Unbelievably, it has been six months since we set off on our little adventure. Moreover, a one-year adventure has now turned into at least 18 months and I will not be surprised if it morphs into a two-year life altering session.
I have experienced many interesting places, some mesmerizing, some reminding me of home. I have spent time Greece, Holland (of course), driven across the continent three times, was stuck in London for the ash cloud airspace shut down, Barcelona and of course have put on many miles in the our area around Calpe. Additionally, I have also been able to spend quality occasions with my two children, which is the reason we are doing this in the first place.
However, as fabulous as that all sounds, I find myself still shaking off the longing for my own ‘stuff’. Some of my struggles such as missing friends, family, and learning to cook again rear their ugly heads more than I care to admit. Filling my days can be a challenge, especially when Wayne is not here with me. However, the days that are brilliant more than make up for the life review that greats me every morning.
I have regrets and doubts, just like I did before we left, the things I mull about now are just different, that’s all. I still have anxiety over certain things but they too have changed focus. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know we are doing the right thing but that does not mean I cannot question and review every now and then. All I have to do is check the weather back home and then look out my window here in Spain and it turns everything around in a moment.
One of the regrets I have is taking our North American vehicle over here with us. The paperwork, the delays, the hoops to jump through and the frustration simply is not worth the other conveniences we were expecting, such as saving money and buying a vehicle with foreign language contracts. Not to mention the size of it. I never thought of my car as a large vehicle; it is on a Camry base, considered mid-size back home. Here, it is a monster car and in the oldest parts of Spain and Europe, I deem it gigantic. For highway traveling, it is perfect, that is until you get to your destination and try to park the goofy thing. Our other options were not that great and expensive, so in the end, I think it will work out that we made the correct decision.
As much as I am enjoying the freedom of not be responsible for anything other than my 20 pairs of socks that I brought over (yes, I brought 20 pairs of socks and only 7 pairs of underwear, that’s the ‘what the hell was I thinking’ if I ever heard one). I really miss my favourite things such as books, my much-loved housecoat or my pillow. Mostly, it is the touchstones of my life I long for when those moments of doubt creep into my thinking. Usually it’s when I am having my first coffee and thinking about my favourite coffee mug packed away in some box in storage.
I yearn to speak in my home language, Canadian with another Canadian. (Yes, Canadian is a language.) Somehow talking on the phone is not the same. What I would not do to order a coffee, (with cream!) complain about the weather and sit down for a face-to-face chitchat with another Canadian. Sorry my British and American friends, even though you speak English, and I enjoy and appreciate you, there is something about chatting in your home slang that makes a conversation worth the attempt. Funny, I have no inclination to learn Spanish at all, even at the encouragement of my husband. I think it has more to do with looking back rather than forward that is feeding the resistance.
Now that I know we will be here at least another year, why not buy a new favourite housecoat? (Although it will not be the one Spooky snuggled up in with me.) Why not buy a new favourite coffee mug? (Although it will not be the 26-year-old matching mug I bought for a very special friend and I back in 1984.) Why not make new friends? (I have been resisting putting in the investment of making new friends when I thought we would only be here a few months.)
Familiarity is what I am without a doubt craving. A friendly face, a prairie storm, hockey and Costco. The only solution to my longing is to distract myself, change my thinking and behaviours but I’m finding that near impossible. My day to day has not changed that much from when I was living back home. I wake up worrying about the kids, check my email, surf Facebook and then plan my day. Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and bills still need attention. I try to get to the beach for a walk every day. (Okay, that has changed.) Maybe I am trying to hard to hang on to a little bit of my familiarity or maybe we are just creatures of habit. I still can’t answer that one but I tend to find my rhythms soothing to me, somehow ensuring I have not forgotten who I am or where I came from.
Its easier said than done to constantly live facing forward in the moment and not long for the past when your moments are so brand new, all the time. New surroundings, new climate, new food, new language, new routines. Nevertheless, is not every moment brand-new? Anything can change in a moment. A phone call can send you in a different direction. An accident could happen in a split second. Heaven forbid if you lost everything to a fire or a flood. Every moment is always brand new, whether you are in your daily routine, traveling or longing for people and things you miss.
Doubts and regrets, I think no matter where you are in life you will always carry with you, reflective of the life situation you currently inhabit. Touchstones and familiarity reminds us of who we are and how far we have come. Learning to live in the moment certainly helps. Counting blessings and being grateful definitely helps. As Helen Keller said so eloquently, “Keep your face to the sun and you won’t see the shadows.” – Good advice that’s easy to take here in all my moments in sunny Spain.