Stories From Paradise

Permanent Resident

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I finally have my permanent residency in Mexico. It feels a little strange but is a milestone. I have been living here in Tulum since 2006, after having bought property in 2005 and after meeting Tulum after surviving cancer in 2004. I stayed because I felt good here and could get away from that cancer part of my life: I just about have.

When they asked me about scars and tattoos at immigration, I forgot the one on my left breast and mentioned only the little mole they took off on my face and the cut in my ear where, after years of not removing it, my favorite earring ate the skin. It wasn’t until I was leaving the immigration building, hopeful that finally I would get a visa, that I realized I still had this scar from breast cancer.

That is progress because once you have cancer, it colors everything. Not just for the cancer patient but also for everyone who knows her or him. It brings up all these issues of mortality, fragility, and the very temporal nature of our lives. If we let it, it can bring us into a fear of living. Or, if we allow it, it enables us to live so much in the moment that we relish each second of life. I try to focus on the latter. It is a happier way to go through life. I am pretty sure that is why I chose to move to a new place and start a new life. There was just too much fear in the places I knew and it was easier to explore the places I didn’t and live and learn all over again.

Permanent resident, however, seems like an oxymoron. I teach yoga here, study Buddhism, survived near death experiences and have watched my sleepy little village and a pristine jungle change into one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world. I know nothing is permanent. But I also know that change is the only constant, and if I can ride the wave of change, meet, influence and be influenced by people from all over the world, it really doesn’t matter how I am classified. What matters is that my life is easier because of it. And I feel happiness in the validation, however oxymoronic it may be.