I had lunch today at ten-ten-pie near Centro. Sometimes I end up here, as opposed to my favorite restaurant closer to home, when I'm done doing Centro chores. They make “milanesa de pollo sin papas con ensalada” for me even though it's not on the menu. It’s another place in Mexico where I feel well treated. Although I’ve eaten there with friends, I'm usually there alone because often it's an afterthought. I'm hungry, and it's reliable. The waitress is very competent and always gives me a big smile even though I take one of six seats beneath the umbrella, so I was surprised the other day when a stranger approached me and asked if she could join my table. My waitress reportedly wouldn’t seat her outside alone. “Are you sure?” She nodded "yes," so, of course, I asked her to sit down.
This lovely lady is visiting San Miguel for maybe the fifth time while she decides whether to sell her house, an unusually deliberative approach to living in San Miguel. Many tourists show up here and find it unbearable to leave. My new friend needs a bridge partner. She plays with the topnotch crowd over at Hotel Real de Menas, not far from my house. I was not too enthusiastic because, after years of playing off and on online, I’m still a novice, and my last bridge partner got a little crabby. I explained to her I used to be a lawyer, but I’m just not that competitive now. I was assured that would be fine. We agreed to try – one day a week, no more.
Today, I checked in (for maybe the fourth time) at the post office for a package sent about a month ago from the U.S. Hooray! It arrived. I carried it to the optometrist’s. It wasn’t heavy, but it was large. By the time I trudged back up Calle Relox, I was tired and hungry. Hence, I returned to ten-ten-pie for the second time in less than a week. While there, a young Mexican friend stopped by my table. She had her daughter with her. They were on the way to meet a friend at Parque Juarez. This young woman had talked with me a couple months earlier about the possibility of traveling to Germany. She just felt the call to go to Europe and explore. She’s a devoted mother, but someone she loves had suggested to her that good mothers stay home. I don’t think so anymore.
I now believe good mothers model for their children how to live out their destinies, to set aside their fears and take a leap, not irresponsibly but understanding that our lives are always in flux anyway. Since we can’t hold them back, we need to stay attentive to our hearts. So, mi amiga thanked me for my support. She knows things could go awry, but she needs to leave. I believe she and her child will be fine. She has relatives who will put her up, and she’s Mexican. I suspect young Mexican adults have a better sense, perhaps, than similarly situated Americans, of how to make themselves at home in the world at large. We could acquire those traits. It helps to be bilingual and to be exposed to people who have already traveled a lot. All that is available in San Miguel.
Having said all this, I began to write to make this point: San Miguel teaches me regularly how to say “goodbye” because so often people who are bid “farewell” come back. Additionally, a casual talk often leads to beginnings of friendships and other wondrous events. San Miguel de Allende is magical in that sense --along with the fireworks, the roosters and roof-dogs that sing us awake maybe at 5 a.m. Today, I was able to say “goodbye” to my friend with a phrase I’ve been practicing, “Que le vaya bien.” “Egualmente,” she replied, pleased and a little surprised. I learned this wish when someone wished it for me, the best way. We need to be commended by others to our own good luck and to turn around, to pause and give those good wishes back. In such reciprocity, we cross each other’s paths, maybe we stop and chat, and we see each other off with hope in our hearts. Que le vaya bien.