It’s our three-year Oaxacaversary. Three years ago today, we hopped on a bus in Mexico City and arrived home 6 hours later – but to a home we had never visited and didn’t even know a whole lot about. We came here to work on a project, and had no idea how long we would stay here – maybe a year?? We signed a 6-month lease – the longest lease we had signed in almost 4 years – and jumped in heads first on the latest of many life reinventions.
Daring to imagine a different life is interesting and nerve-wracking enough. But actually reinventing your life in real time is both humbling and empowering – and even though this wasn’t the first time we had done a drastic reinvention, it was no less scary. I’d say it is like taking a leap of faith, but it’s more like taking a leap of faith while driving a vehicle with broken steering and wheels that are kind of coming off. In these sorts of situations, you don’t get to be in control, no matter how much you want to be. You just have to roll with whatever comes your way, and we’ve definitely had moments where we were happy to be a pebble in a river, and other moments where we were determined to be a boulder that doesn’t move. Oaxaca leaves her mark on you either way.
There is something about the light here in Oaxaca. It’s one of the reasons it is so popular with painters and photographers. It’s strong and clean, warm and colorful. It brings so much life to this place, and we’re happy to wake up to it every morning. It reminds me of a song by Leonard Cohen called, “Anthem.”
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Oaxaca has cracked us open in so many different ways, both easy and hard, and then she’s healed those cracks – with just enough room left to let her light in.
Our life in Oaxaca hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been rewarding. Like travel, living here has taught us that the best things in life often arrive when you learn how to let go of the outcome and just let things be. When we came here, we weren’t even sure what we were getting into. But this place has given us so many things we never expected. A new home. Amazing friendships and new branches in our family. A different way of looking at the world, and a new kind of routine that is much more conducive to physical and mental health. Oaxaca has nourished us, both body & soul. (Oh, the tacos! But also the chocolate, and mole, and the tlayudas, and memelas, and chilaquiles…I could keep going, but I’ll stop.) She has provided us with a bilingual lifestyle, and new hobbies, and passions, and dreams. And she’s always ready for a celebration, often bringing them right up to our doorstep if we don’t go looking for them.
Our life looks incredibly different today than we imagined when we came here. We never considered becoming residents of Mexico before we fell in love with Oaxaca. We didn’t expect to make the transition from expats to immigrants. We never considered spending more than 6 months in a place – let alone actually doing it. We set out on our journey in 2012, to explore and learn more about the world, and where we fit in it. We had no idea that we’d find our new home so close to our old home. In the end, we didn’t really find Oaxaca – she found us. She welcomed us in and nurtured us. She still does so every day.
We’re looking forward to seeing what the next three years (hell, even the next year) have in store for us. We’ve learned not to try and make any sort of predictions, but I suspect we will still be here in Oaxaca. Still discovering new things as we wander her colorful streets. Still delighted by whatever new or old adventure that day brings.