Buster relaxes in the hammock for the first time!
What is the dream? Obviously everyone has a unique dream life, so I can only address this issue from my point of view. Jim and I lived the dream. We spent twenty years in Hawaii. Most people dream of a week there. For the first ten years in Kona we were happy at our jobs, which were also a dream. Diving and driving boats, watching whales and sailing around the islands sounds very romantic, and it is! We worked hard and played hard. Then we decided we were supposed to grow up and get real jobs. Our jobs were real, so I don’t know what confused us so much. I guess it was turning forty. We felt we had not met the anticipated family requirements of adulthood and responsibility. So we took indoor jobs. So much for living the dream in Hawaii. We stopped driving around the island after our numerous visitors’ tours. We stopped going to the beach and we burned out on boat jobs. Eventually we found it difficult to make it out to a friend’s house for dinner, we became such home bodies. We were no longer the professional partiers we were so proud to have been.
Once Jim became ill, Hawaii became our nightmare and not our dream. We had our circle of family and friends and overwhelming support from all of them, but the lack of medical care and the ever increasing cost of living there made it all a giant stressor. And the air. The air was my worst nightmare. I felt better living in Mexico City where the toxic air is infamous, than I did in Kona where the government insists there are no negative effects from breathing heavy metals and sulfur dioxide fumes.
After Jim passed away, I could no longer face my job. Frankly I could not even face the supermarket, because Jim had so much trouble eating his last year. I also felt like the leftover half of “Jim and Lin” and it left me empty inside. So I created a new dream. It took a while, but I am persistent and I am a survivor.
Now I am living in Mérida in the Yucatán Peninsula of México. I have always loved México, especially this area. I know it is a big dirty city of a million people. But it is the cleanest city in México! And it is relatively safe. These people have their own form of aloha spirit, which I feel is more alive and evident than what I felt when I was falling from grace in Hawaii.
I own my house. For the first time in my life I am neither paying rent nor a mortgage. This is a freedom I never expected to realize. My utilities and other monthly costs are a slight fraction of my former life in Hawaii. Today I feel I am not only living the dream, but living a life of luxury. I looked up luxury in the dictionary. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, luxury is “Something that is not essential but is conducive to pleasure and comfort.”
To give you an idea of what luxury is to me, let me describe a typical day in our lives. Last night I was sound asleep in the hammock,and when I woke up Buster was proudly sitting on my lap. This was his first attempt at hammock relaxation. He seemed so proud of himself for getting up there and surprising me. I look like I am half asleep in the photo, but Buster looks so content. This made me happy. This morning our momma kitty, Moka, woke me up at 5am to get my attention. She then brought little Busmo out for his first meal of Whiskas morsels. I brought the other kitties. Today is their one month birthday. First solid food and first time out of the box to romp and play. Wow! How fun it is to watch them grow. When their little bodies twitch in their sleep, are they growing?
After the morning feeding and playtime, the folks arrived for aquatic exercises. Before I lived here I was unable to force myself to get any exercise. Now I have a swimming pool. It is not the largest or most impressive swimming pool around (it is the ONLY one!), but it is a huge luxury that I have always had a desire to have. I felt if I had a pool I would use it. Minimally I exercise five days a week at 8am for an hour. At this time of year it is extremely hot and humid in Mérida. After I work up a sweat during the day, say walking to the corner store, for example, I jump into the pool and cool down, usually swimming or jumping around for a while. With the swim school in operation, several people enjoy the swimming pool every day. Pablo and I have also been known to put on some Chico Che music and dance in the pool at midnight. The pool has already provided plenty of joy for us, our friends and students. There is no better way to cool off or lower the body temperature than hanging out in the shady area of the piscina for a while. Ok, so the toddlers pee in the pool and we have to clean it once or twice a week….totally emptying and refilling it. Luckily the water comes from a well on the property, so the utility bills do not rise and fall according to urine levels.
Some kinds of work are very rewarding. Teaching a skill to a person is one of them. Teaching scuba diving has been my favorite employment during my adult life to date. I am getting emotional sitting here trying to figure out how to describe the gratification an instructor can feel upon completion of swim/dive lessons and open water experiences with students. Seeing someone overcome a fear or become comfortable in a whole new environment is the reward in itself. I was elated to see Pablo so thrilled after scuba diving for the first time in April, and I see him jubilant when his students learn to swim and have fun in the process. The joy is apparent on his smiling face, and on the faces of the kids, their families, and watching this daily makes me happy.
We have a housekeeper. Her name is Pilar. She showed up at the door almost a year ago looking for work. I was under construction and not ready. This year, with all the traffic involved with operating a school six days a week, and me trying desperately to write and having trouble sitting down long enough to concentrate, Pilar is a godsend. She makes us fresh fruit juice in the morning and cooks up a nice lunch, with fresh salsa and tortillas. She cleans the house, does laundry, irons, you name it. She is great. I hope we can continue to earn enough to afford this particular luxury, as it is new adventure for both of us. We are actually eating correctly, and I am sitting down to work on a regular basis.
Pablo. He is a miracle, a dream, AND a luxury. We did not intend to get involved like we have; it just happened and now it has grown. He has lots of talent and good energy. We work, we play, we laugh, we dance; we really have a lot of fun together. He happens to be young and gorgeous, and he treats me like a princess. He makes me happy. Very happy! He helps me maintain my youthful outlook on life! Not everyone approves of us, but we are the ones who have to live with ourselves, and we love being together. I have found a soul mate. Finding one true partner in life is a miracle, I don’t know if there is a word for how lucky I am to have found a second one.
We do not live extravagantly here on 75th street. We entertain ourselves mostly at home when we are not both working. We enjoy playing Risk and other table games. We do not always turn on the TV and usually we watch the Addams Family, Latin American Idol or American Football. We go out to our favorite club where Pablo plays his tambor. It is an odd little place, but drinks are cheap and there is usually good live music. We are trying to make it to a baseball game, the ice rink, the movies, etc, but usually end up at Casa de Todos. On our day off we visit ruins and cenotes, or head to the beach for some fresher air and the sea breeze. And of course to eat fresh conch ceviche and whole fried fish! This is livin’ the dream for me. It may not last forever, but what does? Should we not allow ourselves some time in this short life to live our dreams?