Did you know that on this day in Mexican history . . .
I thought that quitting my full-time job was going to allow me to spend more time with my wife and so far that has proved to be true. R and I spend just about all day every day together - going to the gym, getting juice, picking up our puppy's poo - and she claims to still like me more than 50% of the time which is her criteria for not filing divorce papers. I like her too. We have a lot of fun talking about what we should eat for lunch, ways we can make money without it actually seeming like work, and who we should invite over that will bring wine so we can watch the sunset.
When I resigned my government job after 18 years I was making an annual salary of more than $150,000. Comprehensive health insurance for me and the family was costing me less than $400 a month while the government picked up the substantial difference. I had a defined benefit retirement plan and was maxing out my 401(k) annually with an employer match. I got 12 paid holidays a year and over 4-weeks of paid vacation. I also got paid sick leave. My commute was a 30-minute bike ride along the Potomac River.
One of the reasons we chose to move to San Miguel de Allende instead of some other place in Mexico is because we thought it would be easy for the kids to make friends. Among the nearly 15,000 foreigners wandering the streets buying bottled water, straw donkeys, and bad pizza, are a fair amount of gringo families relocated from the United States, Canada, and Europe. We figured at least one of those families would have kids that liked our kids; and maybe even have a parent who would become my drinking buddy.
We are renting a house owned by a U.S. expat named Joyce. We love it, as much for its authentic Mexican feel (it does not have stainless steel appliances) as for the obviously thoughtful touches that Joyce added while having it built. This is despite the fact that our neighbors have 30 very vocal roosters that they raise for cockfighting, which is not illegal in Mexico (according to our neighbor and Google).
With a week to go before we left Alexandria we had a lot on our plates. R was dutifully trying to be as professional and thoughtful as possible in grading her end of semester papers. Coconut and J were on winter break and busy making plans and asking for rides to go here and there to say goodbye to their friends. And I was busy at my office trying to summarize and preserve 18 years of files for the colleagues left behind.
We’ve been home for over a year. The transition back to our pre-trip lives was difficult. As we ruminated in Nicaragua, we ruined our lives by hitting the open road for a year. We were no longer satisfied with the perfectly good house, our perfectly stable and financially secure jobs, and the perfectly fine public school education that Coconut and J were receiving. It was all too stifling and we recognized that though our situation is ideal in many ways, we don't want to live the same year for the next 40 years and call it a life. I guess that’s what you would call a midlife crisis.