You’re not in Kansas anymore…

I click my Ruby Red Slippers and I’m in Oz! Well, maybe not Ruby Slippers – more like warm socks with ugly shoes. And maybe not Oz, exactly…

I’m sitting on the rooftop terrace of my new home in San Miguel de Allende, thawing.

It’s been a long journey, mentally, physically, and especially emotionally. When did this transition begin?

In my heart, I could feel it three years ago. It was the kind of knowing that something had changed and something else was coming, but I had no idea what or when. Then Covid arrived and the pandemic took over the world. It stopped me in my tracks and made me face the reality of my age and the distance from my family. It created an urgency that had been absent before.

After finally getting my second vaccination, and jumping through a great many hoops, I was on the plane to the U.S. On October 4th I landed in San Francisco and spent two jetlagged weeks hiking the rocky coast along Highway 101 with Jessa and her partner, Dan.

The contrast between the U.S. and Bali stunned me. It felt so normal, so like life as I remembered it, before…

Dazed and overwhelmed I did my darndest to be in the present moment with them and integrate into the vibrant energy of California. I think I failed. I’m pretty sure I failed. On the heels of two stressful years in a destitute Bali, seeing the abundance of life-as-we-knew-it playing out before my eyes while my friends on the island suffered lockdown isolation, presented a dichotomy that hurt my heart.

So I stuffed that reality into the chamber of my mind that says, “I’ll think about this later,” and continued my cross-country journey.

In Minnesota it was an ecstatic, far too-long-awaited reunion with Jenny and Kennen and my delightful twin grandsons. We’d all aged two years since my last visit. The twins, at two and wobbly, were now four, running, bouncing, and talking non-stop. Those two little guys are incredibly well-behaved. Their patient, loving, but strict parents provide the magic formula for ultra-creative kids who could otherwise manufacture all kinds of trouble!

My sister and her husband live in northern Minnesota on the remote edge of nowhere. In a whirlwind week with them, I reconnected with many of my Norwegian relatives and friends. I drank more coffee and ate more cookies and cheesecakes than I’d had in years.

Gwen and her husband W, bought the family farm. She knows me better than anyone and we share a common history, common that is until I moved to Hawaii. A year later, she moved to Arizona. Covid reunited us through emails. We’ve maybe missed three days of correspondence since February 2020. I love my sister. Now my logical Capricorni-ness understands her quirky Gemini-ness far better than I used to.

My daughters and their partners are wise, wonderful adults coping unbelievably well in their individual, unique circumstances. I’m so proud of them. I had one more family to see.

Joy and Kellen and my two grandaughters welcomed me into their busy boisterous lives with open arms, bountiful snuggles, and affectionate kisses. Two years ago, my newborn granddaughter had raven black hair and screeched whenever Mommy was on the phone with Granny. Now she’d turned two with golden curls, a bubbly, joyful child. And my five-year-old granddaughter, in Kindergarten full time, is a budding zoologist. She stores more facts about animals in her head than I ever knew. Their dad, Kellen, maintains a loving, much-needed order in that household of independent females which was especially appreciated while Joy and I spent hours brainstorming ideas for her business. She also gave me great feedback for a new service I’m considering. More on that another time!

No photo description available.

All this while, I kept reading the news from Bali. My original plan was to fly back to San Francisco for one last week with Jessa and Dan then return to Indonesia. My ticket was for Dec. 6th. But the rules were strict and inescapable: if I went back I would have to quarantine in a hotel in Jakarta for 10 days at my own expense, and the devastating economic circumstances in Bali hadn’t changed.

Sitting in front of the fireplace on a chilly evening in Pennsylvania with the girls burrowed close on either side of me, I agonized.

The last thing I wanted to do was return to Bali with a new variant, Omicron, bringing more uncertainty. Over the past two years, I’d come to the conclusion that I wanted, and needed, to be closer to my U.S. family. Mexico, it seemed, was the logical option. Why not check it out before going back? See if it was a fit. I had friends in San Miguel de Allende.

Suddenly that seemed like the most common-sense idea I’d ever had. I spent a couple of hours on the phone with Singapore Airlines. They finally agreed to change my return ticket to January 4th, 2022, with a valid reason and another $50 added to the original price. I hoped I could trust the old saying: Take a step and the path will appear. The Universe seemed to be showing the way.

That’s when I clicked my Ruby Red Ugly Shoes!

ReAnn Scott (My Home On The Roam) welcomed me with overwhelming hospitality. In the first eight days, I met more people, had more invitations, (even played Rummikub with a group of fifteen people that meets weekly) than I’ve ever before in my life experienced. Everyone was friendly, inclusive, and best of all, interesting.

With ReAnn’s help, I found a house to rent that exceeded my wildest hopes. Another piece of the puzzle clinked into place.

Years ago, when I was trying desperately to figure out who I was, I made a list of things I love. Not people, things. One item on the list was: Sunlight streaming through French doors.

  • This house has five sets of double French doors.
  • I wanted to live on the second floor. The house is built above a first-floor garage/storage/laundry space. The living quarters are on the second floor.
  • I wanted a rooftop terrace. I have that, too, with a 360° view of San Miguel de Allende.
  • I wanted to be in the area called Centro which is close to the town center and I needed rooms with plenty of open space drenched in light. There are huge skylights in every room and it’s a fifteen-minute walk to the famous cathedral, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, that occupies the place of honor in the heart of the city.
  • I had a budget. The rental amount was within the parameters I’d set.
  • Last but not least, it had to be a Mexican-style home, not new construction void of all personality. Plaster walls, a wood-beamed ceiling, bright Mexican tiles…it had everything I wanted plus a kitchen that would make a professional chef jealous!

