Wednesday 7 February 2018

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Three: “Did We Just Buy a Condo?”

I give myself permission to fully experience whatever comes up during this trip, knowing I am safe.—Martin Baker

Fran is in Mexico right now for dental treatment. I am keeping a journal throughout the trip, and compiling my day-by-day notes into a series of weekly blog posts.

This post covers Fran’s second week in the town of Ajijic in the State of Jalisco, on the north shore of Lake Chapala.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Our Mexican Adventure, Part Three: “Did We Just Buy a Condo?”

Wednesday, January 31, 7:30 a.m. UK time

Fran and I had a brilliant Skype video call yesterday (Tuesday) at a café called Black and White in the Plaza. Fran propped her phone up on the table so I could see what was going on while we talked. It wasn’t too busy and no one took the slightest notice. We were careful not to have the volume up too high.

After a while, Fran saw someone she knew and called her over: a lovely lady called Paula from “the other Portland” (the one in Oregon!) The three of us nattered away as though we’d all known each other for years. Paula seemed amused and delighted that I felt so fully present with them there.

Fran asked Paula about the “Super Blue Blood Moon” happening today (Wednesday), but the 6 a.m. meet up at the lakeside was just too early for Fran to contemplate! They plan to meet up on Thursday, though, to visit the hot springs which are a short bus ride away.

Thursday, February 1, 7:25 a.m. UK time

Fran visited the Black and White café again yesterday (Wednesday). She is great at connecting with new people she meets on vacation (“I do better with strangers than friends.”) Later, she messaged me: “Hanging out with friends,” and had a “deep deep talk” with one lady. We managed a short video call as I walked to the Metro station for the train after work. It was fun to show Fran the route I walk every day.

My evening was busy and satisfying. I watched a TV programme about the influence of the moon on life on earth (likely scheduled because of the Super Moon thing) and chatted online with a couple of friends. Later, I found some great music tracks on YouTube and made a decent start on a new piece of writing; about our book, suicide and suicidal thinking. It was about one in the morning when I went to bed.

The final message of the day from Fran: “Pizza! I’ve tried to come here for days! Finally it’s open!”

Friday, February 2, 7:25 a.m. UK time

Fran went to the hot springs at Hotel Balneario yesterday (Thursday). It didn’t exactly go to plan.

She headed out to catch the bus, but despite asking several people if she was in the right place none of the buses stopped for her. She got more and more frustrated and cross with herself for not having walked to meet her friends and travel with them. (“I did plan it with them but nothing worked except them getting there and me not.”)

I suggested she tried Uber but she didn’t want to do that. In the end she messaged one of her friends who told her she needed to walk about a mile along the road if she wanted to catch the bus. She headed off. A little later:

“On stupid bus.”
“Put stupid Glympse on so I can see where you are. Do we know where we are going?”

Fran showed me the leaflet. I located the place on Google maps and sent her screenshots to show where she needed to be, whilst simultaneously tracking her on Glympse. A nice lady on the bus helped by telling Fran where to get off. Finally she was there, and met up with her friends. She had a good time, and got a ride home, just missing a torrential downpour.

We had a thirty minute call when she got back. She was cold, hungry, and grumpy.

“Shivering under the covers. I hope I don’t get sick.”
“Any headaches today?”
“No. Just shivering.”

She seemed pretty low: understandable after the day she’d had. It took a while for her to fully engage with me, but after a bit we settled into our usual way of being with each other, and talked more readily. She is enjoying making new friends. She has invitations to dinner today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday). After we finished our call and she’d rested a while she headed out again, this time to a friend’s birthday celebration—“with cake!”

Thursday was #TimeToTalkDay here in the UK and I wore my Time to Change tshirt into work. I was back on Facebook after my little break, and had a good conversation on one of my posts about the value (or otherwise) of awareness events like this.

At work, I had three mental health related conversations. That’s not at all unusual, actually: testament partly to the “looking out for each other” ethos my boss Judith engenders in her team.

Friday, 10:30 p.m. UK time

Fran’s been busy today (Friday), including a tour round some local properties with a realtor (estate agent) which she arranged the other day. I messaged her when she got back.

“Did we just buy a condo?”
“Nope, but she was nice.”

Right now, she’s at Isabella’s restaurant meeting friends for dinner. I doubt we will have any calls until tomorrow. I could have done with a natter, but it’s okay. My day has been full—and heavy. I have been wrestling with one long-term friendship for a while and it kind of came to a head today. One in which I have struggled to accept the reality that I am not meeting my friend’s support needs, and our relationship is not meeting my needs either. Not a failure, but a reminder that caring for someone isn’t always enough, and that we need to keep an eye on our own well-being as well as the other person’s.

