When You Don't Want To Go Back To Where You Came From

Me, on my ever-continuing quest to look Toronto-cool
For the first year or two of living in Mexico City, all I wanted to do was go back to Canada. I struggled with making friends, with adapting to the culture and learning to speak the language.

I liked Mexico. I liked the food and my new boyfriend Miguel and the freedom of being able to pursue my writing in a much more affordable city where a few ESL classes could free me from financial worries. 

I appreciated the fact that I'd been able to pick up and move to a totally different place, to experience living in a different country, just like I'd always wanted to do. I'd achieved something big, something good.

But that didn't stop me from longing for my built-in community in Toronto. I mean, I was a transplant there too from Nova Scotia, an eastern province in Canada. I'd already fought like the dickens to make friends, build a professional community, feel at home in the city. It seemed more than crazy to give that all up.
I miss the random stuff I used to get up as part of my job at Penguin Canada. This was a book launch for a teen novel.
Flash-forward to almost four years later after moving to Mexico City. My husband and I are now planning on moving back to Canada. I want to begin the process of getting him permanent residency so we'll have no problem getting him into Canada in the future.

My husband also has dreams of opening a Mexican restaurant, or being otherwise involved in the burgeoning Mexican food scene in Toronto. As a charismatic guy with a real talent for making connections and impeccable knowledge of the cuisine, I think he could make a real go of it.

But what about my reasons for going back? I feel like I should and yet inexplicably, suddenly, I feel immense resistance to returning to my proverbial home.

First, I really feel like I should have health care. I'm thirty-two and so far have lived in Mexico without health insurance. I'm blessed with physical health and any mental health problems have been tackled with a combo of cheap talk therapy, expensive (and rare) visits to a psychiatrist, and an ongoing diet of Prozac.

But, part of me wonders if I shouldn't have more access to preventative health care. That I should have a family doctor who's responsible for monitoring my ongoing health and who knows my history.

Second, I feel like I should be a fucking adult already. Okay, let me explain. Being in Mexico as an expat, at least for me, is kind of like thinking of adulthood as a big fluffy bed that you just jump up and down on while cackling with glee.

Your rent is cheap. You don't need to get an office job. You can hire a cleaning lady. There are a million places to stuff yourself with the best food you've ever had and more alcohol than you ever need. Your schedule is flexible and inevitably you make friends with other expats with limited responsibilities and lots of time.
Adulting as hard as we can. With my husband Miguel.
Not to say that I've pissed away the last four years drinking beer and napping the day away. I built first a freelance writing business and then my very own fiction writing business, where I self-publish books under three names in three genres for profit on Amazon.

I'd have never had the opportunity to do this in expensive Toronto, where the pressure to take a day job to pay the bills is much stronger.

Is it that? That I'm afraid that the independence I've cultivated in DF will be robbed from me in Toronto? That I'll be constantly worried about money again, forced to take part-time office work, left with less time and energy to build my writing business?

Am I afraid to going back, as if this represents a return to normalcy (Which is exactly why I left in the first place ... I don't want to live a normal life)? That I'll fall back into the same routines, the same life? And with travel restrictions on visa applicants, we'd have to stay in Canada for a while. No vagabonding.

I want to see Miguel experience life in Canada. That'll be gratifying all in itself. And I know he'll force me to see more of the country and do new things.  But me? Eh, been there done that.
Miguel in Toronto enjoying one the few snowfalls he's experienced in his life. It's November, so don't ask me why he's shirtless and wearing flip flops.
There are options. We could move to another city. I'm studying French right now (it's a life-long goal of mine to become fluent). I'd love to live in Montreal, where incidentally life is cheaper, to work on my French. But I'd miss out on the writing community in Toronto that might be able to help with my career.

Or we could just go back for a month or two and then fuck off somewhere else. I'd love to do a long trip again, though money is a consideration. My savings aren't huge and Miguel still hasn't found a way to support himself through remote work (though we're building an erotica business that we hope will help with that).

Who knows which way the wind will blow us. All I know, is that when I moved to Mexico City I made a commitment to live a more creative life: in how I make my money, in my relationships, and in where I choose to live and what types of possessions I decide to burden myself with.

So even if we do go to Canada, and stay for a while, I doubt anything about the arrangement will be conventional.

Are you struggling with the idea of returning home from expat life? Did you already do it and what happened? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Resources:
  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. I'm reading this right now and I'm really mulling over the idea of "big" and "small" thinking.
  • Moon Mexico City. The guidebook I know and trust, for those of you thinking of moving here.
  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Just read it and currently fueling my wanderlust. The author goes trekking into the far reaches of the Himalayas. Just as much a spiritual as a physical journey.

6 comments:

Island Girl said...

Hmm! I know this story! I moved back to Canada after a carefree and wonderful life in Mexico. I have a Mexican husband too! Health care was a concern for me also. I would be happy to chat with you! It's not an easy decision!

Island Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Island Girl said...
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Island Girl said...

Hmm! I know this story! I moved back to Canada after a carefree and wonderful life in Mexico. I have a Mexican husband too! Health care was a concern for me also. I would be happy to chat with you! It's not an easy decision!

the girl in the dress said...

Hello :) I hear your cries on the internet! I think the hardest part of traveling is figuring out where to go next and wondering if "settling down" is even a thing. I took my first "real" job in Boston about two years ago and felt super resistant to the idea of falling into a routine and "normalcy". Turns out, I started dating a man in the foreign service and soon I'll be marrying him and moving to China. After China we are already scheduled to move to Mexico City (which is why I found your blog). I think that life has a way of being what you need, is my point. Sometimes adulting feels good and is a starting point for a new adventure! And having moved away and back to Boston before, I can testify that you never move back to the same city twice--things change so much. Sounds like YOU have changed so much! Good luck with your decisions!

Also, thanks for writing about Mexico City! I'm going to be scouring your blog. I was hoping we'd be posted in Turkey or Norway or something, so I'm a little disappointed at getting Mexico, but I'm sure that the more I learn about it, the more excited I'll get.

Melanie said...

So much to think about. I know you are already back but I just read this now. I found that when I moved back to Calgary after many years away it was a totally different city. I had to start all over again even though I grew up there. It was lonely at first but it worked out. The job situation throws a wrench in the plans though, doesn't it? Moving from somewhere cheap to somewhere expensive has got to be hard.

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