Some say, cities have their own scent, or a fragrance if you find it pleasant. I have found this to be truth, probably not for every place I have been fortunate to visit, but definitely true for Chihuahua. My parents’ hometown, a city where I spent countless summers and Christmases; a city that, though I will never call it my own hometown, has always offered a certain feel of coming home.
It does have it’s own sweet scent. I am not good at describing what my nose clearly recognizes, but it certainly is unique. It could be its soil, it’s trees, the scarce humidity in the air. Whatever it is, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. A scent that dominates my nostrils as I disembark the plane, just before the smell of fuel plane hits me hard. The day Chihuahua’s airport is developed enough to have a dozen tunnels for passengers coming off the planes, this effect will never be the same. The scent of the city will not be the first welcoming sign. Instead, I will be welcomed by the noises and smells of a busy airport.
During the drive into the city, memories came clearly and quickly to me head. My earliest memories of snow and seriously cold weather; my first “Santa” gifts. My first visit to my newlywed sister who I still miss like the first day she left for her honeymoon. My arrival late one night after a rushed flight, when my grandmother Olga died. The memory of her cold serene body laying there, waiting for us to arrive at her bedside to say our last goodbyes, even after she was already gone. It was Olga who taught me my very first words in English; who taught me how to do dishes, to pace myself while eating chocolate (that one never worked). She used to give me a little white tiny ramekin filled with a dozen or so m&m’s in the middle of the afternoon, during the many summers I spent in Chihuahua. M&Ms were a highly desired snack. One which I savored tremendously, specially since I was only given a few to eat: sharing was out of the question. Nowadays, when I get even the faintest whiff of the colorful little candy pieces, it immediately takes me back to her 60’s kitchen were I had to sit down at her Formica table to enjoy my 12 m&m’s.
I also remembered the last months of her life, her generous figure and powerful and resolved manner reduced to a petite weak body; her once loud and strong voice , that had turned to a barely audible whisper and her moves had turned slow and gentle. Yet, in this ethereal and fragile state, she would ask me to pluck her eyebrows, apply make up to her cheeks and put her clip-on earrings on her very soft and tender earlobes. She was a proud woman. In a good way.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) took her, a little bit at a time, first the muscles, the strength, the voice, then the smiles, the hard yelling at us kids that would dare misbehave, but never, NEVER her pride. And never the tender look in her eyes, a look that was reserved for my grandfather Juan. The only one she aloud to care for her, to put her to bed every singly night during her bed-bound months.
Spending some quality time with my grandmother Olga during her last months, explains a lot about my mother’s own strong will, her self worth and her eagerness to strive, NO MATTER WHAT.
I spent five days in Chihuahua. After my visit, during which I had quite a variety of intense experiences, I left the city feeling exhausted – inside and out. But a good kind of exhausted: I felt weary but content; tired but full of energy inside to start working on some new personal goals. Sleepy but too excited to close my eyes during the 3 hour flight back home.
During these 5 days, I was fortunate, very fortunate, to take part in a series of workshops with several members of my family. These sessions were actually the reason for my trip. I was not expecting to learn so much about my self so I was tremendously surprised and impressed with the quality of the Counselors and the effectiveness of every exercise I took part in. A 40 page booklet was given to each of us, and while I do not intend to copy its contents into my blog for lack of relevance in some if its pages, I do feel almost obligated to share some simple and wise principles that could very likely be useful to anyone that is reading this.
We should be able to attain happiness on our own , with our on resources, in our very own circumstances. We should not depend on an external element to reach that state of mind: not a spouse/partner, not a child, not a job. It should be self fulfilling. If along the way we have a loved one(s) to share this happiness with- great! If not, that should not diminish our accomplishment of being happy.
Our state of mind, our mood, even our countenance, should not be determined by another. We should not let another person be our emotional thermometer.
Body language is as important as verbal language. When we want to deliver a message that is important and serious business, then act like so: eye contact, good posture and sitting or standing right across our recipient will most definitely assist in making our message come across with sincerity and clarity. Same thing when we listen, really listen, maintain eye contact. It is very difficult to comprehend and grasp a message when we are texting, writing, cleaning while we “listen” (even when you say “go on, I am listening!”)
When talking or listening to children, procure level eye to eye conversations.
Learn to accept that our way is only one way: there are other ways to accomplish a same goal, and instead of refusing to widen our views, we should not only respect other people’s ways but hopefully learn from them.
Take what others give you gladly without expecting or wanting more. Just enjoy the gift as it is.
These are just some of the ideas I have fresh still and wanted to share.
Spending time with many loved relatives, aunts and uncles that I have always loved and admired, made me feel very much part of a bigger unit: my extended family. I felt loved, admired and cherished by them.
My sister (who was my hostess too) made me coffee and a healthy start breakfast every single morning and brought it to my room. Such a simple gesture and yet I felt like a pampered guest at a 5 star resort. My very good friend from Elementary school (who I still consider one of my best friends) took me to the movies and the most scrumptious street tacos. Add to that: we went to get manicures together. I forgot what it feels like to get so much attention so I enjoyed every second of it.
Chihuahua has grown. A lot in fact. There’s traffic. There’s pollution. There’s dozens of US fast food chains. There’s graffiti and poverty. There’s many new neighborhoods that clearly mark the different social strata. There’s Audis and there’s beautiful country clubs. World class restaurants and upscale Salons.
But deep down, the humble demeanor of its people is still hanging in the air.
In the eyes of the lady at the cheese shop, or the bakery. There’s infinite courtesy as you are waited on at a restaurant or assisted at check in at the airport. It is still a small town. A kind, friendly and slow paced town full of people that get up every day to work hard, to endure the cold, to share a smile, even when there’s some fear in their hearts.
I will always feel welcomed here. It will always make me smile, even when there are tears in my eyes.
My childhood memories are many. I take them with me to many places and I feel blessed for reliving them. They bring me joy and they remind me that my children are creating their own…right now.