Normally, I don’t pay much attention to anniversaries and legislated celebrations, but this feels different. There was never another time even close to this time. It appears it was all practice for this time. A year ago today we crossed into Mexico at the border in Laredo, Texas, and we instantly fell down a very deep rabbit hole. As I see it today, we’re still falling and it’s all good.
A friend asked me what I miss most after 73 years in the US and one year in Mexico. I’d say rye whiskey is really high on that list. It’s a problem damn it! Mexican’s are rye whiskey heathens. I need rye for a proper Manhattan, and that’s an entirely different subject. Sinatra said he had some regrets, “but then again, too few to mention.” I have some things I regret not being able to see or do again for sure, but if there is any point at all to making serious changes in our lives, the desire to move forward has to be tops on that list. Forward isn’t by definition the right thing to do. Forward often hurts, and there’s no guarantee it will lead to the best place. Forward simply is forward. What you do with the process of moving forward is what matters. So, do I miss some things? Sure. Does that matter? Not really. We needed to move forward.
I have some good friends who have moved to other countries, and just about every one of them said it would take a year to get things pretty settled. I think when we look at all the dots that needed to be connected and all the infrastructure necessary to make life livable on a day to day basis, I think they were close with that approximation. We got almost all this done in maybe 9 months of almost constant attention to detail. Because of COVID-19 and all the other insanity out there in the world, we thank God we got this done when we did. If we had waited a year, I don’t have a clue how we could have crossed the border today, instead of a year ago, and still accomplished everything as well as we did. You need to be able to focus and stay focused or the craziness can eat you up, even without all these other distractions we currently. When you’re young, you got all the time you need. At the ages of 73/66, we did not have a ton of time, but we did have intent, and intent is the currency for getting things done at any age. We wanted to do it.
The specific issues we had to deal with are way too many to put into one blog post. That's most likely why there are a lot of "Move To Mexico" blogs and books and experts and reports from the road. But for the sake of this note today, we can say the following: we had to decide where to move - we had to get here with a dog in the car - we had to rent a place - we had to find a house to buy - we had to buy it - we had ex-pat visa issues - we had automobile issues - we had insurance issues - we had legacy business issues - we had medical care issues - we had the how to get through a typical day in Mexico issues (huge subject). That's a fair outline list, but wait.....there's more - the biggest issue by far was the issue of how to mentally come to terms with the process every single morning. For that problem, the best thing we ever did was to ignore the fact that everything could suddenly go out of control. The solution was to act as if it wasn't out of control at all and everything was just fine. "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit" W.C. Fields. It works. Seriously, you have to understand, but ignore the facts, and you must believe in the process.
I think the keys to this process included doing our homework ahead of time, the willingness to blindly try things, and understanding there were no other options available, so we had to keep going. If we had thought for a moment “well, we’ll give this a try for six months and we’ll see how we feel”, there is no doubt in my mind we would have failed. We simply had to put one foot in front of the other because there was no other place to put any particular foot. We left the US because of the cost of living, weather, and politics. For us, those issues were game-breakers. I'm 74 now. Just being a senior in the US is tough enough, even without the cost of getting there. Do the math - the budget was just too much for what we had coming in. We lived in the Northwest and that meant winters full of rain and cold. Seriously? I don't think so. When I was 35 it was different. It's different now. The political issue is simple. If you have to think about this concept for even a second, you have bigger problems to deal with.
Those three issues put us in a corner of a sort. Life gets a lot easier and really simple when you run out of choices and find yourself in a corner. I adore corners. Corners allow us to focus. In our specific moving to Mexico situation, the freedom to choose between too many potential conclusions would actually have given us permission to put off making critical interim decisions, and it would have legitimized the option of giving in or giving up. I don’t know Goethe from gout, but I do know in the late 1700’s he said this: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents:” It’s as simple as that - homework, faith that we can manage anything, and a commitment to follow through. That's how you accomplish..........anything.
So, if personally pressed further on the question of what I miss from the US right this second, I would say, in no particular order: rye whiskey, my old friends, fly fishing, real aged steak that tastes like steak, get it done attitudes, the entire subject of retail inventory, pre-planning in both governmental and personal behavior, the Washington Cascade and Olympic mountains, Utah and Arizona sunsets, the feeling I get while walking on the streets of New York, Las Vegas at the corner of Tropicana Blvd and Las Vegas Blvd, passing lanes on state highways, and the legal obligation, as opposed to simply the casual offhanded suggestion to actually stop at stop signs. All of these subjects could be separate stories (like driving in Mexico) - we’ll get back to that. I do miss all that stuff, but I’ll get over it because it’s a process. Those who don’t get over it, end up going back home because Mexico isn’t like home, and no ex-pat has ever made it like home. It’s like Mexico and it won't change for anybody. A huge failure for ex-pats can be the failure to realize the world doesn’t give a crap about the US anymore, and no one looks at the US for leadership or examples of how to live a given life. The US currently deserves that attitude. Mexicans love Americans. They hate America. We'll talk more about this again as well.
If pressed to say what I’ve gained from moving to Mexico, I would say it’s still too early to tell, but the suggestions so far include the following: food, food, food, mezcal, kindness, civility, new friends, affordable cost of living, affordable quality health care, hummingbirds, high desert, tradition, art, culture, history, varied landscapes, weather and a never-ending list of stories for me to tell.
I suppose we should say we miss America, but we do not. I have a conservative friend who said he was sad we didn’t believe in America anymore, suggesting we were deserting America when she needed us most. We did not desert America - We left what America has turned into. America has turned against We The People. We simply didn’t want to live out our last years in a country so full of contention and hate. We miss the idealized concept of America, which in all honesty, probably never existed, to begin with. Ask any black or Hispanic person and they will tell you all about “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Maybe not. So no, we don't miss it. We miss the people. We miss them a lot.
So, from Deb and Atticus and Luna and myself, thanks for all your support and kind thoughts as we sail this small ship of state into our future. It’s been a year in Mexico today. Tomorrow….. tomorrow anything is possible. God speed to you. God speed to every one of us.