Letters from Lorraine VII
Hola, buenos dias, everyone!
I had a two “firsts” in the past several weeks. I had my first friend from the Vineyard visit me, and I took my first trip (technically the second) out of Mexico since I moved here a year ago. Yes, a year ago; hard to believe. My Vineyard friend Sue Hruby came not only to see me, Mexico, and my new house but to take care of my dogs, Pearl and Ruby, while I was away.
My first big trip from my new home was to my 50th high school reunion in Alabama, which had been postponed several times because of the pandemic. This trip was very important to me — I am making a conscious effort to keep all the dots of my life connected, which, of course, includes the Vineyard, where I spent forty-one, at times magical, unforgettable years.
I was nervous as hell concerning these firsts: one, how would my Vineyard friend Sue view my new life, and second, how would I feel about my life and home in Mexico when I returned. Both could not have gone better.
Sue gave me the ultimate compliment — she could see herself living here. That was an opinion I did not expect. And as I was leaving my friends in Alabama, I remarked, “How will I feel about San Miguel de Allende when I get back?”
Truthfully, it could have gone either way — happy to be home or saddened I had so drastically changed a good life on Martha’s Vineyard to one in a foreign country I honestly did not know that well.
I got the answer to my question, which was more of a curiosity than anything, as I was walking toward the waiting area of the airport gate heading back to Mexico.
As I got closer to my flight’s gate and saw more and more Mexicans and heard Spanish being predominately spoken, my immediate thought was, I am going home. More than that, I was excited to once again be surround by the people and the language of my new adopted country.
Sue and I only had a few days together before I left, and I spent most of them showing her the ropes of dog walking and the idiosyncrasies of my house. She had traveled before to South America and parts of Mexico, so she knew the ins and outs of living in these great cultures.
As much as I wanted to be in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, and with the wonderful friends I grew up with, I dreaded getting there. I was lucky, though; the planes were on time, and I had no problems with my connecting flights, but Sue, on the other hand — well. let’s just say it was not easy for her to get back home to the Vineyard.
Okay, it was a fucking nightmare for her, but she eventually got home in one exhausted piece!
I, along with a lot of friends and acquaintances on the Vineyard, are long-distance-power-walking people. During my last twenty years of living on MV, I became more of a Landbank trail walker than a beach-goer.
When I first got to my home in the SMA neighborhood of Los Frailes, Pearl, Ruby, and I mainly walked the quiet cobblestone streets. We were not getting enough exercise, though, and I wanted more for the three of us.
I had heard there were stables about a mile down the dirt road I had been walking on, but I had never ventured far enough to discover them on my own. A neighbor, Cynthia, who also loves to walk long distances, walked there with me and the dogs one day.
Now I have a new love — well, actually, four new loves. I’ve named them Beauty, Pinto, Jaws, and Reluctant. They are horses, of course, and are my new mouths to feed. No, I did not buy four horses, but I do take a bag of carrots to them almost every day, and, thankfully, carrots are dirt cheap in Mexico. I find taking carrots to feed my new horse friends is my carrot for walking longer distances than before. I know they look for me —actually, of course, they look for their carrots — around six every evening, and I cannot disappoint them. Think I’m imagining this? You should hear them whinnying as they spot me and the dogs coming down the road.
For many years, I had a Vineyard variation of this. I always kept big bags of deer food and birdseed in the back of my beat-up winter car. I referred to this vehicle as my barn on-wheels. I would leave piles of deer food hidden in the woods during the winter months and would occasionally pull over on the side of State Road and feed the crows and wild turkeys.
Feeding the deer on the Vineyard became a self-imposed responsibility, a task I thoroughly loved, but most of all, it was a daily ritual that got me out of the house and into nature, no matter the weather. In fact, the worse the weather, the more I was compelled to get into the woods and leave food for the elusive critters I loved dearly but rarely saw.
Now Beauty, Pinto, Jaws, and Reluctant are my daily responsibilities and my motive to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful Mexican evenings. And while I feed these gorgeous creatures their carrots (and, occasionally, apples), Ruby chases the chickens, and Pearl chases Ruby chasing the chickens!
Our Pearl is one happy poodle these days, which makes me one happy poodle mama.
I told Sue when she visited that I cannot go to town very often because there are just too many beautiful things in the shops and I have a hard time resisting. She completely understood after a few hours of being in town; lucky for her, her suitcase was already packed full, and there was little room for anything else. But me? I have a whole house I could easily stuff full of gorgeous things if I had limitless pesos. Unfortunately, I don’t.
An American acquaintance said to me one day while I was buying a precious hand-carved wooden container from a young boy, “Don’t start doing that, because these people selling stuff are everywhere.” It was a heartless thing to say, so I said back, “If I die five thousand dollars poorer for having supported these people by buying their beautiful little things, I will have died a richer person.” Some Americans embarrass me here; they can be awful, stingy, and ungrateful.
Speaking of beautiful Mexican things, my friend and house painter, Julian, and I went to the city of Dolores Hidalgo one day looking for tiles to install around my pool. We drove past an intriguing stone-working site with columns, statues, and fountains displayed alongside the road. We stopped there on the way back home, and I knew I was in trouble when I stepped out of the car. Then I began poking around the place. OMG!
I quickly envisioned an “art installation” of the stone columns, stone railings, and gorgeous black, carved stone horse heads. I thought it would be a fabulous new feature in my courtyard. I couldn’t help myself; in fact, I didn’t even try to control the urge and ordered all the pieces I thought I needed for my “art project.”
I named this endeavor “Lorraine’s Folly,” because it was so completely impulsive and unnecessary. It was not supposed to be delivered until I was home from my trip, but Sue called me up one day while I was away and said “Lorraine’s Folly is here. Where do you want it?”
Sue dealt with the delivery and had a great time doing so. The owner of the stone-working place came with his wife, and Sue got to meet two new characters in my life. She could not have been more gracious to this Mexican duo and was able to practice her Spanish with them, along with every Mexican she came across on her trip.
I find that, along with lessons, the best way to learn the language is by speaking with business people and their workers. They are patient and appreciate the fact that you are trying to speak their language. It’s also hilarious when I use my broken Spanish with a Mexican using their broken English. We both have a good time, and almost always, in the end, have communicated what we needed to say.
I’ll photograph my Lorraine’s Folly installation and will include it in my next letter. There is a sample of what it will look like in my photos, and you can see why I fell in love with the stone pieces. You’ll also understand why I had to have my very own collection to admire every day in my beautiful courtyard.
This is all for now, but like I said, there’s lots of photos on my website.
One more thing. When planning your next getaway, don’t forget Mexico. People tend to think of Europe or tropical vacations but forget about Mexico and countries in South America. Before I leave this planet, I intend to visit Argentina, Peru, and, most of all, Patagonia.
And, of course, I’ll make a trip back to the Vineyard by next summer. BTW, my book is coming along, and I’m loving my piano lessons and adore my friend and teacher Alberto.
Oh, here’s something I find interesting and a little woo-woo. My puppy Ruby turned one year old September 3rd which just so happens to be the same day Pearl and I arrived in San Miguel de Allende! What are the odds?
Lorraine, Pearl, and baby Ruby