It was a big decision to go back home last week. There were many very important factors that I considered before purchasing my ticket including finances, timing, health, and our COLLECTIVE COMMITMENT to be abroad. And I am sure you could tell from the way I wrote that sentence that the really big one was the commitment. Ever since we took our first step on Spanish soil, Spider has wanted to visit home. In fact, Spider talked about visiting home BEFORE we got to Spain. He knew he would miss it. And even now, the kids test us by asking about going back at some point during the year; for Christmas or birthdays. And, we haven’t given in. Our answer is always, “a year abroad is just that, a year abroad.”
So, in the process of making the decision to book my ticket home, it came down to the stars aligning. I wanted to be there to celebrate my friend’s 50th birthday and to get to see my other friends that would be there for the party as well. I also wanted to be able to see my best friend from college. And I had hoped to see my mom. I called everyone, except the friends that would be at the 50th birthday party, to make sure they would be in the Los Angeles area, and once I discovered that everyone was home and available, I knew it was meant to be.
Meant to be, yes, but I was still nervous. And I have to be honest with you, I was going to miss my family. We have become super tight in this adventure. So much so that seeing my family and really being with everyone every single day had become quite comforting. I was going to miss that, even if only for a few days. So, going to the airport from Toledo, by myself, and flying solo across the Atlantic, seemed odd.
Me as the mystery guest
Best title at a party, ever.
When I landed in Los Angeles it was awesome, surreal and strange. Now, I know I have only been gone for a little under 3 months but the feeling of being home was weird. There were a few things that stood out in a big way, one of them being the fact that my ear was picking up on Spanish conversations. I could hear people speaking Spanish in lines, across a hall and on the other side of the room. That made me smile. Also, I became very hungry for familiar food. I immediately had this overwhelming desire to eat so much of every type of food. From chain, quick-service restaurants to certain types of food like sushi and Chinese.
In the end, I didn’t eat hardly anything. I enjoyed American coffee with every sip and usually by myself as I was up so damn early every morning. I walked and ran through the neighborhoods with my friends looking at the houses, guessing how much we thought they were worth and then looking them up on Zillow. Food became an after thought. I knew what a gift this was to be back in the US. To have this time with my friends was something that I knew was very special and I wasn’t going to waste it on special food or sleeping. Although, now as I type this, I have a real hankering for some Mu Shu Chicken.
Will Never Forget
Her look of surprise!
But while I was having fun, I kept saying to everyone that I felt like I was cheating on my family. Like I said in the beginning of this blog, we had told them we weren’t going back to the USA unless it was for a family emergency or work (which Erik will return for a few times throughout our year) and even with work, it would have to be very, very important. So, the fact that I was in the US made me feel a little guilty. Do you understand? I tried not to let myself “go there” with that emotion but I was reminded of it every time I face-timed the kids. The look on Spider’s face a cross between “I am so jealous” and “I can’t believe you lied to me”! Not really, of course, but that’s the way my conscious interpreted it!
I had a few people comment on my stories about how emotional I got when saying good-bye to my friends, yet again. There were a few who know what I was feeling. A few who had lived abroad for a while and understood how hard it was to come back because you knew you would leave again. I appreciated those comments. And the emotions of that moment for me were interesting because I was very aware that I wasn’t sad to go back, the tears were flowing rather because I was so grateful for my time there, with them. And me recognizing that was a good thing.
I knew this year would be a year of growth. Believe me I knew that and am living that reality every day but the magnitude of my 3 days in LA was nothing I expected. I knew the surprise would be amazing. I knew there would be screaming and tears and maybe someone calling me a liar while pointing at my face! But I didn’t realize the amount of love, pure honest deep love, I would feel, receive and give to those that I saw and how much I would thrive from those moments. All I have to do is think of a snapshot from those 3 days and I feel how special those days were, again.
And a little Happy
On my shirt, which I grabbed from Target:)
When I arrived back in Spain, the kids were into their normal groove. They were not, in fact, jealous of my trip back home but were quite excited about the things I had brought from home. Believe it or not, I borrowed a bag and packed it full of stuff that we wanted, missed, was less expensive at home or couldn’t find in Spain. Here is that stuff:
1. Annie’s Mac-n-Cheese
2. Peanut Butter
4. Vitamin C
5. Maple syrup (yes the giant one from Whole Foods)
6. Pancake mix
7. Maybelline Great lash mascara
8. Target swim suits
9. Taco seasoning
Amazing how a little Mac-n-Cheese from a box can make you feel right at home.
As of right now, that “surprise trip” was my only trip back. I don’t have any plans to go home again before next year. Thinking back on my dilemma of whether or not to click the “purchase” button for my airline ticket I can now say that I am so glad I went and was there for those special moments with so many of my friends. Distance is just plane ride; remaining close to someone is about being there with an ear, your open heart and a little Face-Time audio.
Thank you for reading,
Summer in Spain