No te digo adios;
Te doy las gracias,
Porque hoy soy mucho mejor persona
Que el dia en que te conoci.
I’m already crying before I write this blog post, which is telling of why I’ve procrastinated so long to write it. I knew it would force me to feel some pretty raw emotions about leaving Spain, our home for the past two years. Already it feels like a dream - an incredible adventure story filled with fascinating characters, castles, seas, mountains, music, costumes, celebrations, and lots of sunshine - then I open up my photo library and see my family’s faces as the protagonists in these scenes. We lived this story and now that we’re back in Minnesota, it’s hard to believe it all really happened.
After putting so much on the line to make this journey a reality, it was tough to swallow the reality that we would be moving back home - whatever “home” means. Is it where you came from? Is it where you currently own a home? Is it the place where keep all of your stuff? This term often confused our kids. “Mom, are you talking about home here in Spain, or our house in Minneapolis, or the US?” After living with few personal possessions in a rented apartment for the past two years, “home”, to me, has become a feeling rather than a place. The comfort and love I feel when I’m with my family, regardless of where we physically are located is “home”. And I’ve observed that it is an especially profound sense of love, absent of the stability and predictability that a house, belongings, and extended family and friends provide. From the start, we have faced together the whole gamut of emotions that come with uncertainty, and it has made us better as individuals, and a more cohesive family unit.
Uprooting our lives in Minneapolis and moving to Spain was hard but like they say, the harder the task, the greater the reward and all of our work paid off tenfold. We arrived in Spain with open minds, open hearts, and open eyes. We took it all in. We fell in love. With the people. With the food. With the countryside. With the culture. With the sea. With the sunshine. It was all more fulfilling than I could have hoped for, which is why, when it came time to say goodbye it was all more painful than I could have expected. Now, I would have to face all of the things I’d realized I didn’t like about the US. I would have to leave behind a lot of fantastic friends that I had gotten close to. My fun playing padel tennis would come to an end. We would be moving into my in-law’s house. I wouldn’t have a job, a car, nor my own space.
We’ve been back now for a couple months and I’m still processing all of this change. While I can’t discount how wonderful it is to reconnect with family and friends, I’ve realized that coming back was much harder than leaving -- logistically and emotionally.
Logistically, returning to the US was easier, although not without its complexities. All we brought to Spain was eight suitcases and a bike, therefore, in a couple years we had accumulated clothes, bikes, toys, kitchen appliances, etc. Selling online is my husband’s specialty and in the US we mastered purging all of our belongings between Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Facebook. In Spain, we figured we could do the same (as it’s way too expensive to ship things to the US). Whatever we wanted to bring back would have fit in the suitcase. This meant some difficult choices. (Especially since we’d be traveling for four weeks through Europe with these suitcases -- more on that later).
We posted the majority of what we wanted to sell on Milanuncios and Wallapop, two second-hand Spanish apps, but to our dismay, we hardly received any offers and those we did receive weren’t worth our time. It was interesting to learn how in Spain there really is no market for second-hand goods. It appears that if something has been used, even minimally, nobody wants it unless it’s free or “casi gratis”. In the end, or close to the end of our time there, we sold a few things on facebook to other foreigners and the rest we gave away to friends.
Our biggest loss of sleep was our car. Long story short- we practically gave it away to the British guy we bought it from (UGH!). But we were desperate to get at least SOME € in return since we’d need to buy cars when we got back to the States.
So while moving back was logistically challenging and it was hard to let go of a lot of our things, that paled in comparison to emotionally “letting go”. When you move half a world away from home, your friends become your family and it is really hard to say goodbye, not knowing what the future holds. I hated having to break the news to my friends, because I knew, or thought I knew, that most would be gravely disappointed. But more terrifying was, what if they weren’t? How good of friends were we? Would we stay in contact or was this a situational friendship? I lost sleep over these doubts and insecurities. In fact, two weeks before we were to move I got terribly sick and couldn’t get out of bed for a several days which is a rare occurrence for me. Whether I caught a bug, or emotional stress manifested into physical illness, I will never know. What was frustrating was I had to cancel kids’ playdates and plans to meet with friends. Repeating emotional “last time” get-togethers and goodbyes was exhausting.
I knew I had to get together with friends Angel and Marissa who were our family in Spain. They were people that I knew I could count on for help, trust to take my kids, and ask stupid cultural questions without being judged. True friends. So on a Friday, I was recovered enough to get out of bed and take them up on their invitation to one last happy hour in the Arenal (which for me was going to be non-alcoholic since my immune system was down). I told myself I could do this and needed to. Davin, the kids, and I showed up and it was just Angel, no Marissa. He ordered some beers, and we started chatting. He received a phone call, then all the sudden says, “Marissa is at another bar” so grab your beers and let’s go meet them. I should have known something was up because, in Spain, there is always time to finish a beer. Who takes a beer and leaves the bar? Well, we did. Davin went off to meet a guy about selling our car and Angel leads me down the promenade to Kandala, the bar where we were headed. Trying to keep up with the situation, I turn the corner to look into the bar, completely shocked at what I see. A huge crew of our friends -- Spanish, Expats, Padel, Cycling, and kid’s friends -- yell “Surprise!!!!!” I look around and see that along the ceiling of the bar is a long laundry line hung full of photos of me and my friends. There was handmade “padel” tennis ball dessert and padel-themed decorations. Somebody (whom I later discovered was my doubles partner) had done a LOT of work and planning to make this happen and I couldn't help but burst out in tears. I cried first because I was SO completely touched and felt so loved, and I cried more fiercely because I thought, “Oh my God, can I do this right now? Can I be the center of the party?” Well, I did and I will never forget how amazing that felt.
Our two years in Javea, changed me. More than anything it taught me that there really isn’t anything more important in life than the people with whom we surround ourselves and how we make them feel. I pray that I can find a clueless foreigner in Forest Lake and pay forward all of the love and support my Javea friends gave me. I have no idea what the future holds, but Javea (and Spain as whole) will forever have a piece of my heart. In Spain, they don’t say "Goodbye" but rather “Until later” and I like that.
Hasta luego Espana! Ha sido un verdadero placer!
Stay tuned for my next blog post about our last great adventures before we returned to the States! 4 countries in 4 weeks
What/Whom I'm missing most:
What/Whom I'm missing most:
|Routine hikes to the top of Cabo San Antonio|
|Playing Padel tennis with great people|
|Sepia lighting on our balcony during the sunset|
|Adventures with friends|
|Doing anything active with Marta|
|These kids playing together|
|Hikes with Marissa|
|Surfin and SUPing with my main squeeze|