Pondering Happiness

I kind of just need to process what’s going on inside my head, so please bear with me.

I’ve been in a bit of a tailspin for the last few weeks. I thought my heart had finally joined my gut and brain about living here in San Miguel, but alas it was just trying to be kind. It has returned to pining for Europe, and I find myself struggling almost on a daily basis.

This is a great town and is a very comfortable place to live. However, the things that bothered/concerned me about leaving Europe have all pretty much manifested.

This year during the holiday season, my dreaded “holiday blues” returned. Spending time with friends helped, but I found myself constantly on the edge of depression getting a firmer grip. I didn’t experience this in Europe, and I think the environment had a lot to do with that. The festiveness, lights, Christmas markets, and incredible New Year’s Eve celebrations are enough to give me the “holiday magic.”

Almost a month later I’m still pushing back at mild depression. I get temporary relief when I’m hanging out with friends, enjoying a sunset, etc., but it’s short-lived. I know a big part of that is simply because I’m not fully on board with staying here long term. Most of the things I love about life in Europe don’t exist here.

Two things have had me pondering this more fully. First, I was going back in my mind to a conversation I had with friends in England shortly after we announced we’d probably be returning to Mexico. He pointed out that in the last few years he’s seen me write about places I LOVED, but when we’ve lived in Mexico he didn’t recall that same level of excitement and passion.

I reviewed this in my head and on the blog and I have to agree. The times I’ve written most glowingly occurred when we were in Scotland, Brasov, Prague and Budapest.

The second was during our conversation with Tigger where I heard myself say the following: “I like it here, but I don’t want to live somewhere I ‘like.’ I want to live somewhere I ‘love,’ where I feel joy. Remember how I loved Budapest so much that I had actually considered cancelling our trip to Paris so I could celebrate my birthday there instead? That’s the kind of place I want to live.”

It is a challenge, though, because I do enjoy it here. There is plenty to like, but there is also plenty that I miss.  Do I live somewhere that is “adequate” or in the place that makes my heart sing?

Tigger would prefer to stay here, but when we discuss more specifics about his feelings they aren’t really rooted so much in the place itself. I know he basically just doesn’t want to move, and I feel the same way, but at the same time my heart just isn’t here.

Despite my distaste for how the Hungarian government has handled the whole refugee situation, and that much of the citizenry agrees with their president, Budapest is where my heart is. The world is full of shmucks, but it’s also full of wonderful people. And I know there are plenty of Hungarians who are not in agreement with their leaders.

When I look back over the last almost 5 years (!) of travel, Budapest continues to stand out for me on so many levels. It was hard to leave and even harder to think of not returning.

I don’t feel that way about San Miguel.

I’m still weighing it all out, but I feel like life’s too short to not be where my heart wants. Unlike the incredibly tragic stories of the refugees, I do have a choice where I live. Well, as long as the local government agrees. But you get my meaning, I’m sure.

We’ve made no firm decisions either way, but don’t be surprised if you see us heading back to Europe this spring. We have a few cities on our list  and some ideas on how to possibly still make it work in case Hungary gives us the middle finger on our residency application.

The hardest part is making the decision. And that process is a real b**ch.

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  1. As a European-turned-American and fellow world traveler I empathize with your deliberations, but also found myself wondering: what is the list of things you love about those European cities. I think you said it in the comments: something new to explore all the time, great rail system, diverse food … Still it would make for a great contemplative post (comparing this to Mexican/Smaller cities). Best of luck with the decision and thanks for sharing.

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  2. Ah, now this is strange because I LOVE Europe and had never had any desire to visit Mexico…….until I started reading travel blogs-I was intrigued and my interest was really piqued. So I read everything about it and thought this is a place I need to go to. However, I don’t think I was listening to my gut, I just wanted to be where the “cool” kids were. I’m not saying I don’t want to visit Mexico, I do; but I think sometimes you have a feel for a place before you even visit and I just have an affininty for European cities/large towns. IMHO you are European in need, and Tigger is community driven-this can definitely be worked out to meet everyone’s happiness. Thanks for keeping it real.x

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    • Mexico is a great country and definitely worth a visit. When it comes to living there long term, though, it’s a different story. At least for me. We always enjoy our time here, but after a few months in the same town we’re usually ready to move on.

