When You Decide on a Brand New Life
- by Mimi Bejarano
If somebody had an almost perfect life – according to the social standards and what everybody wants -- that was me. Born in Venezuela from a Cuban mother, I realized in 2003 that my country had a horrible future; and despite of having a great job and career, I had to leave, like my Cuban grandmother did, to start again in a new country.
After traveling a lot during my life, I always had the fantasy of living in Spain because we always want what we don’t have, and what is more glamorous than Europe for a Caribbean person. And, while many of my friends were starting their lives in the old continent, it was much easier in my case to move to United States – in particular, to Miami. I visited this city for many summers when I was a kid and enjoyed the Venezuelan prosperity. You could travel all the time to do shopping at Florida’s shopping malls and to visit Mickey Mouse countless times at Disney World.
So, before Spain, I, too, moved to Miami which was a friendly territory because my aunt and grandma already lived there, and the year after my arrival, my mom came, my brothers, then my sisters, and my nieces – until 17 years went by, surrounded by whole life known affections. Even my dogs crossed the ocean with me.
From Venezuela I brought my experience as a journalist and TV producer after having worked at HBO and on other international projects that helped get me fast enough into the TV world in Miami. I have to say that my career has always been fascinating and full of adventures…. until it wasn’t anymore. Yes, my career was fun. Some might even say “glamorous,” even working for more than ten years at the Walt Disney Company. Once I did a project for six months traveling around the world filming curiosities with a cameraman and a big backpack. I got to be one of the General Producers for Amazing Race for seven seasons traveling around Latin America. At HBO, I did documentaries, went to many film festivals, and interviewed many people. I also became an American citizen, owned two properties, had my family around me, and almost got married a second time with an American man. And me, 49 years old, healthy and stable…I had it all.
But I didn’t feel totally happy. And not because I was discontent or not grateful for so many good things around me. It was an internal unhappiness. Like a constant anguish and urgent need for a change. My life had turned into a wheel of routine without adventures. The days when I traveled to do TV shows were over, and I only had stability without any startles. I guess all the travel I did during my career made me a travel junkie and when seated at a desk, I became crazy!
It was only the last 4 years that were boring. What I would do everyday was to drive my car through an endless highway with a hell of a traffic, to arrive to an office and spend all day in front of a computer. I earned a salary that paid for my house and my cravings but left me without time to enjoy life.
I was getting older – almost 50 – and I was very concerned with the “retirement” idea. I always thought why wait all your life to start enjoying life when probably my legs were already weak, or I was going to be tired, or had no place for adventures. And because I always relied on myself when it came to finances, that idea always scared me. I was also childless, so why wait until I was an old lady to start enjoying TIME – the only thing in life you cannot get back.
In a magic moment of self revelation, I put together those two concepts of wanting time and my youth fantasy of living in Spain where, supposedly, people enjoy life. Why not? That was going to be my 50 years old gift to myself.
I started right away to put all the pieces together, to see how could I help myself financially, to rent my properties, and to do some remote work here and there. And that’s how I decided to begin all over again.
It was a tough decision. It implied leaving the man I loved and my family, quitting a job with Mickey Mouse, leaving a house close to the beach with palm trees and a big yard, my friends and my roots, to enter a new, wholly unknown dimension.
I visited Spain for a month and went around some cities where I had friends so I could make a decision. But, in the bottom of my heart, I knew Valencia was going to be my new home. The day I arrived by bus to the city, I had happy tears because I knew my gut was right. I rented an apartment in the city center, went back to Miami, quit my job, rented my properties, hugged my family, and broke my heart leaving behind my partner who couldn’t share with me this crazy adventure of getting into a plane with my 15 year old dog, of living in Valencia: with time, freedom, and right after, a new Spanish love.
I don’t regret anything about this radical life change with totally new people around me. Since I have migrated twice, I brought my furniture from USA to help me feel I have some roots from somewhere.
Nowadays, I have great friends here, love the city vibe, and the sensation of living in the old continent. It makes me pinch myself often when I walk the old streets. I am not on vacation.…I live here!
The first time I traveled to Asia was back in 2002 when for three months I filmed curiosities around the world. It was so great an opportunity that I resigned from HBO. The trip reminded me of something my father told me: “once you see so much of this world, your capacity for wonder will eventually disappear.” And those words followed me until today; and even having some truth, I find that living in Europe hasn’t taken that capacity for wonder away from me – yet.
My life is surrounded by love and adventure -- nice and friendly people, awesome food, beautiful Mediterranean Sea. And I have what I wanted most: TIME. And when I was at the top of happiness because all my plans were in place, Covid-19 came to change it all….