Guess I’m Back Again…

After another long absence, I guess I am back. We are still dealing with the virus, facing another lockdown with the latest Coronavirus variant (this time it’s Omicron) and once more retreating back to our house, double-masking, and all the rest. We are all figuring this is the new normal, beyond sick (pun not intended) of it all. And so is everyone we know.

I’m writing this on January 31, New Year’s Eve for 2021. It was a horribly stressful year, what with the pandemic, and at least up until May, we were still dealing with Arnold not being able to see out of one eye. In spite of the virus, we braved an airplane and airports and ended up going to Florida, to the highly-recommended Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute, to see if any of their surgeons could help Arnold regain his eyesight, which was completely messed up for a variety of reasons. Since he only had one good eye to start with (the one that had the botched surgery), having that eye so badly compromised was a disaster for both of us. He couldn’t drive, could barely to see to read, and the list of things he couldn’t do any more was getting longer and longer every month. From being his generally cheerful and ironic self, he descended into depression and fear that the rest of his life was going to be completely compromised. We were prepared to do anything we could, and basically to go anywhere, to see if there was any remedy for it. Fortunately there was a great surgeon at Bascom-Palmer (Mexican, as it turned out!) who was able to fix the several things inside Arnold’s eye that were causing problem upon problem. His iris was messed up, his pupil was messed up, the cornea was a bit damaged, and on and on. None of the surgeons we saw here in Mexico were willing to tackle it because of him only having that one good eye.

It was hard; because of the virus they wouldn’t even let me into the hospital except for our first meetings with the doctor. Even during the several hours of the surgery, I was holed up back at the hotel with no communication from anyone. However, there was a miraculously positive outcome to the surgery, for which we are eternally grateful, but the truth is that the two prior years took a lot out of both of us. Now that it’s the end of the year I can look back and acknowledge how difficult and discouraging it was. Anything creative – ceramics, or writing – was just set aside. But after a few months of just licking our wounds and healing – literally and figuratively – Arnold began cautiously to drive again, and to pick up where he left off back in 2018 when the messed up eye surgery called a halt to what had been our previous lives.

As is my usual wont, I consoled myself during Arnold’s recovery and return to a bit of normalcy with a major remodeling project which was actually lots of fun. Our house has always had a beautiful view of Lake Chapala from the roof, but getting up there to enjoy it was up a dangerous flight of stairs, and the actual exit from the stairwell onto the roof was also risky and awkward. There was no electricity up there, hence, no lighting anywhere. The way the door opened, you actually had to back up. You had to reverse down a few stairs to get around the door that let you actually out onto the roof, and then, when you were out there, you had the view, but you were still up on the barren roof. Dangerous and not particularly inviting, but from that day back in 2013 when we saw the house for the first time, I promised myself that when the time was right, I would turn that dreary roof into something wonderful. So, basically stuck here because of the pandemic, I found a great construction guy, who continues to be our do-everything person for household jobs, who brought in a crew and with a bit of outside help, I pretty much designed the whole thing myself. It turned out great, and now we can actually go up there and sit on our new mirador (rooftop deck) and enjoy the breezes from the lake, the sunsets and sunrises, and the ever-changing view of the lake beyond the pueblo. I am still finishing up the last decorating touches up there, but I love doing that stuff, so it’s fun to bit by bit see it come together, including designing some very cool chairs, and having them built by our trusty ironworker.

Of course with the pandemic we haven’t had any guests, and other than a couple of furtive, double-masked trips north to help my sister move into a new house, we haven’t traveled either. It’s so sad – this is the time in our lives when we should be able to be zipping off to Paris or whatever, but that is out of reach at least for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, we haven’t gotten sick, and in that respect, so far, so good. Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, hopefully will start off a year that might see the end – or at least the reduction – of the pandemic, but we will have to get through a couple of months of this Omicron thing raging throughout Mexico before we can even begin to think about relaxing a bit. So I am just going to stay home, hopefully work out in my ceramic studio, and be thankful, for what it’s worth, that I have managed to get to be 75 years old without anything serious going wrong with me.

Ditto for Arnold – but it is certainly true that with me now being 75 and him being 85, we are treading a little more tenderly and facing the fact that in some areas, we are beginning to slow down a bit. Nothing too horrible, but I do notice a difference in some things – my balance is shot, my eyesight is being hindered by a small cataract that will have to be dealt with at some point, and so on. But things could be so much worse. And after Arnold’s misadventures with cataract surgery, I am terrified by the whole thing. One of us has to be able to see, and he will never be able to see particularly well, but at least he can function reasonably well these days. I will try to write more often and make note of at least a few things that life is throwing at me these days. At least I am going to try, and for the moment, that is all I can say. We, like so many, have lost a few friends to the virus, so no one is taking anything for granted, as far as future plans might be concerned, around here. All we can say as we have raised our glasses for New Year’s, is that we hope we are around for the next one, and that’s about it.

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