Some people thought this trip was a little crazy. The nurse pricking my finger at the blood donation clinic commiserated about the fact that I was about to spend six months in Mexico, and I had to explain that I was going completely on my own initiative and was anticipating it with great excitement (though I do regret that I may not be allowed to donate blood for a while after returning) . . . . A couple of people asked whether we were bringing our daughter along (reply: “Um, yes, she’s THREE”), and we weren’t sure whether they thought we were bringing her into mortal danger, or were just worried that we were going to warehouse her with a babysitter for six months. . . . We got quite a lot of disbelieving “You can just leave your jobs for six months?” . . . . One person intelligently asked, “Have you ever been to San Miguel?” (reply: “Nope”) . . . . Others asked, “Do you have a house lined up there?” (reply: “No, that’s what we’ll do during our first ten days”). And even Joy and I looked at each other a few times as moving day drew near, saying “Are we really doing this?”
A lot of luck converged to make this trip possible. First and foremost, I am in a rare vocation, and rare denomination, that builds in sabbatical as a part of professional development. And then, most people who get a sabbatical have spouses who can’t just take off, or kids who would founder if they left their routine for six months, and so taking the whole family on a sabbatical journey is not an option for them. Joy’s workplace has to hold a spot for her for this leave. And the munchkin is at a very portable age and will benefit a lot from this time, even if none of it stays in her conscious memory. We live in an attractive area where a family might want to sublet a house (crucial to our affording the trip), and one such family needed to be in our town for the same six months we wanted to be away. They even like cats, so they didn’t balk at taking care of ours.
We are lucky, in short, but the luckiest thing, the one that made it all possible, was how well-matched Joy and I are in our sense of adventure. When I said, “I’d like to travel during my sabbatical,” she said “Right, this is our big chance.” When she suggested Mexico as a place we could live on just my salary—and specifically, San Miguel de Allende as a place rich in art and Spanish schools—I trusted her to know what kind of place I would love. It would have been simpler to stay home and not have to find a place to live in another country, find subletters for our house, clear out enough of our stuff so the subletters could actually move in, get all our documents in order, etc., but we were both more committed to exciting, challenging, beautiful, than to simple. It would have been a lot simpler for Joy to keep working, but she calmly did all the preparation to hand off her projects and clear her desk for six months. When we asked each other, “Are we really doing this?” both of us meant not “We must be crazy,” but “This seems too good to be true.”
I have a spouse who, instead of saying “No way,” says “Why not?” whenever possible. She’s left her home of ten years and moved 3,000 miles to live with me. To be with me, she’s come out to some people who thought she was straight, and admitted she was dating a minister to others who thought that was pretty funny. She’s gone through the whole complicated, rollercoaster process of becoming parents with me. She’s shared her wildest dreams with me, and listened to mine with the attitude, “Let’s make them come true.” And five years ago tomorrow, she took possibly the biggest plunge, and married me. Happy anniversary, my love!