About 7 1/2 months ago we arrived in Mexico City. In a week or so, we’re headed back to whence we came, New York City, for a week-long trip.
When I first moved to Mexico, I didn’t miss New York. I’d lived there for about 5 years, and I spent a lot of time in self-imposed austerity mode (renting apartments in questionable neighborhoods, eating lots of home-cooked meals in the world’s best restaurant city, shopping at Old Navy while surrounded by fashionably dressed people). The goal of this was saving for a home, perhaps a modest row house in Astoria, Queens, with a small backyard and within walking distance to the train. That didn’t seem like too much to ask out of life, especially for two people who have worked long and hard, even if their industry happens to be editing and writing, which doesn’t make many people rich. A house is what a lot of people plan for. We would have planted lots of flowers and fed the squirrels.
We came close to buying once, but backed off at the last minute after we thought about what life would be like paying that much for a home — pretty much living without hardly any disposable income whatsoever. Because we weren’t tied down to a barely affordable property, we were able to jump at the chance to move to Mexico City when it came up. We had had great times as tourists here, loved the culture, loved the food, and knew it would be a great adventure. And so far it has.
But I’m still kind of bitter about the New York real estate situation, while also bitterly missing New York, too. And I feel guilty about being angry, because as living in Mexico will teach you, I wasn’t suffering, and I’ve got nothing to complain about compared with people who have to worry about the price of tortillas climbing along with the cost for just about every other basic subsistence food.
Every once in a while, we think about where we might go after our Mexico City time is up. I know that if we had family in New York, I’d be far more convinced of going back, despite never owning a charming one-family house. It’d almost be a no-brainer. But being in New York, when your family is in Texas and Minnesota (or a stone’s throw from those states), is a lot like being in Mexico – it’s a long flight, it’s an expensive trip, and it’s terrible to travel during the holidays. You spend a big chunk of yearly vacation seeing family. And being away from family, you never feel as though you belong, at least not quite like your co-workers or friends who have parents or siblings a quick train ride away.
So, I still don’t know where I want to go next — New York, or Somewhere Else. It’s a perpetually moving see-saw, New York: Yes!, New York: No!
I probably wouldn’t be thinking so much about going home to the U.S. if circumstances here were slightly different. It’s obvious I won’t ever get very good at Spanish, our families are still far away, I’ve gotten terrible bouts of food poisoning three times already and I can only do this work-at-home thing for so long. It’s a lot of various forms of social isolation, on so many levels, and while most of the time I cope quite well, sometimes it seems like too much.
That said, I’m not quite ready to leave, either, especially if I had more time to travel. Being able to explore Mexico is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that I’m wholeheartedly enjoying as I watch Huapango dancers swirl around the dance floor, or stare at exotic, enormous cactus trees from the bus window.