this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary, can you believe it? When we first met in 2010, I barely knew anything about you and had absolutely no expectations whatsoever. Even inmy wildest dreams, I could never have imagined the kind of relationship that we would have. When people ask me about you, I can't stop talking. Your picture smiles at me from the desktop everytime I turn on my computer. I talk about you, about your friends, your family, your cooking skills - we definitely share the passion for food and I am so excited to learn more and more about your special dishes. What I also love about you is your pragmatism, you are flexible and never give up. You are modest and incredibly creative, diverse and ambitious in all kinds of ways.
The last ten years were full of experience, emotions and I couldn't be more grateful to have met you. Even and maybe especially the rough times were so valuable because of what I learned through you, about you, about myself, about relationships and about life. With this lette I want to relive our time together, share our journey and my own journey to express my gratitude and love to you.
The fall from cloud 9
It wasn't long before things started to become more challenging, the ups were complimented by more and more downs. After some time, I didn't feel connected to you and much less to myself. I was focused much more on what was going on around me rather than inside me and didn't realize how that was the perfect recipe for my personal unhappiness. I didn't know who I was, who I wanted to be, what I needed or wanted for myself. I didn't know where I belonged and much less where I wanted to belong. Not having this sense of belonging I felt lost, sad and the same negative thoughts were circling in my head all the time.
I soon realized how this state of mind was making me miserable. In that period, I learned so much about who I am, what I need to be at ease and enjoy life. I now know that a sense of belonging is at the core of my mental and physical wellbeing. To me, belonging means that I am surrounded by people that I love, I live in a place that feels like home, I am connected to myself and my purpose.
Today I am grateful for those difficult moments because it was the start of a new chapter. Being in such a low state, it became really clear to me that I needed to change something and climb out of there to reach the next up. I understood that most of the things that are important to me, things that I needed to be at ease and happy, were missing in my life. I couldn't feel a sense of belonging because I was missing meaningful connections and conversations. Other things that made it onto my must-have list were purpose, creativity, a cozy home base, joy and light-heartedness. All of which I was missing in my personal and professional life at that point. Upon that realization, my next steps became crystal clear: I would bring all of those things back into my life and make sure I wouldn't lose sight of them again in the future. I do allow myself to get side-tracked from time to time but I am always keeping an eye on the signs that lead me back to my main road.
Out of sight, out of mind
This is also the mindset I had when we were separated for a longer period of time and over a long distance. While it's hard to admit, the motto "out of sight, out of mind" really is what I went by in that time. I was back in Germany and focused solely on myself and rarely thought about you.
However, Peruvians kept crossing my path and with each encounter I felt that deep down I had not closed this chapter yet. It was bitter sweet - on the one hand I felt the love and passion and on the other hand I felt the pain of what had happend. I couldn't deny the strong connection I felt. My heart beat faster when I thought about you and I could feel how I lit up when I talked about you. Finally, I admitted to myself that I wanted to spent more time with you. But I wondered if it was just the memories of good old times, beautiful places and delicious food - just a summer love which I was misinterpreting as having a real connection.
I had to find out. When my friend Andrea told me that she had visited you, I asked myself why I had not tried everything in my power to go and see you. In that moment I decided to change that. And I did. What would it be like to see you, feel you, spend time with you? Less than a year later, when I arrived in Lima, I knew instantly that I had not been fooling myself. But that this really is and always has been a special relationship. I was received with nothing but open arms, love and joy. Jazmin, whom I had only met once (and that was seven years ago), invited me to stay with her and her sister. We picked up were we had left off so many years ago: we talked, danced, ate and laughed together for days. Rosana and Olinda invited me over for family lunch on Sunday and received me as if I had never been away. The normality of this moment touched me immensely because it was like coming home even though seven years had passed. Now that's a sense of belonging.
The bond had always been there, and I swore to myself not to ever let this much time pass before I saw you again.
No one's perfect
Some of my friends might be a bit tired of it by now but I just cannot keep my joy and emotions to myself that I feel when I think of you. Your bracelet tangles around my wrist, your pictures cover my desktop and walls. I talk about you all the time: words, pictures, stories. And I want as many people as possible to learn more about you and how beautiful you are inside and out.
I know that you are not perfect and I know that you know it - but no person and no place is perfect. You have your dark sides, you can be unfair and cruel - but you are aware of it and have the intention of changing it.
They say you have the best experience when you do not expect anything and I couldn't agree more. I didn't expect any of this when we embarked on this journey. That makes it even more amazing to look back on those ten years and enjoy the unique relationship we have.
We spent a lot of time together and a lot of time apart. It wasn't always rainbow and butterflies. Both of us had our ups and downs but we always managed to find our way back together. When I am with you, your friends, your family, I feel at home, I feel I belong. I am over the moon grateful for the time we have had together so far, for all you did for me, for all you were for me. I am happy to know you and have you in my life. It's almost impossible to put into words how I feel about you but it's a strong love.
How could I not love you - como no te voy a querer.
My beloved Peru.