Monday, October 05, 2009

coming home

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again.

At least, depending on how flexible you are with your definition of "home."

I had three specific missions in heading north last month: 1) to get my replacement Oregon driver's license and government identification card; 2) to assist in the opening of the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Salem; and 3) to buy items I cannot find in Mexico.

Two weeks ago, I was reluctant to leave my home in Melaque. When my visit was over, I did not want to leave my home in Salem. I started to wonder if I belong in either place.

My narrow missions were easily accomplished.

On m first full day in Oregon, I quickly had both my Oregon driver's license and my identification card in hand. Polite, helpful clerks. Flexibility in accepting documents. Full explanations of what would happen next. I was pleasantly surprised.

On the full weekend I was there, I attended several lunches, dinners, and ceremonies for the opening of the Kroc Center. Having worked on the project for five years, it looked exactly as I expected it to. The test will be whether the facility will meet its goal of allowing disadvantaged children to exercise their dreams and live up to their own potential. If I lived in Salem, I suspect I would be spending a lot of my volunteer time at the center.

And then there was buying. My first real shopping trip was to Costco. Hardly an exotic shopping experience. I had to control myself there and at Fry's and Nordstrom's. If I had not, my luggage charges would have been incredible - even in First Class. It is funny that finding Off towelettes could be a cause for celebration.

Some bloggers have commented that they felt everything was buzzing and rushing around them during visits to The States. I didn't feel any of that.

Shopping was leisurely. Driving was easy. Everywhere I went where I was known, people stopped what they were doing and took time to talk with me.

But the thing I enjoyed most was the long dinner conversations and the longer early morning conversations (sometimes until 3 or 4; something I have not done since college). As a result, I ended up seeing only about 10 percent of the people I wanted to see.

And that is what made me reluctant to leave.

I have no physical ties to Salem or Oregon. And I certainly have no emotional ties to any houses or towns. They are simply material things -- with no substantial difference from their Mexican counterparts.

What I do miss are the people -- my relatives, my friends, my acquaintances. They are a ready-made audience. If I could pick up about 40 or 50 (I might even settle for 5) of them and transport them to Mexico, I suspect I could say that Mexico will be my permanent home.

But that is not going to happen. And that is the rub. At some point, I either follow Jennifer Rose's advice to settle in an area and build a new network -- or I return to Oregon and drop all this talk about adventure.

I do know one thing, though. I cannot make any decision until I have had an opportunity to discover the adventure that is Mexico. Jiggs has given me a great gift of Independence that I cannot squander.

Starting tomorrow I intend get out to see areas of Manzanillo and La Manzanilla that I have not yet seen. Places I want to see with new eyes.

You can go home again. But home is the place where you exercise your dream.


Karen said...

I am glad you are back blogging. I missed your daily thoughts and observations. I start my day by reading your blog I know I am hooked, and proud of it!!! Glad your time in the US was great just know you were missed.

Anonymous said...

Your post was a much anticipated addition to my morning routine. Of course you had a wonderful time seeing old friends and familiar faces. Thanks to technology you're never really out of touch. I imagine your return to "normal" weather was a welcome relief also. We, are now your captive audience Steve. We, look forward to your posts to observe and enjoy Mexico vicariously.

DanaJ said...

Welcome home to the blogosphere, Steve.

What a great start. A blog about what's going on between your ears and underneath your breastbone.

Calypso said...

Welcome back to Mexico. You seem a bit confused amigo. Perhaps this time for exploration will be a good thing for that.

Hang in there my friend

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Yay! Glad you're back blogging.
Have great fun exploring Mexico, don't even consider moving back until you've experienced the adventures of this wonderful country. And, don't miss the highlands up here! Great weather and good base for exploring.

Billie said...

Steve, those long interesting dinner conversations, involvement with a charity, they are here in San Miguel.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Welcome back! When people ask me if I miss California, I answer not really, but there are people in California that I miss and events that I miss. While my skype was inoperable due to computer problems I really missed my kids. I think you need to live somewhere that you can have a wider range of social life, either near Ajijic or San Miguel it seems. Mérida is probably too hot.

Laurie said...

Hi friend, I often have the same mixed emotions when I visit Louisiana. For me, I have a sense of purpose in Honduras that overrides the difficulties. It's normal, though, to have ambivalent thoughts about your former life, friends, and yes, your home. Buen suerte!

jennifer rose said...

