On re-entry and pencil skirts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been back in Spain for four days. It’s kinda like wearing a pencil skirt after a few weeks of yoga pants. You know it looks better on you, and it’s a good fit. But unlike yoga pants, it takes some effort.

And when you’re jet lagged, and at loose ends, sometimes you forget that anything worth doing takes some work.

America, in so many ways, is so easy. I can chit-chat with anybody, at any time, in my native tongue. Shopkeepers, mothers at the spray park, neighbors, and postmen. There is an anonymity in being a native speaker in a large city, an immediate sense of belonging and entitlement.

Which disappears in an instant here.

As I feared, my Spanish is evasive after three week’s hibernation. Verbs and nouns scamper away. I’m aware of my impairment, all the more because I know that I did better, and can do better still. Phantom pains, these lost syllables. I mourn the opportunities lost.

I return to a city transformed. In my absence, my sleepy beach town has become vacationville. Germans speak to me in halted Spanish in the grocery store (joke’s on them). Parking is simply not an option. The beaches, once deserted, are mountains and valleys of umbrellas. My husband finishes his morning runs around 7, and watches the tourists spill out of the bars at the same hour.

And also? It’s sweltering, sweat-through-your-sheets, drink-water-at-all-times hot.

Once again, I’m learning how to live Spanish. I’m learning again how to find those words, and make those connections. And every day is easier, more like returning home.

Today, we woke up at 11 AM. We walked to the shore, had snowcones, and bought boogie boards. We stopped by my landlord’s shop, and the boys kissed him hello. We spent the afternoon in a friend’s pool, and had pulpo with homemade vinegar at a bar for dinner.

And on days like this, I ask you: how could I live anywhere else? Why would I?

Yes, I’m wearing a pencil skirt. And yes, I yearn for those yoga pants.

But the skirt looks good on me. It’s a fantastic fit. It’s worth it.

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