My body is still adjusting to the time change, and I’ll find myself awake in the early hours of the morning, my mind on a static-filled radio station, filled with what-ifs and I-hopes, and the occasional holy-shit-what-have-I-dones.
But those thoughts only come in the secret hours, the still times when the rest of my family breathes deeply, and tosses in their respective slumbers. And sometimes, while they sleep, I come here to write.
My oldest says, “Spain is more like Maryland than I thought it would be.”
“Yes,” I say, “But you’re not in real Spain.”
We are presently living in temporary housing on the base, perfectly pleasant and oh-so-Mayberry. We trip over playgrounds. Oldest will walk to his school. We purchased a three ring binder for him, and promptly lost it. When we returned to the store the next day to buy another one, we found the original, sitting on a bench. Waiting for our return, over a day later.
On base, people speak English, and my hair dryer works when I plug it into the wall. They drive on the same side of the road here as they do in the States. There’s a gym, a Subway, several pools, even a café that serves Starbucks coffee. So yes, when my son calls it “Fake Spain,” he’s right.
It’s our halfway house before we really plunge in.
But yet, as I walk the aisles of the commissary, the radio lists the weather conditions in Norway. My yogurt is German, and my nectarines come from Italy.
Spanish, even in Fake Spain, is everywhere. I understand maybe five out of every thirty words, and the enormity of learning this language sometimes makes me want to drink gin from the cat dish.
(Every person in the world should spend some time in a country where he or she does not speak the language. Imagine the humility and empathy we would all share.)
So fake Spain has been an adjustment. But tomorrow? We’re going house-hunting in Real Spain.
Although the halfway house is pleasant and exactly what we need, it isn’t real life. That’s outside the gates, where the language is rapido y bonita, the homes are white-washed and tiled, and a foreign and wonderful land awaits us.