Above left, the backyard about a year ago. Above right, about a month ago. At top is the casita at the rear of the yard; beneath it is the terrace off the main house. That’s 381 square meters, or over 4,000 square feet, of interior construction and almost as much space devoted to terraces and garden space. We’re heading into Christmas week, and ending an incredible year. Thank you, Mérida, for being there.
In January, we were grateful just to see foundations and some cinderblock outlining the shape of future rooms. I’ve enjoyed documenting bits and pieces of this project online, and I’m grateful for the feedback and encouragement I’ve gotten from readers.
I’m grateful that today, friends went by on a walk and saw that work was still being done inside. The iron gate was padlocked, but the shutters were open and they could hear work. I’m grateful for the report, and I’m grateful that on the Sunday before Christmas, someone is in there doing something, whatever it is. There are so many odds and ends to be tied up, we’ll be continuing this project well into 2014. For the walls and windows and fixtures and finishes that are indeed done, I’m grateful.
We’re coming down with my parents, who were very supportive in this project. A lot of parents would have freaked out, especially parents from their conservative generation. I’m grateful that they love this idea, too, and I’m grateful even more that at 84 and 89, they got the doctor’s green light to travel down with us. They both spent too much time sick in the hospital in 2012. I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. Mom got stronger with physical therapy and Dad underwent heart surgery that was a brand new procedure, developed by and performed by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m grateful for everyone who’s been taking such care of them while I’ve been far away, making my own plans. Mind you, Dad hasn’t been on an airplane since leaving Japan after World War II. Mom last flew when she took me to Disney World in 1974, where I spilled orange juice all over my plaid polyester pants and got a toy Delta pin from the captain, which I think I still have in a shoebox in the attic.
Air travel is more impersonal these days, but club lounges compensate for that, and we are grateful to the cushy chairs and wifi because we have a loooong layover with the folks coming up. I’m also grateful for the free drinks that keep me sane in Houston. I’ll be grateful to my teetotaler parents if they overlook our little trips to the bar for just “one more to take the edge off.” I’m grateful to friends back in Mérida who will receive my parents, both making the trip easier and demonstrating to them that we will be among good people once we’re here. That’s what they really want to see.
I published a lot of books this year for Mérida authors, something I did as a creative project and training for a possible future career path. I’m making a New Year’s resolution to tap more and more into my artistic side. I used to draw editorial illustrations and cartoons, and although now I’m a news designer and art director, I find myself wanting to undertake my own projects. Living in Mérida will help me do that. The plane ride home from Mérida has been a mentally fertile time. I’m forced to sit still, and the week’s events percolate in my mind. One ride home resulted in the “creative brief” that we handed our architects. It helped us focus our aesthetic and establish objectives. The most recent ride found me sketching and outlining ideas. The cobwebs were cleared out of my head. Ideas just flowed. I’ve missed the feeling of creating my own work, as opposed to shaping others’ writing or design.
We have a lot of work ahead in 2014. We have to decorate and then, if we’re not ready to move down yet, try to get some money back from Casa Nana as a rental. Meanwhile, responsibilities back in Connecticut are mounting, including a volunteer board stint that will send me to Germany just weeks after a milestone birthday that I intend to celebrate in Casa Nana. If Paul and I are still speaking to each other by 2015, I’ll be grateful.