Just How it Is.

People ask, “Are things as good for you in Spain as they appear on the computer?”

Meaning: Are you really that happy?

Well, yes. And no.

I am, by nature, a person who seeks connection.  I like to chit-chat with the people that flit in and outof my day.

But here’s my reality: I spend four hours a day in the company of Americans. I drop off my oldest at his school, and my youngest at his preschool. I then go to the gym (a necessity for my mental health), take my Spanish class, and complete the errands one completes in a three hour window.

And it’s fine. Occasionally, I break things up by going to the Gypsy Market or grabbing a cafe with somebody.  But, really? I’m mostly by myself.

Then, I pick up Joel, and on good days, we go on adventures—to the beach, or a fruit stand, or a playground. On other days, we go to the house. I hang up clothing on the clothesline, and listen to the rooster crow and the mopeds screech down the roadways. And there I am, in the middle of Spain, having a fairly mundane afternoon.

Do I get lonely? Of course. Sometimes, it’s exhausting. I don’t understand numbers very well….the sevens and the sixes sound the same to me, and I admit that I sometimes just swipe my card and buy carrots flown from Germany to the base grocery, instead of buying fresh, local carrots from the vegetable stand.

Why? Because sometimes, it’s  just hard. I bought some flowers from the Gypsy Market last week. I didn’t understand how much the flowers cost, and I’m almost sure the lady overcharged me, taking advantage of my spotty Spanish. And you know what? It’s my own damn fault.

The right answer is that I keep trying, and eventually, I’ll know my numbers. But the real answer is that sometimes, I close the door, and escape.

So, am I happy here? Extraordinarily so. The weather is beautiful, and we are seeing things we would never see. Our dream landlords took us out to dinner, and then we went to a bar to hear traditional Zambombas (Christmas drums and singing). We were the only Americans in the bar, I’m guessing, and we felt so honored to be included in another world.

We ride our bikes, sitting at tables on the beach in December. Our children speak smigens of Spanish to each other.  We hold hands, and just know how right this is.

But….I miss my friends, and big-ass cups of brewed coffee, and sometimes, I am lonely.

That’ s just how it is.



4 thoughts on “Just How it Is.

  1. This is great. We often get asked from friends back home how Europe is and I always stumble on what to say – we haven’t been here long enough for me to get my go-to answer. Some days its wonderful – I mean, we’re living in Europe! ..totally out (while at the same time IN) our element and the experiences are amazing. But, there are other days, when I’m just waiting for my husband to come home because it’s freaking freezing outside! (Belgium JUST started its four month frigid winter) But, at the end of the day, we’re here and we’re together. Thanks for the inspiration….it’s very well put!

  2. When I read your column today, I thought that any missionary anywhere in the world would relate to it. It’s quite possible to be of two minds–er, two hearts–emotionally. You can love another culture passionately and still miss being in your own. You can love the unique and exciting things around you and still weep sometimes over the lack of a pal you can call up to go shopping. When I used to spend a couple of weeks in mainland China working with teachers, I’d stop at the Burger King in the Beijing Airport when I was on my way home, just to eat something totally familiar, even though, while there, I enjoyed having steamed pumpkin and hot tea for breakfast. Evenly more oddly, I found that I could perfectly understand with my mind why people in distant places did certain things and still get sort of peeved with them when they happen. Material on the stages of cross-cultural adjustment is widely available on-line–I’m sure Paul’s agency will have given some of it to you–and worth considering. Anyway, excellent blog today. Lots of people will know exactly what you mean, certainly including me!

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