This week my husband and I left our Winter home in Mexico bound for the States. After 3 months of perfect weather, (so dull and predictable!) back to where we will spend Spring, Summer, and Fall.
Last year I counted the days (literally x ing them off on the calendar and counting) until we returned, fearing I had made a mistake in retiring early, not sure if this was the right place, wondering if my adaptation to a foreign country and culture were just not going to happen. I had read that a transplant to another country starts off with this feeling of euphoria and excitement exploring all that is new to them only to be brought down to reality in year two. Naturally, I would be different and found my first year to be okay, hearing my daughter’s voice in my head- “It’s so dusty and dirty, why would you want to live here?!” At the end of this Winter, I found myself a bit sad, although happy to return to my furry children, my human children (not necessarily in the order I have outlined!), friends, and family members. I had grown attached to this dusty little village of 10,500 (2010 census) about 1,000 full time folks and 700 snowbirds, a term I have always hated, but have become one! What makes an everlasting experience in this new phase of life are the relationships we make, the connections, the chemistry. We met people that we would never have met in any other setting, from different coasts, different backgrounds, but the most important factor being we are all in similar stages of life. There are some who still work, but have the flexibility to work from anywhere, but most are like me and have retired, seeking a different life style, out of the box thinkers.
Without the pressures of everyday life, a job, commuting, juggling family and career, you can focus on people, really listen, share experiences and begin anew in this third chapter. I found myself relaxed this year, not as reflective, but for the first time being in the present. I saw this little village on Lake Chapala with fresh eyes, smiling as the sunshine beamed in every morning. How can you be grumpy and depressed in a place that birds sing, hummingbirds hum and horses clip clop on quaint cobblestone streets. It is like a Hollywood movie set made to look like an old time Mexican village, except it’s for real!
I learned that material things don’t matter as much. Whether I wear my Cartier Love bracelet or a piece of colorful string who cares! The fancy cars are driven for the most part by Guadalajarans who come for the weekend and people don’t dress in fancy designer clothes, nor do they flash expensive jewelry. Puerto Vallarta or Cancun this is not. It is understated and low key. For a city girl who loved her labels (although I never paid full price! What smart Jewish girl would?!) , I have come to terms with what is important to me now. I did all that stuff, I fell into the upwardly mobile trappings of can you beat this. I am comfortable in my own skin now and none of that is really important to me anymore. I have nothing to prove. I made it in New York and, as the song goes, “If you can make it there…..”
So, as I am back home now, I know that I will return next Winter to my little village of Ajijic a wiser woman than I was two years ago. I have made great friends who I care about, who I can be silly with and drink too many margaritas with, but who’s to remember in the morning! My friends from childhood, college, early 20’s, 30s, are my life long friends, milestone friends, but the life I have ahead of me is as important and meaningful as the life behind me. Crocus are blooming, Winter seems to be going on vacation somewhere else, and the crispness of a new season is in the air. I feel very blessed.
Everybody adapts at a different pace. Give yourself time, cut yourself slack, and understand that if you’ve worked a lifetime (42 years to be exact!) you don’t just step on the brakes and turn the car around.
Embrace the here and now. Be present. Living in the past is a killer and won’t get you anywhere new. The road ahead is filled with wonderful surprises if you just begin walking.
Enjoy the ride
x0x Barclay and Joy