There is one thing I miss about leaving my friends and family behind and that’s leaving my friends and family behind. As I ventured forth to ‘live my dream’ (definitely more on that later), I really had no idea how much I would long for girlfriends.
Ya, you can make new ones. But it’s not the same, is it. I mean, sometimes it’s nice just to be able to call someone up, tell them you’re having a nervous breakdown, and not have them judge you or regret giving you their home number. And sometimes it’s nice just to hang out, not have to make conversation or food, or cocktails. OK, maybe cocktails. Because friends fend for themselves. They’re not guests really. They’re compadres. Sympaticos. Amigos. With old friends you just cruise in each others slipstream like the guy behind Lance Armstrong. Except no one is Lance Armstrong cause he’s a lyin’, cheatin’, SOB and none of my friends are like that. They’re more like Lady Gaga; super cool, interesting, funny, and beautiful. Even in the morning with no makeup.
So when I found myself with 3 weeks on my own, a stranger in a strange land, with no husband and no sister and my friends thousands of miles away, I admit to feeling a little sorry for myself. I’d put the call out for my BFFs to come visit me but the return emails were polite but regretful. Damn, didn’t they realize I was livin’ the dream and they too, could be part of it? Apparently not. Being an introvert without friends in a city you’ve just moved to is a bit like Eeyore on a good day. I was trying to take it in stride but truth was, I missed my pals. Then it happened.
Annie, a talented writer and lover of all things Mehico, got a cheap flight at the last minute and voila, was on my doorstep before you could say Don Julio. At least it felt like that to me. I’m sure the 5 hr flight and 4 hour bus ride were not the highlights of her trip. But there were lots of smiles and hugs and wine and stories and plans to ‘go exploring’. Anne speaks amazing Espanol which was helpful when we braved the central market, armed with only our cameras and enthusiasm. She charmed the socks off everyone and taught me that Lo Siento is used when someone dies and not when you bump into them (Perdoname!) and that Ja! Compremos! means ‘We already bought!’ But the best one was ‘Muchisimo Gracias!’, which is ‘Thank You to the 10th Power!’ I love that girl. We had 4 great days going to noisy markets, ruined haciendas and groovy mezcal bars before she moved on to another adventure at Largo Bacalar in Quintana Roo ’cause that’s how Annie rolls.
Then I got a Skype call from my chic designer pal Connie. “I’m in Puerta Vallarta and I can get a flight to Merida – only for 4 days but I’m coming!” Boy, this good karma stuff was starting to pay off. After retrieving her from the airport, I took Connie to some of my fave places. One of them is Coqui Coqui, a unique boutique shop/hotel where she bought a crazy sexy brown crocheted dress that only Connie could wear. Beatrice, the uber cool shopkeeper I have my eye on as possible ‘real friend’ status here in Merida, took us upstairs to see the one and only hotel room that is old world romantic and right out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I could see Merida was starting to spin its charm web. Connie had to work most mornings but one day we ventured out to the Loltun Caves, getting lost in Ticul along the way. Which is a thing I have mastered here by the way… getting lost en route to somewhere else. I like to think its part of the adventure and fortunately Connie did too. She changed her flight to stay 2 extra days (guess she liked the view from her new ‘office’), taught me to make a mean risotto-style Vongole, and got to hang out with my gay pal Josh* who renovates and rents beautiful homes here in Merida. I dropped her off at the airport with a heavy heart but was happy another friend was on the way – they were coming fast and furious now!
*not sure why i have to say my ‘gay pal’ but the girlfriends will understand that to mean ‘gorgeous, creative, and super fabulous’
I have to admit, I never really ‘prepped’ for Anne or Connie, other than moving the mountain of laundry off the guest bed and squishing 2 very large bugs that WERE NOT COCKROACHES. My friend Sue is a producer, speaks Japanese from when she was married to the uber handsome Kazunori, and will be pleased she got the largest paragraph. She’s also a hard core vegan (Mehicanos think she’s ‘from Vegas’, they just don’t GET vegan) so that required some shopping strategy in a country where entire restaurants and Chicharronnerias are devoted to pork products. If its not made of pork they cook it in pork. Or it smells like pork because it’s surrounded by pork. Needless to say, we didn’t leave the house much which was fine by Sue because she arrived with a cute little cough that turned into, “I’m never going to see my dog again because I’m going to die in a country where they eat nothing but pork”. So I dusted off my nurturing skills and kindly offered not to put tequila in everything, although honestly? I think it would have cured her. We did venture out on a fine Sunday morning to walk the Centro Historico Promenade with my dog Iggy who is a real conversation starter here in Mexico eg. not too many 90 lb. Goldendoodles in these parts. Sue loved all the attention (apparently my nurturing was falling a little flat) and appeared to be enjoying the magic that is Merida. We found vegetarian tacos at Santa Lucia square and watched a 90 year old dude dance like there’s no tomorrow. Which I guess in his case might actually be true. Then Sue told me she wanted to hang out at an animal shelter so I said, “Okay, most people say ‘the beach’ but I’m game. You find one and I’ll drive you there”. Which turned into another getting lost on the way to somewhere story, but we ended up at the gates of hell, I mean the shelter, ‘greeted’ by 198 happy noisy hounds. I dropped her off, took my own dog to the beach, and when I picked her up she had a big smile, 2 new best friends (bitch), and plans to change the world one Mexican dog at a time.
After I dropped Sue off at the bus (which apparently led to another harrowing chapter of ‘I Almost Missed My Plane’), I headed home to a large margarita and some quiet reflection about what awesome girlfriends I have. When the chips were down, they came through for me. And each of them brought a desire for connection to Merida that led to my own discovery of this new place I call home. My other so-called friends can just pull out their guilty sticks ahorita! Or start planning their adventures with me next year. There’s still lots to discover and I’m going to be here for a long long time – the stage at Santa Lucia square beckons.