Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a few years are no doubt perched on the edge of your seats waiting for my annual expression of discomfort about my snow-bird life, about having two homes (okay, three even, if you count the little cottage on the lake), about the sheer and unconscionable extravagance of it all. Yup, it’s all there. The guilt, the angst, the apologies for what feels like sheer self-indulgence. But if the lifestyle itself is self-indulgent, so is the angst. Because if it bothered me that much, I’d have given it up by now, right?
I’ve usually been able to shrug off my personal responsibility for this by shifting it to Jack. After all, he’s the one who hates winter with a passion. He’s the one who originally pushed for this two-country life. I resisted. I whined. I self-flagellated. Not only was the whole enterprise too extravagant, I enjoy winter. Or I did; the truth is, I haven’t experienced more than a few weeks of it for more than a decade, now. (And this year? Well that’s another story altogether. It’s the third week of November, and for the first time this fall it’s seasonably cool/cold.)
But the burden is not all Jack’s anymore. I have two homes in two countries, and I’m okay with that. Finally.
This year, given the choice of leaving for Mexico in early December or after Christmas, I argued for the former. I do hate to miss all of winter, and I’m always sorry to miss out on the pre-Christmas season here, not to mention Christmas with grandchildren (next year, we promise!). But there’s a logistical reason for the early departure this year. We’ve committed to a trip to Chiapas with our good Mexican friends, Antonio and Eloisa and their family, leaving Guanajuato on December 28. That would have made Christmas in Canada a bit of a rush and introduced the unpredictability of winter travel into the equation. So, we’re heading south next week—first for a few days in Toronto with friends followed by another few days in Kitchener with children and grandchildren. Then, on December 8, we fly to Guanajuato. It will be the second time for me, third time for Jack, to be in Guanajuato early enough in December to feel part of the Christmas celebrations there, and we already have commitments on our calendar.
Mexico will never replace Canada as home. If (or when) the time comes that I must choose where to spend my dotage, I’ve no doubt it will be in Canada. But so far I’m holding my dotage at bay, and over the past few years the Mexican half (5/12, really) of our life has been feeling more and more like home, too.
When we come back in the spring, neighbours often ask “How was your holiday?” It’s not a holiday. It’s where we live. Our Mexican roots—though shallower than our Canadian roots—are expanding and nourishing us in new ways. Each year, we reach out to more people and learn more about how to live in a culture that is not our own. And we return, richer for that, but also with a sense of relief, because you can’t change cultures like you change your jacket—something we need to remind ourselves when dealing with newcomers to our own culture. My only fear is that my Canadian roots will wither as a result of perennial absence, but I think they’re deep enough to endure.
So in a couple of weeks we’ll arrive to cool December weather in the central Mexican mountains. In late April, we’ll be home again, grateful to slip back into the comfort of our community, our language, and our well-worn spring jackets.