In exactly five months our visa’s will expire and we will need to leave Spain as well as the entire Schengen area. And according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary it certainly has been an adventure: 1) An exciting or dangerous experience. 2) An exciting or remarkable experience. 3) An enterprise involving financial risk. The last definition caught me a little off guard when it popped up, but it is certainly true nonetheless. Being here has been an adventure and a challenge and awe-inspiring. I have loved seeing the history – the Roman aqueduct, castle ruins, the tomb of Christopher Columbus, the tombs of Queen Isabel and Ferdinand, restored castles, old tapestries, Islamic palaces, Catholic Cathedrals, roman mosaics, and the cities that have lived on for so many, many more years than anything we have in the U.S. I haven’t loved the isolation, frustration and loneliness that comes from not speaking the language and having no where to go during the day. I am awe-inspired when someone speaks Spanish to October or Scarlett and she responds back! It’s amazing to me the fortitude of my kids. Day after day I have dropped them off to spend five hours a day immersed with people that speak very little English (if any) and in a culture that was completely foreign to them only four months ago (both the Spanish culture and the public school culture). That part really is amazing.
We had thoughts that when our Visa’s were up we would travel around Europe. Ireland was at the top of the list. But as the time approaches and our homesickness grows and our wallets shrink, I think we will find ourselves on a jet plane sooner than we had anticipated. We’ve started looking ahead to what we want our lives to look like when we return. Almost everything is up in the air. Jeff will return to his job but I won’t be returning to mine. And I’ll need a new one. Our condo is rented until the end of November so we won’t be returning there either. We have yet to decide whether the girls will continue to be homeschooled or attend a Spanish-immersion public school or a regular neighborhood school. The opportunities are both exciting to imagine and overwhelming to consider all at the same time.
I’ve spent a lot time thinking about what I want when I return. Here it is: 1) To get involved. 2) Create connections and foster relationships. 3)To be physically active. In striving to not be over-run with the busyness that can come with a job, school, working opposite schedules as your spouse, and kid activities I failed to create and foster a deeper connection with people, my community and organizations. Usually in the way of remaining on the peripheral at school or girl scouts, not reaching out to meet for a drink or not making advance plans – so that I could be free to enjoy where ever the day took us. And I appreciated not feeling overwhelmed by places to be or things to do. I rarely scheduled more than one activity in a weekend. I liked being able to head to the beach or the creek or the forest or just reading by the fire or an impromptu get together with friends, free from other commitments. Yet at the same time, I have missed out on the sense of community that I long for. That I realize I need and I want. So in the new year, I hope to meet with friends more often, reconnect with old friends, create a support system among other friends raising their family far from family, go on more dates with my husband, become more active with the girl scouts, host parties, volunteer in the community I end up living in, join a fitness or sport group/class, enjoy more hikes in our area, learn with my family and create lasting traditions outside my family.