Life as a freelancer is no picnic, although if I were to snap a photo of my desk right now –shot of tequila, snuggy-wrapped beer, and Katy Perry on the iTunes– you might think otherwise. It’s a hardscrabble life in many ways, one that requires hustle and often rewards its minions with rejection by the bucketloads. I’ve done okay; not nearly as well as I’d like to, but it’s been okay.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to leave the hustle and the rejection behind and take a brand new position in Tulum, Mexico. If you’re my Facebook friend then you know how excited and proud I was, how happy I was at the prospect of working with people (actual, real people!) in an industry that I’m familiar with and knowledgeable about.
So we arrived in Tulum, and I started the job, and it seemed like all was well in our world.
Then the doubts crept in. The unanswered questions kept piling up. The pulling this way and that threatened to rip me apart. I struggled. I struggled more than I have with anything in a very long time.
Then there were the tears. I haven’t cried over a job in years. YEARS.
As Will looked at me with sorrowful eyes as the sobs wracked my body he asked, ‘Is this worth it?”
And I could answer immediately and honestly, “No. No it’s not.”
So, just like that, I resigned.
It was hard. Looking my manager in the eye and telling him that this was not the right fit for me, that I expected more cooperation and communication than I was getting was hard. Very, very hard.
But he understood. He even went as far as to agree with many of my critiques. When I told him that I had been reduced to tears on at least one occasion he answered in the best way possible.
“Life’s too short for that.”
And it was over. I handed him my hard drive and that was that.
So what now?
Again, if you’re my friend on Facebook you know that we’re setting off for the greener and much more active pastures of Mexico City.
Am I sorry to be leaving Tulum?
Tulum just didn’t grab me. Typically when we arrive in a new place I’m like a kid in a candy store. In this case it was like a kid in a tequila store, but whatever. Regardless, I just wasn’t feeling it. Sure the beaches are beautiful, the skies in the evening blow me away, and I’ve met some very nice people.
Is it my place? No. Absolutely not.
I find it lacking in authenticity. While I’m certainly no expert in the “real Mexico”, I do take pause when hotel concierge staff tell guests who are looking for said real Mexico that they should go to Valladolid. An hour and a half away.
Until twenty or so years ago Tulum was just a wide spot in the road somewhere south of Cancun. Then the hoteliers came, then the tourists came and, just as is the case with many tourist towns, the perceived atmosphere just kind of grew around it.
Sure, Tulum is quirky and fun, but it’s just not for me. I know that it is very popular, and so many people love Tulum, but I just kind of tolerate it.
Does that make me wrong? No, but when it’s not right it’s not right. And I owe it to myself to move on.
I am deliriously excited about Mexico City. When I think back on the last five years of our nomadic lifestyle I realized that it’s been five years since we lived in the heart of a city.
That was Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I could walk from our apartment to the Metro, we had our choice of restaurants, bars, museums, and a wealth of other things to do. I loved it there. We both did, and we were sorry to leave.
When we lived in Abu Dhabi we were in the suburbs. It was a 30 minute cab ride to reach downtown and while it was easy enough to do that, I was unable to feel in control of my movements in the way that I want to.
So yeah. Mexico City. The largest city in the western hemisphere. The oldest capital city in the Americas. Home to countless museums, and Frida Kahlo’s home. The site of Diego Rivera’s famous murals.
The city where my mother went to university back in the 1960’s, thus sparking a wanderlust that became a part of my family’s DNA.
As it stands now we’re poised to leave on August 1. We plan to make the journey by bus, with leisurely stops in Chiapas and Oaxaca. It should take us about 10 days.
Sometimes I forget how big this country is, and the Yucatan is just a small fraction of it.
I want more.
And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this crazy, unpredictable life I have with my best friend, it’s that we usually get what we want.