Back to Oaxaca, Mexico: A Brief Personal Essay

Next Friday I will be returning to Mexico for an extended stay. At this moment it is difficult to know for how long. By the time I return to Oaxaca, I will have been gone for almost two months.

Sunset at Las Cuevitas, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

You have not heard from me in a while for many reasons. I have been in North Carolina to pack and move, and in the process sort through the collections of life — art treasures from around the world, family photographs, paintings and pottery, chef’s accoutrements acquired when I owned a gourmet cookware shop, cooking school and cafe so many years ago in South Bend, Indiana.

The accumulation of thirty plus years is daunting. There were boxes in the attic I hadn’t opened since two moves ago.  I found vintage La Grange County Amish dolls that I at once gifted to the Indiana State Museum and complete set of 1940’s Ohio-made Blair Gay Plaid pottery that I hauled to Replacements and sold.

I am the keeper of my son’s vintage Tonka trucks, infant clothes, and university diploma.  I am the keeper of copper cookware bought in Paris in 1984, every tax return since 1990, and every university program and proposal I ever developed and wrote during my career.  I made a pile in the yard and started a fire.  Friends came to help me push through, sort and eliminate. I couldn’t have done it without them. Then I drove a fourteen-foot U-Haul truck to a 5′ x 15′ storage unit and with the help of two wonderful Latino men who I picked up at the day labor gathering spot, completed my move.

Goodbyes are not easy, even as I look forward to spending most of each year in my beloved Oaxaca with friends there. I know that change is constant, nothing is forever, experiences matter, and staying open to possibility is essential.  I have closed the door to the home on the pond that I built and shared with another.  I have said goodbye to dearest friends.  North Carolina is still home, yet when I return, it will be to another place. Friends there and around the world are my constant source of caring and support.

Guacalotes-6 FlyingShuttleLoom2-11

As all this was going on, I organized more Oaxaca workshops, wrote and published a personal essay in Minerva Rising Literary Journal, sold one of my photographs to a consulting company, had a skin cancer surgically removed and a pre-cancer treatment on my face as a result of too much youthful sun-bathing on Southern California beaches where I grew up.

Here, now, in this northern California beach town, I am with my ninety-eight year old mother who sleeps in the next room, and my dearest sister who lives just a mile away.  Each moment matters. It is a great lesson in how to live life.

See you in Oaxaca.

17 responses to “Back to Oaxaca, Mexico: A Brief Personal Essay

  1. Norma–Good luck to you! I am way behind the curve but it sounds like you are starting a new chapter in your life. The unknown is always a little trepidatious, but you are such a successful person, I see your future filled with lots of adventure, happiness and success.
    Will be reading your upcoming blogs which are always so enjoyable!
    Thinking about you!!

  2. We are all carrying baggage. Sometimes, like now, you were able
    to set yourself free in a Karma burning. Your heart on the flames.
    Your honesty allows you to sweep the embers into history.Bravo!

  3. I wish you well. Please note new email. I’d like to keep in touch with you.

  4. You always have a place to stay in NC, dear Norma. Happy trails thru Cali & Mexico once more!

  5. I admire you, Norma, you are a strong woman! I agree with you that friends, worldwide, are what make life wonderful. Please know that you have a friend here too, in Mexico City. ¡Mucho ánimo, amiga! Te mando un gran abrazo!

  6. The northern end of Monterey Bay isn’t “too bad” a place for R & R and re-centering! Keep your eyes peeled for good Mole. If you don’t mind birds hovering while you eat, try an outdoor table at Zelda’s in Capitola. Food isn’t anything special but a fun atmosphere. My European mother-in-law wants go there on each visit with us. Bruce Anderson in Silicon Valley ( and former Hoosier)

    • Oh, you sly fox Bruce. You know exactly where I am! I’ve been to Zelda’s many times. Great ambience. What could be better than looking out over the sand and the Pacific. From one former Hoosier to another, Saludos.

  7. Go forward with great heart. Your world awaits you.

  8. Handled with aplomb, as always! A hug to you, Leslie

  9. You’re a wonder, Norma! You’ll always have a place to touch down here in NC, so keep us in mind! Hasta la proxima!

  10. Your photographs are magnificent.
    ..and thanks for your “journal” of the past months. I admire your thirst for authenticity and adventure. This impermanence is hard to learn even though it underpins everything.

    Safe traveling
    Mary Pelham

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