There is the matter of place, and people in their place. Your circle back in the Old Country may fit you well back there, but you may not even like those people were they to transplant themselves in Mexico. Nor they, you. The odds are that you prolly wouldn’t cotton to your Mexican blogging friends back in the Old Country either.

Billie, Teresa in Merida, Felipe and I have all told you to hie yourself to San Miguel. Heed that advice. Sure, you can while away your remaining good years wandering like some lost tribe in the desert – or you settle in, lay down some roots, establish your network, make this your home, and still have those field trips of exploration. But my bets are that you’ll be back in Oregon, looking back upon your sojourn in Mexico as just one more fling.

Nancy said...

Steve, you revealed a lot about yourself when you said you wanted an audience....

I suspect that the familiar surroundings and standing in the community will draw you back to Oregon.

When you move to a foreign country, you start from scratch. Your former job, standing, etc goes out the window and we all start from zero. I love it because my circle of friends includes many people from walks of life that in my old life I probably would never have met.

I hope you have fun exploring, I look forward to hearing what you think of one of my favorite places, the city of Colima.

Irene said...

Glad to have you back blogging. Oregon is a great place to be anytime of the year but autumn is especially beautiful, and nothing beats spending time with family and friends. Enjoy exploring Mexico in the coming months. I have a question for all those extolling the virtues of San Miguel Allende. If what you want is the company of people just like you what is the point of moving to Mexico? This is perhaps an impertinent question but I am curious.

Anonymous said...

So glad to read your blogs again!! They were greatly missed. You are finding out what you know is important in your life. You are experiencing what we learned through our many adventures in Mexico and other places around the world. If you are not content in your personal life it doesn't matter where you are. We found that friends, conversations and a reason to get up each day was what was important. It didn't matter what part of the world you were in. We eventually returned home and did some soul searching. Yes, the USA is the most amazing place in the world and we really found out how much we loved it. We remodeled our home and now are much more comfortable in it and are planning our next trips to where ever we chose to travel to. For the present time we are loving just being here in Oregon and being in the moment. Take your time now and explore and enjoy. But, I think you now know how important relationships are. Without relationships one begins to sink slowly into somewhat of a depression and that is not a good thing. It is your dreams and hopes that keep one excited about life. Remember to do what you want to do and don't let yourself get tied down to someone else's commitment. We are dreaming about Thailand or Hawaii or a cruise or ?????? However my husband is facing surgery where his aortic value is being replaced. So we must be content being here for 8 weeks of healing and then we'll decide what to do next. We know one thing and that is we always need to have a trip off in the horizon. The planning and research is wonderful. I do envy your many relationships you have in Oregon. They are a big part of your life. Treasure and nuture them. You have the ability to change lives one person at a time. I know you have learned so much about yourself. Adios for now.

glorv1 said...

Glad to see you are back blogging Steve. Whether you were in the United States or Mexico, I would read your blog. As far as where you will "really" settle, is I suppose what lies in your heart. Enjoy yourself while you make your decisions. Nice to see you!

Brenda said...

Welcome back. Glad you enjoyed your visit north.

terri said...

Welcome back! I can now continue my morning ritual of reading your blog, which I also use as a jumping board to other blogs. Although I don't live in MX, I agree with the others suggesting you try SMA for the mild weather and all there is to do in the region.

Cynthia Johnson and Mike Nickell said...

Having walked in your shoes...moved to Mexico...moved back to the Great's a no brainer to me!
You'll figure it out. But I agree you should get off the coast, out of the heat and humidity, and see what you think.

Cynthia Johnson and Mike Nickell said...

Having walked in your shoes...moved to Mexico...moved back to the Great's a no brainer to me!
You'll figure it out. But I agree you should get off the coast, out of the heat and humidity, and see what you think.

Constantino said...

One of these days you will figure out what you want to do when you grow up!
Hopefully it will take you a long time.
Once you figure it out, you will then need to find another mission, otherwise you will fester and die like all the others who have lost their purpose. Sounds like you need a definite purpose one of which is immersion in volunteer work. Not going to find that in your little beach community.
SMA is calling, if you can handle the other souls looking for that purpose...
Glad to have you back here, at least you seem closer now.
Welcome back, the cooler season is coming!

