This piece was written for an open mic event in Todos Santos, Mexico during a three-month stay.

For 12 weeks we’ve come to this place of dust and sky, water and palm. We travel to live, to experience. We run away from the cold and the daily routines. We sprint for warmth and adventure.

11 encounters with tiny forms of life in our bedroom including a scorpion, a mouse trapped in a beer bottle, three wayward geckos, two crickets and four roaches. In Idaho we’d play the sound of fake crickets to sleep to at night. Here, we stalk and destroy real ones. They are too loud to sleep to and don’t come with a volume button. The scorpion, crickets and roaches have been dispatched. Calling them palmetto bugs does not make them cuddly. My father-in-law wanted to kill the mouse. I set it free.

10 days of school my children have attended thus far. The commute involves two left turns down a dirt road. Park at the big cactus, enter through a butterfly gate. My children have learned about skeletons, made ornaments from paper and pipe cleaners, and discovered the hard way that the school cat can bite as well as purr.

9 doses of medicine I’ve administered to my three-year-old after our middle-of-the-night visit to St. Luke’s. The trick is not to pound on the door, but on the window to its right, which is where the doctor sleeps. The three-year-old is fine. Her compromised breathing was a temporary condition.

8 things I’ve stripped from my life. Things I don’t need or want. Things I’ve shed like snake skin, at least while we’re here. They are: Twitter, Pinterest, nail polish, iphone, garbage disposal, dishwasher, contact with relatives who suck life from my heart, and Starbucks. I admit that I miss the garbage disposal and dishwasher.

7 times I’ve checked the news online to peak at life in my former world. Children were murdered in Connecticut. When children die I wish I believed in heaven or hell or at least karma. A mall shooting, football tragedies and a prank call that ended in suicide. The politics continue as they had before. Movie stars are still famous and troubled. The spouting whales care for none of this. My husband asks why I put myself through the news. I have no answer.

6 o’clock feels like ten, but that’s what happens when you start drinking at two pm. I can’t decide if it’s wrong that we somehow make this work.

My 5 year-old has five names for the dune buggy, her preferred method of transport. They are: dune truck, dump trucky, doom car, truck buggy, and doom trucky. Don’t worry, I don’t drive after two pm. 

4 people comprise this perfect family, all cuteness and cuddles to be enjoyed before the girls become teenage and foreign. I’m not sure why I’m lucky this way, but my husband is the best man I know.

3 is the average number of turtle pancakes each of my children consume when my father-in-law makes breakfast. No turtles were harmed in the making of these pancakes. They are turtle only in shape.

2 in-laws have created a home for us here. They forgive my critical nature. I forgive their exaggerations, mispronunciations, political incorrectness, propensity to lose things and questionable kitchen practices. They are perfect grandparents. And, they raised the best man I know.

I have 1 opportunity to explore the world, to smile through life, to show kindness, to mean something to someone else. I have one full heart and no regrets.