When I moved into La Casa Azul, the refrigerator was filled with old food. It was sitting, skewed, on top of two old wooden pallets, and there was mold and rust everywhere. I threw out the food, scrubbed each surface with soap. When I brought its condition up with the man who handled the rental for the famous Mexican artist who owned the blue house, Umberto looked blank and suggested I paint over it. I didn’t let this mar my new dream home. The building was alive with color and light. I felt like I could spend the rest of my life there. I’d never felt that way before. When I moved into my current home, my landlord emphasized the importance of the hedges being watered, of my not interfering with the automatic timer. When I discovered the timer didn’t work, I told my landlord. “Do you have a hose?” he asked. Last year he stopped having the hedges trimmed, though I’ve fought for them to be done again twice now in the past six months. But the pyracanthas have been getting more and more bare, my privacy in my courtyard garden now more illusion than real. And then my refrigerator died, and he wheeled a “new” one for me upright down the road from around the block, rattling and bumping along the asphalt. My jaw dropped. I spent three hours cleaning it out and trying to get the marks out of the floor, only to discover it didn’t work anymore. It shouldn’t have been a surprise.
But it wasn’t just the hassle of the refrigerator. It was cumulative. The hedges might be dying. Could it really be from lack of water? “Do you have a hose?” rang in my mind. “Puedes pintarlo,” Umberto had said. You can paint it. And before I left Todos Santos, the refrigerator stopped working all together. I didn’t even ask them to fix it. Things had deteriorated beyond that. I lived out of my two little ice chests. I felt helpless in Todos Santos, trapped. In the end I fled my beloved Casa Azul. I’ll always be glad I did, and I’ll always regret it couldn’t have worked out differently. When the wealthy Mexican artist refused to give me back the $700 he owed me from my deposits, the bad fridge was one of his reasons. The memory still brings me to wall of anger, the stone cold against my fingers. So when I found myself living out of my ice chests again here, I know the rest of this was at work beneath the surface. I was desperate to get away, out of all proportion to the circumstances. I threw myself once more into looking for a mobile home, contemplating buying a trailer, even looking at other rentals. But then my landlord gave me his refrigerator, and the panic eased. I am now soaking the hedges every other day, hoping they’ll revive. And I’m thankful I’m not fleeing. I know when the day comes, it will be hard to leave my enchanted courtyard garden. I don’t want it to come in haste, unsettled, my need to escape eclipsing everything. I want the peace of mind to cherish what I have through that last day, still obscured in mist, be it in two months or twelve years. If I could do it over again, I would stroll through the kitchen at La Casa Azul with all my gladness and all my gratitude sitting there beside my grief. I would run my hand against the orange wall, take in the sunlight and the colors and relive that last goodbye without the taint of despair, my clear heart cheering in a loud and grateful voice.