On a more positive note, I received a lovely message from a lady thanking me and Fran for writing our book, which she was ordering to help her friend better support her. And then, tonight, a major new opportunity in the mental health arena presented itself (thanks, Julie!)

Saturday, February 3, 6 p.m. UK time

I have been out most of today (Saturday) with my family for my son’s Michael’s birthday meal. Mike is a fantasy novelist, blogger, and cartographer. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and on his blog.

Fran has also been out, first for brunch and now visiting some gardens. She posted up a gorgeous sunset photo last night from down by the lake. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well as she made her way home.

“Please don’t worry. I fell on my face walking home last night. I sent a piccie. I should have stuck with my beers. I had margaritas and egg nog. I don’t remember falling on my face but I do remember someone watching over me. The good thing is, I broke no teeth or leg or eye.”

The photo showed some dried blood, minor cuts and scrapes on her nose and upper lip. I’m hoping it won’t look too bad once she has cleaned herself up. But it will be sore and I know she will be concerned that she let it happen. The roads are pretty uneven and cobbled. That might be how it happened, although if she had been drinking too much that likely contributed too.

“Steve said it was the margaritas, and now I have my margarita story.”
“Yeah—I was wondering if I’d have anything interesting for this week’s blog…”

I just have to trust that she’s okay.

“My friends are concerned about me.”
“I am too, Fran.”
“I know.”

We may not get to have a call or even chat much more today, as she is invited to dinner later with some other friends. There are times when the miles between us matter very little. And there are times like this.

Sunday, February 4, 1:10 p.m. UK time

Fran rested in the afternoon yesterday (Saturday) after her trip out for brunch/gardens. We got to catch up on chat later, before she went out for dinner with her friend Helen.

She is planning a resting day today (Sunday), and wants to work on her photos and finances. She plans to watch tonight’s Super Bowl if possible. I found an iPhone app (Televista Deportes) which might work, if she decides not to go out anywhere to see it. We’ll see. I’m hoping we will connect for a call at some point.

She sent another selfie: she has a cut to her upper lip and a bandaid across the bridge of her nose, but she managed a smile and I don’t think there will be too much bruising, nor a black eye.

“I’ve had more things happen here in the last 2 weeks than I’ve had in the past year.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“Probably shouldn’t move here.”

Monday, February 5, 7:30 p.m. UK time

I enjoyed yesterday (Sunday). I cooked lunch for my wife and son, went out for coffee and a few groceries, and spent the afternoon watching Columbo. I also chatted online a bit with a couple of friends. It’s good to have people you feel comfortable and safe with, to share whatever might be going on for you without being judged.

I feel fully “caught up” again with Fran. We had a couple of voice calls through the day. We did a bit of “work”—we selected ten of her photos from the past week, emailed them out to her “postcard from Mexico” mailing list, and also posted them on Facebook.

Best of all, we watched the Super Bowl! Fran hadn’t wanted to go out anywhere and there wasn’t a TV available to watch it on in the apartment.

After exploring a few options we found the best way was for me to have the game playing on my PC on the BBC Sport website. I then shared my screen with Fran via Skype. It meant we could be together on webcam and watch/hear the game at the same time.

The picture was a bit “watercolour-y” at Fran’s end. I pointed out it was probably easier to watch than in previous years, when Fran shared the Super Bowl experience with me by pointing her webcam across her apartment at her tiny TV!

Tuesday, February 6, 7:30 p.m. UK time

I focused my energies yesterday (Monday) on my writing and blogging, and replied to a very exciting email regarding a new opportunity in the mental health arena.

Fran was really tired when we met on Skype last night (early evening for her). She is allowed to be tired of course, but it felt more than that. When I notice something that could potentially be more than it seems, I bring it into the open. Sometimes Fran will want to explore it, sometimes not. Last night, not.

“I know you’re really tired, Fran, but you also seem—flat, maybe?”
“I am flat.”

Instead, we talked about what's coming up in the next few days and I read more from Outlander, the novel we are reading together. After our call, Fran had an invitation to watch a movie with friends, but decided to stay in and rest until bed time.

We’re just over half-way through this trip. Later today (Tuesday) Fran will move from this apartment to another one nearby, where she will stay for the remainder of the trip.Tomorrow she has her first appointment at Dental Express, which is what started all this in the first place.

It’s been quite an experience so far. Full. Exciting. Moving. Challenging. Painful—especially for Fran’s nose. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Continues here.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five


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