Deliverymen letting go trying to fit mattress up the stairs in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I’m Giving Up (And Why That’s A Good Thing!)

Giving Up

I’ve only been in Mexico a month, and already, it is changing me.  I am giving up.  I am giving up a sense of control, the type A personality that I had let cover up my real type B personality of calm, of creativity, of letting things fall where they may.  Back in the US, I owned a house, had a full-time job, plus did side social media work, and somewhere fit in traveling and writing this blog. How did I do this?  By squeezing in as many activities as I could do in a day.  There were no free moments of sitting in the sun to let it hit my face (Ok, I lived in Portland, so I could have had all the free time in the world, and that would never have happened).  Everything was scheduled, planned, and organized.

In Mexico, you can only plan one thing to happen per day.  Things just take longer.  There is no calling the cable company to set up your wi-fi.  You must go in person.  If you need to pay your bills, you go to the utility company and you wait in line.  There is no mailing a check or paying online.  There is no room for type A personalities here.  There is only a learning to be.  A learning to be in each moment, where you take the time to listen to the morning doves, the roosters crowing, the donkeys braying to welcome the morning.

There are two sayings that you will hear often in Mexico.  One is “No problema.”  You will hear “no problema” no matter what you ask for, even if you ask for the man you are speaking with to lasso the moon for you.  The Mexican people do not like to disappoint, and so if you ask for something, they will promise it.

The other phrase that you will hear is “No se preocupe”, which means “Don’t worry.”  They will use this phrase when the thing they promised you is going terribly wrong.  Meanwhile, while you (I) have worry written all over your (my) face, they will look like they are having the best day of their lives.  And they are.  Because they know a little secret.  In the end, it always works out.  They are great at remembering this. This is the beautiful thing the people here are teaching me.  And this is why I’m giving up the old me that never really was me.  The one who worried because she was addicted to that feeling.  She was comfortable with that feeling.  And she forgot how to trust.

The Story

I have had many adventures in learning this since being here, but the greatest one is the story of the mattress.  I found a long-term apartment to move into, and the landlord agreed to buy a new mattress. The only thing is I would need to be the one to go pick it out and arrange for the delivery.  I was pretty proud of myself as I managed to do all of this in Spanish.

Then, delivery day came.  What I did not realize is that the man who brought the mattress and its platform, didn’t work for the mattress company, but was a taxi driver.  He came  bringing the mattress and heavy platform all by himself.  I pointed upwards to the second floor (which is more like on the 3rd floor because of the very high ceilings). He looked at the thick mattress and the narrow stairway and began shaking his head. Things were not looking good.  Instead of a “no problemo”, I heard the words, “I don’t think it will fit.”  “Can we try?”, I begged.  (Me, who won’t give up until I have tried every way possible.) Ok, “no problema.”, he says.  Just the words I had hoped to hear.

We struggled, but we did get the mattress up, and now there was just the heavy wooden platform to be dealt with.  The maid was shaking her head backing forth, saying “¡buena suerte!” (good luck), over and over.  The taxi driver just shook his head.  I grabbed one end willing to at least try.  We barely managed to get it halfway up the stairs (it was SO heavy), and then the driver said he needed to go move his truck.  He left me holding the mattress platform!  I was there for about ten minutes while the maid kept trying to stack furniture on the stairs, so I wouldn’t have to hold it any longer.  Nothing was working.  My arms were shaking.  She kept going and looking outside and just shaking her head.  I realized that he probably wasn’t coming back and stood there trying to figure out what to do.  If I let go, the whole thing would just come crashing down the stairs.

Well, he did come back, but at that point I could no longer lift it any further.  I was worn out.  I told him we needed “dos hombres” to do this job.  He told ME to go find help.  “Ok,” I stammered.  “No problema.” (I’m learning).  I went to the street and yelled out “Ayúdame” to a guy passing on a scooter. I pointed inside. The taxi driver explained in Spanish that we needed help. The scooter guy shook his head and looked at us like we were crazy and drove off.  I finally did get a guy who was passing by to help.  They tried for half an hour and never could get it to the top.

We then realized that the queen size mattress fit just fine on the old double size platform.  We made it work.  However, the taxi driver was unwilling to take the old mattress or the platform back to the mattress store.  He said he had other jobs to do and would come back in an hour.  He never returned.  I called the mattress store, and they sent “dos hombres” this time.  I somehow talked (in Spanish!) one of them into giving the old mattress to his brother, and they took the platform back to the store.

It took all day, but everything worked out.  I had a new mattress, and so did someone else who really needed one.  I never felt stressed.  (The old me that wasn’t me would have been.)  In fact, I found myself laughing about the situation.  I felt grateful for the help of the stranger who tried so hard to make things work.  And that’s why I’m giving up.  I’m giving up struggle, and worry, and fear.  When things aren’t working, I’m going to remember “No se preocupe”, and remember that they are working out….exactly like they are meant to be.

Val Dawson