The Universe laughed and I knew instantly this house was mine. I paid the deposit and moved in the next day. That was fourteen days ago.

And now I know won’t be returning to The Island of the Gods on January 4th. I have a 180-day visa for Mexico and I intend to extend that permanently. This already feels like home.

This morning I journaled for the first time in over a month. In a few paragraphs, tears were flooding the pages and smearing the ink. That chamber where I’d stuffed those vulnerable feelings about Bali and the friends I was leaving behind cracked open. I sobbed for a long time.

As I write this, grief wells up again.

I had ten phenomenal years there. My dear Ketut and his family helped me grow, learn, and heal some very old wounds. He was my closest friend, loyal employee, and wise teacher. I’ve written about Ketut and our hair-raising motorbike adventures many times over the years.

His family accepted me as their own.

Perhaps deep in my subconscious I knew I wouldn’t be back but couldn’t face the goodbyes to him and so many others: Nina, who became like a daughter.

My friends in the Ubud Writer’s Group who challenged me to edit, edit, edit!

Mu and Shane who provided laughter, deep philosophical conversations, and loving support.

The courageous and beautiful Sriy Sinawati who will one day follow her dream…

And many more…so many goodbyes unsaid…

And yet, I know this is the right place at the right time for me. A new adventure for this dreamer. Won’t you please, come along…?

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shanemac
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 07:36:27

    I’m truly happy that you’re loving Mexico but I’m heavy-hearted that you’re no longer in Bali.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. stevecastley
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 07:47:45

    I’m very happy for you. Your need to move on has been obvious for so long, it is wonderful that you gave into it and found a new home. Have fun. Hugs. Steve.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 21, 2021 @ 02:21:20

      Thanks, Steve. We had some great years and great times in the writers’ group. I’m so glad you welcomed me in. We had a good run. But things change and it’s no use looking back. Here’s to the present, and the future. May the road rise up to meet you…may the wind be always at your back….Old Irish Proverb and that’s my wish for us both 🙂



  3. rickerw
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 08:07:01

    You keep things interesting for yourself with a lot of activity, spinning your wheels. Maybe I would be doing the same if I were not grounded in my life.


    * *

    On Mon, Dec 20, 2021 at 6:24 AM writing for self-discovery wrote:

    > writingforselfdiscovery posted: ” I click my Ruby Red Slippers and I’m in > Oz! Well, maybe not Ruby Slippers – more like warm socks with ugly shoes. > And maybe not Oz, exactly… I’m sitting on the rooftop terrace of my new > home in San Miguel de Allende, thawing. It’s bee” >



  4. ReAnn Scott
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 16:00:13

    I feel I was blessed the day that Margaret brought us together in Bali 5 years ago and that you thought enough of me to contact me when considering moving to SMA. It was like throwing open my door to welcome an ‘old friend’ even though I guess we can’t call ourselves that, at least not yet. But with you as a nearby neighbor who is brave and strong enough to climb the hill to my house, I know we will be good, ‘old friends’ very soon.

    Welcome to the land of blue skies, thousands of church bells, exploding fireworks, friendly people, delicious, spicy food, and crowing roosters to start each sun-filled day. Welcome to life in Mexico!

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 21, 2021 @ 02:00:05

      I’m the one who is blessed to know you. You threw open your door and gave me the run of the house! You shared your knowledge of SMA and all of your 100’s of friends! You overwelmed me with hospitality, food, and wine and made me feel like the prodigal returned! And then you left for Italy and here I am fending for myself! Thanks to your guided tours all over San Miguel,, I’m finding my way and doing fine! Thanks a million, new old friend! Have a great time but hurry back!



  5. Diane Struble
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 16:59:57

    Sounds right for now. You seem much less isolated by the pandemic here than in Bali. Happy that you are closer.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Lynn Ramsey
    Dec 20, 2021 @ 22:42:30

    We are so very happy that you are here in SMA!! We have a new Rummikub player and I have a new neighbor!! You are adding a new chapter to a life that many have only dreamed of. What a wonderful life you have, Sherry. San Miguel will certainly add to your book of adventures and good friends. You cannot help but be blessed by this being in this beautiful place. Welcome!!!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Anonymous
    Dec 21, 2021 @ 01:25:28

    I’m thrilled you’ve chosen to be where you now are…in SMA. I know this was not an easy decision for you. I’ll be eager to follow your adventures…with LOTS of pix please. I will relive this town through you🥰. SL

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Gail Brown
    Dec 25, 2021 @ 17:57:40

    I’m actually shedding a tear as I read this, Sherry. Not really sure why. I’m very happy for you and it seems like a very good move at the right time. I think that I am also thinking a lot about all my wonderful friends in Bali, missing them terribly and wondering if our lives in Bali will ever return to the “normal” we once knew. I somehow doubt it and I am hating the uncertainty about the future – for Bali, my gorgeous Balinese friends, my amazing expat mates – and life in general in this new Covid world we are now living in.
    Enjoy your new life, Sherry. I know you will grasp it with both hands and absolutely love it. All the best! Gail

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 26, 2021 @ 03:33:45

      Your note brought the lump back up in my throat. After the first year-and-a-half, and Delta was already gaining a foothold, I sensed that this wasn’t going to end anytime soon. Then just when people felt that things may be getting a little better…Omicron…

      I don’t want to believe it, but this isn’t even close to over. I began to feel like I did before I moved to Bali – like I was wasting time – marking time – waiting to die. I don’t have time to spare. I don’t merely want to stay alive, I want to LIVE the time I have left.

      Yes, it’s my Bali friends and those few expat friends who are still in Bali that make me cry. The number of expats had shrunk considerably but there are a handful still there.

      Take good care, Gail. I hope you make the holidays happy in spite of this afflicted world. Best always.



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