Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cuenca is an option.

I’ve twenty-eight days left to my three month stay in Ecuador. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I didn’t leave my hang-ups behind. But I didn’t come to Ecuador to escape problems; I came to find an answer to a question---to find if Ecuador is a viable option as a place to retire. Not that I’d necessarily choose the option--- but that I’d find out if I could I live here and be reasonably content. The answer is yes. Living here is an indisputable option.

Something about Cuenca makes me feel at home. It's partly the funk---Cuenca is an antique city and I admire the look and feel of just about anything antique. I liked playing in messy garages and exploring attics when I was a kid. I like flea markets. I liked living in a boat on the water in the Sausalito houseboat community. I liked living in studio ware-house space in San Francisco. 

Cuenca is a city with lots of graffiti and a population of plenty of down-home-type-people who feel relaxed about themselves and life in general. Despite my inclination towards the funky, I like to dress well too. I like good furniture and art around me. Cuenca offers abundant art and an absorbing culture which appeal to my refined sensibilities. Its easy going atmosphere tends to calm my jumpy disposition. Cuenca feels like an-all-around good fit. I defer to later whether or not I’ll actually choose this option.

It would be easier socially speaking to stay in the United States. I was born in Sacramento, CA. I speak English with the fluency of a native speaker. I would miss people I know and love who live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. When the time comes to choose whether or not to seek permanent residency in Ecuador--- there is no question it will be a difficult decision to make. I’m a smart man to have tested the water about this first before diving into the river. 

I’ll need to consider more than one aspect when the time comes to make this decision.

One aspect is that I am bi-polar. I frequent chat rooms---you know---chat rooms--- and once I heard a person in a chat dismiss this diagnosis. I could tell she felt angry about it even on-line. She claimed the term is not much more than a linguistic device used to absolve people of responsibility for their actions. I’m a mostly practicing Catholic and yes, I agree people are responsible for their actions. I agree with the moral teachings of the Church. I agree.

Yet two days before I left for Ecuador I drove for five hours to reach the brothel called Mustang Ranch in Sparks, Nevada. I put $20,000 on my American Express Card within a day and a half to pay for services received---almost all of it dancing, companionship, conviviality, sharing meals, conversation and cuddling. I did this on instinct---I just felt the need for intimacy. I knew the "being scared" I was feeling about going to Ecuador would dissipate in the arms and charms of alluring women. They did.

Each of the four classy women I had fun with at Mustang Ranch made me feel like I owned a million dollars. I can’t help but now view legal prostitution kindly in light of this positive experience. These women were more than women selling sexual pleasure. They were companions. American Express is going to pay for their company because I turned out to be a really bad risk---but I felt both determined and uncertain about going to Ecuador before their help assured me I felt fit for the adventure.

Would I have done this kind of spending if I had not been influenced by powerful mania on the eve of my departure? It makes little sense to say I would have. Yet, I am responsible for my actions. If I'm not, then who is?

In the process of making my final decision I will need to consider that in the San Francisco Bay Area I have a system of medical and psychiatric support already in place to help me manage my general health and bi-polar illness. It’s provided by the Veterans Administration Hospital in San Francisco. This fact does not mean I'll remain in San Mateo. It means it gets put on the side of the scale that tips towards remaining in San Mateo.

A fair amount of time will pass before I'm ready to make the final decision. Other factors will need to be weighed. Time may later have things to say I can't or won't listen to now. It will take time to obtain a discharge of bankruptcy. The petition I filed to have my marriage annulled by the church could take longer than a year. If I decide to move to Ecuador, I won't do so until after these matters are resolved.

I acted on instinct and mania when I visited Mustang Ranch and charged American Express all that money. It was a vacation from reality. It broke boundaries and felt magnificent. It got me to go to Ecuador. And I wonder how I’m ever going to honestly feel the contrition the church teaches that penitents need for genuine repentance in the confessional.