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  3. I love Europe, and Budapest is a great city, so I totally get where you’re coming from. Last winter, Andy and I were in Spain during Christmas, and even though they had their version of Christmas markets, they were pretty lame (no alcohol or food???) so we decided we really need to stay in Germany during December, no matter how cold it might be. We’re city people, so living in a smaller place just isn’t our thing. We outgrew Freiburg long before we finally admitted we needed a change. Berlin is wonderful, so much to do, so much diversity, so many international restaurants…I love it. I also understand not wanting to move, but like you said, if you’re staying in a place you just “like” because it’s easier than changing locations and dealing with bureaucratic hell (as it might be trying to get a resident’s visa in Budapest), you’ll end up even more miserable. If you do move to Europe, I hope we see you again sometime!

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    • No alcohol or food? Why bother having a market then? Sheesh

      Berlin is high on my list, and we may end up there for at least a little bit. We definitely need to spend more time there and with you guys!

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  4. Hi, Talon. I’m flashing back to our chat when we met–when you spoke so highly of Budapest. I felt your excitement about it…

    I understand, too. I liked SM, but I was more pumped up about Guanajuato. SM is a lovely town, but I think for some of us, there’s certain something that it lacks (and for others, it’s just right).

    I hope that whatever feels right for you both is where you end up–and now that I’ve met you, I’m sure you’ll be there. 🙂

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    • It is a great town. For a long-term stay, you definitely have to be wired a certain way. If someone is a creature of habit, this is a great place to live. I am not one of those creatures, though. LOL

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  5. “…but don’t be surprised if you see us heading back to Europe this spring.”

    I say this with the utmost respect, my friend, I have been waiting for this post and I will not be surprised. Life is short, find Tigger’s base and fill your heart with joy.

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  6. I understand completely. Seems to me it is the isolation of SMA and Mexico in general. You are a rolling stone and gathering moss is not for you. Imagine Tigger is the same though expressed differently.

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    • Tigger is actually quite content to gather moss. I most definitely am not, and you are very right about the isolation of both SMA and Mexico. It was an issue before, and it remains one still for me. If they had a European-like rail system, it would be a different story maybe. 😀

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  7. I do understand that you have to be where your heart is happiest, but selfishly on my part I hope you’ll stay through April as we are coming April 7 for 6 weeks and we are hoping to meet you!

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    • Well, you never know. We might still be here, although it’s looking like we’ll be leaving in March if we decide to go since that’s when our lease is up. But as that is practically around the corner, we may delay a bit.

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  8. This is merely me, musing: Do you think it is possible that out of all the traveling you have done – things that in my “real” life were saved for huge treats, vacations – you have inadvertently talked yourself into that feeling of needing to be entertained? I have no yardstick, nothing to measure by.

    I just wanted to open the subject for discussion – I cannot say whether I am right or full of it.

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    • It really isn’t about being entertained. Part of my current struggle is this is really a pretty small town, and I’ve become more of a city person. I also feel somewhat trapped here because Mexico doesn’t have a rail system so getting anywhere different is at least a few-hour bus ride (I mean outside the few places that are within an hour’s ride) from here. I love Mexican food, but I also need more food diversity and there really isn’t a ton here (again, small town). In a larger city, I can just go out for a walk and see different things, but here once you’ve walked around here a while there isn’t much “new.”

      I DO need more exposure to new things, to explore, etc., and the advantage of living in Europe is that it is MUCH easier to do that. Full-time travel definitely has made it harder for me to enjoy seeing the same-same every day. No doubt about that.

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  9. Oh I get it! I am sure you will figure it all out and find something to please you both. The beauty of it is that you can enjoy the moment where ever you are and know you can always move again. Take it all in and soak up what is around you, meditate and walk. It will all become clear. 🙂

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    • Thankfully, he also loved Budapest and Prague, so we have mutually pleasing options at least. I really know the decision, I’m just fighting with it. Don’t know why I still do that but I do. lol

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