A Change In Plans

By Margie Harrell


casa-ajijicThe message came clear across e-mail. The apartment back in the U.S. was finally available. I chose carefully when I got on the waiting list last year, preparing for a period of uncertainty, sandwiched between 30 years of living to work and retirement.

I knew not what to call it, this period of awkward and tumultuous change in life, threatening my very existence. Between earning and not earning, between boardroom and bored tomb. “Baby Boomers turn 50,” I remembered a hefty headline.

Hedging bets, I sought unceasingly for a place to hang my hat, place my possessions, and get on with it. A year later, it is ready. But am I ready for it?

Dear Terri, (a realtor friend)

Thank you for working diligently to get me the one apartment I thought I wanted for my retirement. I cannot accept it now, for reasons you may find difficult to understand. Last November, two days after retirement, I ran away from home. I flew directly to Mexico, and discounting two trips back to visit family, friends, and physicians, I’ve been here ever since.

There is peace and beauty unfolding in my life I never thought possible. The climate is almost perfect and helps maintain my health status; perhaps I am no better here, but I’m certainly no worse.

I am poor by American standards, but rich in ways I never dreamed of and cannot describe in a mere note. I know you wonder how I live on less than a fifth of my working income; one learns to get along. (Yesterday at a moving sale I bought my first knife, other than a paring knife from the grocery. I am more thrilled with it than once I was with the entire set of expensive German cutlery in that designer kitchen I built.)

We have power outages occasionally, can drink only bottled water, and watch for scorpions in the sheets and shower curtains. Presently, I have dishes for two, but a maid to wash them. There is no room in my casita for the twelve place settings of china, crystal and silver I would have moved to the apartment over the magnolia tree.

But there is breeze from the lake, and lush tropical foliage and mountains surround us. There is comparatively little of the crime we experienced in the States, and I don’t need new clothes, new shoes, or season tickets to the Shakespeare Festival. Art and music abound, much of it free, and more available than I have energy to enjoy.

In short, I’m at home, philosophically, and proud to be here. I hope you find just the right person for the apartment over the magnolia, and please keep in touch.

Your happy friend,


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