It doesn’t get much better than stepping out of a plane in mid-January into the blue sky and bright sunshine of a Mexican afternoon.
Your down coat that wasn’t always enough to keep out the chill of an Illinois winter is stuffed in your carry-on. The thick socks on your feet are an accessory no longer needed. You reach for sunglasses instead of mittens.
It’s the trade-off you get for living far from long time friends and family. One that might not always seem worth the trade if you’re returning from the vivid colors of an Illinois autumn or the balmy days of a Midwestern spring. But one that is embraced with open arms when returning from frigid temperatures and grey skies.
I stepped off the plane this week and felt happy and at home.
But there was a dark spot to come. I arrived at our house to find the blog site that I occasionally write on filled with tributes to a fellow blogger who had died in a car crash while I was away.
He was a man who would have described himself as a misfit. Whose entire adult life was significantly impacted by mental illness that left him alone and forever searching for a place of comfort, belonging and light. A man who eventually found his own sunshine in the connections he made online, where his wit and intelligence shined.
My time in Mexico is drawing down. Sometime in the next six or seven months I’ll be leaving. Most likely for a place where I’ll need to retrieve that down coat and reaccustom myself to grey skies.
I will undoubtedly miss the warmth that I’ve found in Mexico. But I hope that I’ll leave with a true understanding of why my stay was a happy one.
That my sunshine was found not just in the weather, but in the smiles of the people I met. In their greetings and their acceptance of someone who bungled their language and often made mistakes that were forgiven or overlooked.
That it is ultimately people that give light to our days.
And that the people of Mexico shine as bright as the sun.