Another Lily Pad

It must be wonderful, I sometimes imagine, to live your whole life in a bucolic little village somewhere in the world. Old stone cottages dotting winding roads, rolling green hills, sheep grazing everywhere, plump and happy cows that wear bells, everyone knowing everyone else and everything about you (because they’ve known you since birth), right down to your favorite color (mine: teal). The sense of security, deep-rootedness, and belonging must be beautiful. It’s beyond my comprehension.

Next week I’ll be moving again. This will be, by my rough count, the twenty-third time I’ve changed residences since I left my family home in northern New Jersey when I was eighteen. My mother thought our suburban hometown was the center of the universe; I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to leave it. I remember having had vague dreams at that time of seeing the world – not just whizzing through on a tour bus or in a rental car but actually living in far-off places for years at a time and experiencing those places like a native. That dream, it appears, has pretty much come true.

After living here and there for the past many years, I’m now a legal, permanent resident of Mexico, and I’m deeply grateful to be here, with no intention of ever leaving. For the past four years I’ve been living happily in an affordable little studio apartment (which I’ve affectionately referred to as my “penthouse”), in a funky old apartment complex in San Miguel de Allende.

I’d thought, I’d hoped, my happiness in this place would last forever. The light, the western view (sunsets!), the peace and solitude, the birdsong, the good and kind Mexican people I’ve come to know nearby, the tiny geranium-and-bougainvillea-filled patio, the thirsty neighborhood hummingbirds that drink at my feeder from dawn to dusk year-round…

I remember Francisco, the manager of this complex, telling me when I moved in in June 2016, “Don’t worry, Bonnie. You will always be safe here. This is your home. We are family here.” But, sadly, this place is now for sale and will likely be demolished. I’ve had to find another lily pad.

So this week I’m packing up and downsizing once again: Giving things away, filling boxes, taping and labeling them, then stacking them high. My beloved “penthouse” looks like a warehouse now. It’s almost unrecognizable. I was sad when I knew I had to leave it. I cried for a day. Then I picked myself up, and, with the help of dear friends in SMA, found another small and affordable place across town.

Moving house is stressful at the best of times, but these (as I don’t need to tell you) are not the best of times. We are all, all over the world, I think, going through a time of great upheaval – experiencing tremendous pain, loss, anxiety, and uncertainty – due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. What does the future hold? Nobody knows. The peaceful, serene little village scene of my imagination seems like the stuff of fairy tales.

But one of the great benefits of having lived a long time (I’ll turn 75 soon) is the ability to look back and see where you’ve been, what you’ve been through, and what helped get you through it. One Shakespeare quote, from As You Like It, has always come to my rescue: “Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head…”

That jewel, I believe, is wisdom. Difficulties are teachers that strive to teach us wisdom, and along with that, resilience. We’ll get through this — if we focus on that jewel — I’m sure. We must emulate nursery-rhyme Jack and “be nimble.”

I’m finding it helps right now to think of myself not as a contented old villager who waves benignly and knowingly to the occasional passerby but as an elderly frog who’s been hopping from lily pad to lily pad across a grand pond for most of her life. My twenty-third lily pad lies just ahead. Excuse me while I return to packing to move onto it.

36 thoughts on “Another Lily Pad”

  1. Bonnie … What a lovely, touching piece. So sorry you have to find a new lily pad! There’s little as comforting as one’s nest (my notion of home) and I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have to move. I’m currently living away from my lily pad (nest) at my daughter’s an hour away from the city. Couldn’t bear the urban angst and fear back in March… I miss my home terribly now. Wishing you all the best. Your chronicles make me want to come to Mexico – someday, god willing, when it is o.k. to take a journey! With love and good wishes for ease, Mag

    1. Thanks so much for your love and good wishes, Mag. Yes, you must come down to SMA and see it for yourself, when these pandemic fears-of-flying have passed. I’m looking forward to settling in to my new lily pad/nest next week! Stay safe and well.

  2. Sorry, Bonnie. We had to relocate about a year ago, and I understand the work and the stress. But you seem to possess the proper “zen” to deal with it. I hope you find a different paradise.

  3. Wishing you many years of happy times in your new home. I know you’ll make it lovely. Hugs, Helen

  4. Love this entry, Bonnie! Your resilience scontinue to amaze me after all these years. Ive only lived in 7 places in my lifetime.

  5. Bonnie querida, I am sure you will make the new lily pad as beautiful and welcoming as the old one. I am happy to read that it is vibrant. ¡Ah, los colores! Take care and keep safe, cuidate mucho,

  6. I had to count—I have enjoyed 13 different places in 5 states! But that does not count my second home in San Miguel where I am about to acquire a new neighbor but old and dear friend. I couldn’t be more thrilled! Welcome to my pond!!
    Suz

  7. Que lastima, Bonnie. I’m sorry you have to move but you are so resourceful–how great to easily find another place so quickly. And I am super impressed that you got your permanent citizenship in Mexico–not an easy feat. Which is what you always land on–squarely on your feet. Take some photos of your new view when you settle in! Lots of love for a seamless move.

    1. So good to hear from you, dear Brigid. First, a correction: I don’t have Mexican citizenship; rather, a permanent residency card. But I’m happy with that! And, yes, “thanks” to the pandemic, more affordable rentals are available right now. I feel fortunate to have found what I did. I’ll post photos asap. I hope all is well with you and Fred.

  8. Bonnie, if I know you, you’ll make even more friends, and create a lovely new home for yourself. Wishing you happiness on your new pad! Marge

  9. Dear Bon,

    I had no idea you were moving. It is an incredibly stressful process. I wish I could help you.

    Love,
    Paul

  10. A lovely reminder of who we are…I hope this hop brings you closer to our side of the pond! I share the same wished for village fantasy. I had a plate (back in the day when I had only one plate) with an image of just such a village. May this change bring ease and joy, Stay safe and stay well, my friend.

  11. I loved your little roof top casita! But, I’m sure you will make your new home just as sweet as you did your last. What colonia will you be in? Glad to know you are “moving” on!

  12. Bonnie, I’m sorry you have to move but it seems to me that here in my third age, life has dealt me more and more changes and more and more moves. Certainly not what I expected retirement to be. But each one has been a challenge and once I adjusted, it was a good change. I know that once you are on your new lily pad you will find peach and joy.

    1. Thank you for your good wishes, Billie. Yes, I have no doubt that the new lily pad will be a joy. I’m looking forward now to hopping onto it! Stay safe and well, BB

  13. Bonnie, your perspective on this need to move is optimistic. Hope you are very happy in your new place and neighborhood.

  14. Oh, that is so sudden for me. It is nice to hear your New place seems as nice as the one I loved though.

    1. Yes, M-L, it’s happening so fast, my head is spinning. But next time you visit SMA you’ll see that my new lily pad is sweet! I hope you are safe and well. — xx

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