This image has been sitting on the desktop of my laptop computer now since late May. Specifically, May 27 2019. That's the morning I took this shot. Since then I've been waiting for an excuse to say something about it. I suppose I was waiting for today.
Today is November 25th 2019. An anniversary of a sort. On November 24th 2018, things were..........I guess you'd say things were getting a little tight. Deb and I were in our house in Gig Harbor, WA near Tacoma. I was 72 and we were looking at the future. It was tight. The photography industry had self-combusted and with it, the financials were.....tight. Trying to figure out where to go and what to do next. The specter of growing old in the US seemed.........bleak actually. America doesn't think much of its seniors. It says it does, but it doesn't. Politics......well, you know the politics. I felt in 2018 we were headed to civil war. All the signs were there. Stupid conservatives and stupid liberals alike. An equal opportunity disaster. I look at it now, and I think I was right. Before this is over, I think people are going to die in a warped collage of distorted blames and faux patriotism, and it's our own fault. All of us. So like I said, it was tight. Trying to figure out where to go and what to do next.
On that evening of November 24th 2018, Deb's brother Eric Hummel made a Facebook post from the east coast, and he said that he and Heidi we're moving to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. The metaphorical result of that Facebook post was literally a bomb exploding in our living room. I think Deb and I both saw the post about the same time. Two bombs in the living room. We both said something to one another that I don't remember, and the room went silent. Deb and I had both been to San Miguel on a vacation a few years earlier and had a great time. But that was it. It was a vacation. We knew and had met expats from the US in San Miguel who were living there and happy as could be. Now it was a bomb going off in the living room. I did not sleep the night of the 24th.
On the 25th of November, a year ago tonight, Deb and I had not spoken about Mexico or Eric's post. We were busy having conversations with ourselves. We were in the middle of dinner when she looked up from her plate and said "I could move to Mexico." A year ago tonight. She could move to Mexico. And we did.
I look back on the last year and a lot of it is a blur, but the other parts,,,,,, the other parts seem to have taken years. I look back and honestly, I don't even know that other guy. I remember bits and pieces, a moment here, a moment there. But mostly I only see Mexico. I wake up in the morning and I'm instantly in Mexico. I dream in Mexico, I don't know that guy anymore. There is simply now and the potential of tomorrow. Gig Harbor is gone, and that other guy.... he was following Sweet Baby James Taylor and last seen headed south to Old Mexico. "Sounds so sweet I just got to go."
I took that photo of Deb and I and Atticus sitting in camping chairs at the windows of the Gig Harbor house the day before we left for San Miguel. Specifically May 27, 2019. It has waited patiently for today..... Happy anniversary boss.
Deb and I crossed the border on June 10. We've been here for a total of 5+ months. At this point, we've managed our way through learning to live day to day. Relatively speaking we've not done much in the way of cultural or travel-related experiences - opting at this point to simply get the house set functionally, understand the process of day to day life, and create an infrastructure around us that sets the stage for the rest of our lives. I've had a lot of experience producing photoshoots, and this is clearly the biggest pre-production project I've ever encountered. Living instead of reacting comes next and we can see it clearly on the horizon in about 30 days. Right around the turn of the holiday season. My expat friends who have made a total conversion to living in Mexico say it takes about a year to clear all the obstacles. How on earth did all this fall together? I don't have a clue. Not one.
So tonight it's been a year since the concept became real, and what have I learned about changing my life? I honestly don't think I've learned a thing. You already know how to do it. You were born with it. You change your life and the best you can do is to trust yourself and get out of your own way. You change your life and all you can do is the best you can. You change your life because that's the only option. Do you learn anything? I don't think so. I think you just become what you say you are.
As to advice for the next person in line? - I can safely say the biggest hurdle for us (and particularly me) has been the level of understanding and patience necessary to deal with the fact that there are no black and white issues in Mexico. There are only shades of grey. Americans need black and white, good and bad, winners and losers, unfinished and completed, this side of the line, and that side of the line. In Mexico, there is no line. There never was and never will be. That can be a tough transition when the American ego believes that reality is simply another thing to control by the sheer force of the American will to do so. And that won't work. America is experiencing that right now. The truth can bite. All that being said, we're doing great and overjoyed at what appears on the horizon line. Only one thing left to do. Go there. Now. Happy anniversary Deb and Walter. Happy anniversary.