She may be one of the richest and most beautiful women in the world, but I view her as supremely unenviable. She may live in a gloriously gilded penthouse high up on Fifth Avenue, but I see it as a cage.

She may be eviscerated by critics, as I read recently on Facebook (“She married him for money, so she deserves to be miserable!,” one of the countless vicious critics wrote), but I have only empathy for her. Rightly or wrongly, I imagine she feels isolated, lonely, unloved (except by her only child, who is likely, in time, to align himself with his rich and powerful father, as his half-siblings have), misunderstood, deeply unhappy. She’s trapped.

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, I, too was married (briefly) to a man much like her husband, so I know first-hand how privately cruel and abusive such a bully can be. She had, I’m convinced, no idea what she was getting herself in for when she married him, and I’m sure she had little choice in the matter. Men like that take what they want without waiting for answers – throwbacks to Neanderthals dragging women by the hair.

I’ve been thinking about her, high up there in her mid-Manhattan penthouse, a lot this week because I just moved into a new (to me) apartment in the same apartment complex where I’ve been living happily since June, here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. My previous apartment, a one-bedroom on the ground floor near the parking lot, was lovely, cozy and bright. But for me this one is even lovelier, cozier, and brighter. It’s a studio apartment on the rooftop (azotea) of this two-story structure. With tongue in cheek, I’m calling it my penthouse.

Well, it almost fits the full dictionary definition – “an apartment on the top floor of a tall building, typically luxuriously fitted and offering fine views” – if you ignore the “tall” and “luxurious” aspects. Actually, for me, the views alone are luxurious enough. From this perch now I can see the Parroquia church in el centro through a now-blooming jacaranda tree:

This afternoon, shooting down from my tiny, private patio, I took photos of a joyous, boisterous wedding procession – complete with mojigangas (larger-than-life dancing puppets, costumed as bride and groom) and a marching brass band playing an eclectic mix of lively tunes, including “Roll out the Barrel”:

Last night, from my kitchen window over the sink, I could track the climb of the almost-full moon; and later from my front windows I enjoyed a fireworks display in the distance celebrating God-knows-what political or cultural event in sparkling red, green, and white explosions (the colors of Mexico’s flag).

Last night’s moon from my kitchen window

My penthouse patio, which is just large enough to fit a small table and two chairs plus some potted plants – lavender, bougainvillea, rosemary, geraniums, and a few others I have yet to identify by name – adds to the luxury for me. I can be alone there. No one can see me. I can wear my thirty-year-old bikini. I can read, sunbathe, then watch the sun set, sipping a glass of tequila and Fresca (known as a Paloma, to the locals), as I count my many, many blessings. At the top of that long list are: PEACE and FREEDOM.

A section of my own private patio

My penthouse is not gold-plated (thank God); rather, it’s freshly painted in a sunny pale-yellow color that makes me smile. The furniture is old. The fireplace may or may not work (need to check into that). The ceiling is in traditional red brick held in place by strong wooden beams. The dining room table seats two comfortably:


I’ve been thinking of that other woman in her far fancier penthouse because I think, if she could, if she really knew what I have now that she doesn’t, she’d want to trade places with me. But even if she offered me every shiny gold-plated object in the world, I’d refuse.

As an older, presumably wiser, woman now, I’m striving to have compassion for her. I can only hope that over time she will find her own way out of that gilded cage and begin to know what priceless peace and freedom feel like.

33 thoughts on “Penthouse”

  1. Bonnie Dear…Awesome…and it is all true. Up there in your penthouse bird’s nest…you really do have the best of the best…don’t we all, here in San Miguel. Enjoy your view, your sun, your peace, your quiet….Love You! Pamela

  2. Beautiful! I was there in my imagination. Want to be there for real!
    And I agree with your about the bird in the gilded cage. We may be wrong, but I’ve heard similar speculations from so many women–we can feel it, I think.

    1. So come and visit, L., dear! 🙂 Yes, perhaps women who have been unhappily married can feel for her the most. She tries to hide it behind her “model-smile,” but we can still see her unhappiness.

