The journey I’m on to find a place to settle down, grow a garden, and hang my art, has taken me to SE Asia and Mexico, so Far. I’m planning on more of Asia in the spring, and Latin America from the summer. In the end, besides affordability and decent medical care, I’m seeking that illusive quality of soul fit. This entails a lot of self-discovery, along with surprises and disappointments.
While living in Asia I found that I’m very comfortable being alone so long as there are a lot of people around nearby. I liked being in my open office while students and other faculty came and went and there was a low buzz in the room. I could segue in and out of the action if I wanted. Usually I didn’t. If the offices were empty and I was there working, I would start to feel isolated. I liked having an apartment in a urban area where I knew the neighbors and shopkeepers, but could go home and close the door.
From this I’ve learned that I want to live in a small enough place to feel connected to people when I want to be, yet able to escape to my own private home. I want that home to have people around and be walking distance to places I can go and hang out. I want to be able to sit in my garden and have folks around. I know that I would feel isolated and alienated in a large apartment building or out in a suburb. It’s good to know this.
I confess that I appreciated that I didn’t speak the languages in the countries I’ve lived and taught. It made the culture and people sort of an abstraction, an intellectual and anthropological interest. There were plenty of local people who spoke English, and I loved getting to know them, but their English was relatively minimal, so there was no risk in getting too intimate or attached. I could move on to the next job and next country. I miss those countries, but the attachment doesn’t sink deep.
Having grown up in Florida and having spent some years in California, Mexican culture lives in a deeper part of my consciousness. My Spanish skills are weak, but they exist. With a native Spanish speaker we can achieve a level of Spanglish that makes a deeper level of communication possible. It’s amazing how much Spanish has seeped into American English.
On my most recent trip to Mexico my Spanish (and Spanglish) conversations went deeper. My grasp of the language has improved, and my commitment to using it has increased. I also acted as the translator/intermediary for my Australian friend I was traveling with. This brought me many degrees closer to Mexican life.
What has this taught me about myself and why I’m here on my blog? I have a better idea, with every visit and every post, of where my soul wants to wake up in the morning. For now I am looking at the broad strokes – eliminating places that don’t meet my sorting list. But when the search is more refined this next year, I hope I will have been someplace that feels like home, that suits.