do the next time we would see eachother.

Now the reunions: I have never felt so intense as in the moments before seeing Gus at the airport. It didn’t matter if I was receiving him or if was going to Mexico. During the trip to the airport/ the baggage claim/ the immigration/ etc. etc. everything was too slow, I was incredibly impatient and my heart started beating faster and faster. Until the moment when you stand in front of those doors and you know he is behind there. Whenever we saw eachother in this moment and had the first hug after months, all the tension went away and I was just crying out of happiness in his arms. This huge amount of happiness and luck and love was suddenly in my heart and I just wanted to embrace the whole world.

So, as you can see – a long distance relationship is not for wusses 😉