I started a blog in 2011 and fizzled out after about six weeks. It was called Wrestling with Restless, and that could still be a perfect theme for me.
I’ve got a great life, from any outside perspective. I’m healthy. I have friends and family I’m connected to. I’ve got an interesting job that pays decently and has good benefits. My condo is beautiful and my son is out of prison and doing well. I live in an area where the cost of living is reasonable and you can always find a parking spot. We’re big on the arts—we’ve got loads of theater companies, symphony orchestras and chamber orchestras and operas, modern and traditional art museums, and sports teams. Not that I care about sports.
It’s clean here. It’s green. We have good tap water. It’s diverse—not like New York City diverse, but we’ve got the largest populations of Somali and Hmong and Burmese immigrants in the U.S. There’s an international airport 10 minutes from my house but there’s also a state park with a lake and two rivers 5 minutes from the airport. We’ve got light rail and bike lanes and farmers markets and microbreweries and farm-to-table restaurants and someone has even proposed opening a mill to make artisanal flour. We’re one of the most progressive states, politically. We’re always on those lists like “Top 10 Cities for Working Moms,” “Best Overall Quality of Life,” “Greenest Cities,” “Most LGBT Friendly Cities,” and on and on.
So why would I want to leave?
When I turned 40, in short order my boyfriend dumped me, I was fired from my job, and I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. So I did what anyone would do—I booked myself into a one-week Spanish immersion class in Mexico.
I looked out the plane window as we flew over Mexico City. I timed it—20 minutes to fly across from one end to the other. That’s a long time! I had never traveled to a developing country before, except to Cost Rica the year before with the ex-boyfriend, and we had stayed at a luxury resort. When the exit doors of the airport slid open, a hundred men started yelling and waving at me. “It’s a riot!” I thought, but they were only taxi drivers trying to get my business.
I picked the closest one, who took me to the hotel where I would spend one night before taking a bus to my school, in Cuernavaca. At the desk, the clerk asked me, “Cual es su nombre?” and I answered “Uno,” thinking nombre must mean number, as in how many are in your party. He somehow got my name out of me, then rattled off the list of things desk clerks tell you, including that something was “el sexto.” I clutched my belongings about me and hurried off to my room, where it dawned on me he had been saying “sixth floor,” not propositioning me for sex.
That’s right, I spoke only about 10 words of Spanish. I sat in my tiny concrete room trying to memorize the key phrases I would need to buy a bus ticket and get to Cuernavaca the next day. There was one very small, square window near the top of the high ceiling, and all night I heard what sounded like a rabid baboon baying. There was no glass or screen on the window. Could whatever it was get into my room? Why hadn’t I brought that mace someone had given me as a parting gift and which I had left at home to show how worry free I was?
As is usual with my series of posts, I will eventually make a point that that connects to my original question.
But until then: I have mentioned a lot of companies on this blog—Bob Barker, Pillow King, Mega Bank, Industrial Chemicals, Inc, etc.—always with withering disdain. I am happy to now highly recommend a company called Amerispan. I went to Mexico three times and to Spain once to study Spanish with the help of Amerispan. My niece used them to do the same in Costa Rica. More about them next time.