I’m sitting by the pool in my swimming suit. The sun is bearing down on my back, more welcoming than annoying for sure. For the last hour I’ve been charring in its heat while I finish a book about an undercover ATF agent that infiltrated the Hells Angels. Good book. In the last three years or so I have read maybe five books. Before that, I can’t even remember when I’d read one. The girls are taking turns jumping into the pool from the side. One will float in the shallow end and shout a question, “What’s your favorite food!?” Then the other one has to jump and shout back their answer before crashing into the water. “Spaghetti!” Palm trees are doing lazy dances above me, making rustling noises that can’t quite drown out the sound of the chickens across the road, or the man in the shrimp truck down the hill… “Camarones!” I decided it was just the right time to crack the day’s first Tecate. I was right.
Rich and Maria are getting ready to leave. They got here a day later than us and are leaving a day earlier than we will. I’m going to run them to the airport in a couple of hours. Then I’ll come back and we’ll do our thing for one more day…which hasn’t been much. This has been a good trip. My plans to be clear headed and get some work done have failed miserably. It is what it is I guess. No guilt, no sleeplessness over it – the latter being a rarity. In fact, last night was the best night of sleep I’ve had since coming here. Ten hours solid…the last one to wake up.
And though I haven’t been clear-headed about work, I am feeling a little more connected to my real life, the one that I live in where work is, in reality, merely an incidental yet obnoxious necessity. Change is all around me and in that I feel peace. I’m moving towards calmer waters and just knowing that the directional compass has been set is enough to make me feel better, enough to give me something to look forward to. It’s these times I wish I could capture, keep and preserve for days when I really need them. It’s easy to feel balanced in the Mexican sun. It’s more difficult on a Tuesday morning in Washington DC in the steep of a blistering election year.
Work is a yin and it is a yang. I hate having a job that is all encompassing. I miss the monotony of stamping a time card, heading home and not answering email, not taking calls, not even thinking about my job until its time to be there again. Repeat. But then the fallacy of my fantasy… Whereas I could, in fact, afford that life, the way we live and the childhood of my girls would be seriously changed – things we believe are very good right now. We travel, we eat well, we save money. We control our time. All of that would be in jeopardy. Furthermore, though my right brain believes it could tolerate a predictable life hanging somewhere between mediocre and low stress…it couldn’t. My brain needs to be exercised. Feeling good about myself is directly related to being good at something, knowing I am valued and having skills. Maybe me needing those things reflected back to me says a lot about my self-esteem and character. But I do need those things, nonetheless.
So we’re heading back to the real world. And whereas I am comfortable to leave the sand and shells here, and I am resigned to trying to replicate the food, beer and memories amidst the less than tropical sun that we get three months out of the year, what I really want is to feel clear-headed, like I do now. What I really want to be able to do is find clarity in the sea of madness that causes me so much stress on a day to day basis. I want peace. Hopefully the memory of tranquility as played out through these words will be enough to ground me when I re-enter the storm. Because that’s all I get.
The girls are above me now, moved from the pool to the kitchen-turned-rec-room, playing on their iPods and screeching. To me, they are just another set of chirping birds in the jungle’s landscape, raining down on me.
And I love it.