  3. Don’t our values make a huge difference in our lives? Money can’t buy your peace and freedom.
    With love,

  4. And I love your view through the beautiful jacarandas. They are so brilliant at this time of year. ❤️

  5. Totally relate. I’ve got my plants, my books, my friends, computer and internet, organic stores, sun shine every day, a balcony, swimming pool in walking distance, low rent, cable t.v., free calls to the U.S. . . . And if I want to stay up late and read and eat popcorn in bed and make crumbs, I can!

    Sign for next march – FREE IVANKA!

  6. Thanks so much for the rich opening and look into the space you now call home. I hope that you are also finding satisfying spaces and places filled with people and love.

    1. Oh, Bob, thanks so much — and great to know you’re reading my WOW posts! It’s so nice to stay in touch this way. Yes, SMA has given me a new lease on life, for which I’m deeply grateful. Best to you! — BB xx

  7. I can’t wait to see your lovely nest that affords you a front row seat to all the serendipity and spontaneity that is San Miguel. I have little sympathy for Melania but it certainly shows that money cannot buy everything! You are indeed a rich woman.

    1. We must make a plan, pronto!, Suzanne — before you go back to Boston… Yes, I feel like a rich woman at this stage and in this place (especially in this moment, doing my e-mailing in bed 🙂 ). Such luxury doesn’t cost money. — xx

  8. I agree entirely. She signed up for a lot of things when she was much younger and less aware, but not for this. Your life sounds lovely, as is mine. San Miguel….

  9. If you read her personal history, she married her father, an uber dominant, alpha male, materialistic and manipulative. She seems to be waking up in some of the photos and I applaud her the decision to stay in New York, where her sister lives nearby and can be an antidote to her loneliness in the glass tower. Felicidades on your apartment! For someone who loves and appreciates Mexican culture as you do, I look forward to reading more tales from your Orchestra seating in the theatre of San Miguel’s street life.

    1. Interesting additional facet to her story, Patrice! Thank you. Let’s hope she finds her way in this new thicket. As for me, in my “penthouse,” I’m happy to have left such drama behind me.

  10. Bonnie, congratulations. I wouldn’t trade places with her for anything in the world. Wealth is so over rated; it ends in so many qualities I have no respect for: greed, hypocricy, cheating, and worst of all, hurting innocent, hard working people. I listened to a Ted Talk sometime back where several generations of people were being tracked. If I recall correctly, they were initially asked what their goals were in life. Most replied that they wanted to be successful, earn a lot of money, have big houses, and basically be rich. As they entered their golden years, it was amazing how many of them no longer longed to be successful and rich but be comfortable, at peace, and more than anything enjoy loving relationships. Although I never longed for great wealth or a big house, I did enjoy being good at what I did and admired and cared about by my friends and co workers. I dearly miss Colorado, not because I had more wealth there than here, but because I so loved the beautiful outdoors and the hikes just about any where. I have reintegrated with my real family here. Athough it wasn’t easy at first, it’s now so warm, caring and rewarding AND I have my dogs!!!
    I’d love to post your comments on facebook with your permission.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Alida. I’m so glad you feel reintegrated with your real family here in Mexico now. Please feel free to share my blog posts with your friends on FB, if you wish.

  11. So good! There is no substitute for the hand-made life, the one youv’e made to measure for yourself. To this, you add the compassion you show in this writing … not everyone is capable of that. ¡BRAVO!

  12. Je partage chacun de tes mots et pensées et j’ai aussi souvent pensé à cette dame dans sa tour d’ivoire…son triste sourire et son regard en disent beaucoup…
    Je te souhaite de beaux et bons moments dans ton joli nid près des jacarandas. Bisous.

    1. Merci beaucoup, Isabel. So lovely to hear from you and to know you too think about “cette dame” in her unenviable tower. Thank you for your good wishes for my pretty nest. — Abrazos, BB xx

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