By Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, LPC, MAC
New Adventures Ahead
Life certainly brings some unexpected surprises. A truly serendipitous convergence of events brought about the sudden and unexpected sale of our home here at Lakeside. After much thought, my husband and I have decided to return to the U.S. We will be moving back to Portland, Oregon, where my greatest pleasure in returning will be again to live near to my son who I have missed very much while living so far away.
Lakeside has been my home for more than twelve years now. It is the first place that truly feels like “home” to me as opposed to merely the place I live. After years of not quite fitting into round holes, there are lots of square holes down here for a square peg like me. And lots of other square pegs. I love this place. Yet despite all that, there comes a time to return to my other home and family.
I’m surprisingly eager to make the move. I hope that feeling lasts when I’m in the midst of a Portland winter! I don’t know just what the future has in store for me or whether my departure from Lakeside will be temporary or permanent. All that remains to be seen.
Meantime, there is another exciting adventure on the horizon that will help get me though that first long winter. Next May I will be going to Bhutan, a tiny kingdom between India and Tibet. I’ll be working there for several months in their national hospital seeing patients and trying to help achieve their goal of “Gross National Happiness.” (Yes, that’s how they measure their country’s wealth!)
And so, I begin the process of sorting and packing, figuring out what to keep and what to leave behind. I don’t need a packing box for those things that are most important to me. What I value most from my time here at Lakeside is my own growth and the friends who’ve been part of my life.
After twelve-and-a-half years, I’ll be leaving here confident in my ability to make my own way in a foreign culture (a skill that will certainly serve me well in Bhutan!). I came to Mexico with only English and a smattering of French, and now I can hold my own in a basic conversation in Spanish. I can navigate intricate dealings with Telmex and the electric company. I not only know what are mamey, pitaya, nopal, and verdolaga, I know how to use them to create something delicious to eat.
I suspect that returning to the United States will be far more of a culture shock than my coming to Mexico. Acculturation to life south-of-the-border was easy for me. The bonuses and benefits far outweighed the adjustments and headaches. Sure, I look forward to living a short hop away from Powell’s Books and Trader Joe. Uninterrupted electricity and phone service and drinking clean water from the tap won’t be hard to adjust to either. But I will deeply miss the many friends I have made here, those I know personally and those I have shared deep connections with as clients.
It saddens me that I cannot say a personal goodbye to each of you. I am heartened by the words of Richard Bach who wrote, “Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”