Glenn said...

Sometimes you can go home again. Still, it´s possible to find "home" in México and\or another part of the world.

Ernest Hemingway said: ...I feel it´s another home, and any time a man can feel where he´s meant to go.

The exploring part can be exciting. I´m dreamin' of Chile.

Anonymous said...

I was happy to see your blog this morning but I almost missed it because of the different picture. I assume the picture is of people up in Oregon.
Hope you enjoy your future travels in Mexico.

Babs said...

In answer to Irene. I, for one, have met people in Mexico that there would have been little possibility of meeting them in my old life. For instance, the former Italian movie star whose son is now the #1 Italian male star. Or the Thai prince who came through on a photo journey. Add to that all those who hang out around town in clothes that make you think you need to give them a dime. They've had the BIG and RICH life and LOVE the anonymity. You don't really know who they WERE until those late night conversations after a delicious meal. I've NEVER met so many accomplished men and women in my life. AND, I wasn't a slouch in the USA. But it is different here. Most everyone is here because they want to be. It lends a whole different ambiance to life.And, all the ex-pats are definitely NOT Americans or Canadians. It's exhilirating.

1st Mate said...

Welcome back to Mexico. We've missed you, but we'll read your blog no matter where you're writing it.

mdoneil said...

Welcome back. Home is wherever you hang your hat.

I have more than one hat. You can too.

Anonymous said...

I also recommend you try SMdeA but skip Ajijic/Chapala....too many old grumps who are frequently in their cups in the latter....

Also, I want to know what you bought that you weren't able to get in Mexico...K

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Irene asked "I have a question for all those extolling the virtues of San Miguel Allende. If what you want is the company of people just like you what is the point of moving to Mexico? This is perhaps an impertinent question but I am curious."
My impertinent question to Irene is, do you ask the people who live in Chinatown in San Franciso,little Poland in Chicago or Brooklyn, Calle Ocho in Miami or Japantown in Oakland the same question? where ever immigrants go, they tend to first move to places where their fellow countrymen congregate. It's usually the 2nd generation that ventures out into other neighborhoods.
Why are people so quick to point fingers at gringos who move south and want to hear their native tongue or eat familiar foods but don't think twice about going to a Thai or Mexican restaurant in their hometown? Should pho only be served in Vietnam and French only spoken in France?

Canadiangrl said...


So glad to hear that you had a good visit in Oregon and were able to reconnect with family and friends.

I have been thinking about you - hope you are well. It was a big adjustment for me after my 17 yr old boarder collie "Murphy" recently passed. I still wake up in the morning expecting her to be beside my bed waiting to go out...

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Please excuse my bluntness ...but, "What in the hell are you doing in Mexico?"

I have retired relatives living in Mexico, but they are there because they did not manage their finances well while they were working and now have few options. From what I have read of you and your life; a retired, single attorney with no major disclosed medical problems - I simply cannot wrap my head around the fact that you are even considering retirement in Mexico.

Having grown up in Phoenix, I have spent my fair share of time in Mexico. I can honestly say that it is a place I like to visit from time to time, but I would never want to live there permanently unless it was required financially.

The only adventures I have experienced in Mexico are of the unsavory variety. Unless, of course, you are really excited by the prospect of an STD or having your hard-earned belongings stolen.

If you want true adventure, go to Alberta, Canada and live in the Rockies for a year or two. You won't know what hit you! Who knows, you might actually write a book without the mind-numbing heat of Mexico draining your energy.

Irene said...

Thank you to Babs and Theresa in Merida for their replies to my question. They give me food for thought.

Mic said...

Had a very busy weekend and when there was time for blog catchup, I didn't go far enough back on my Blog Dashboard. Almost missed this first post of your return.

Sounds like a very successful and enjoyable trip. The road trip would have been part of the pleasure I'd think.

Amazing, I expected you would find it cooler down there by October.

Steve Cotton said...

There are days I really dislike this program. I spent almost an hour compsing responses to your great comments. But it is nowhere to be found. Maybe I exceeded some sort of word limit.

Suffice it to say: I am glad to be back.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Yeah, my comment disappeared too. I agree, some days this program is annoying! And today is one of 'em!