Even though we've left, I think of you, I see you and you make me happy
We left our life in Spain on July 16th. It was a big deal to say goodbye. We honestly felt like we had just started to fully belong. And, that final two months of connection is why we will always go back. When I was planning this year, I didn’t know whether we should go straight back from Spain to our life in the Park City or whether we should put a little distance between the two lives. I thought maybe it would make our departure and our entry easier. I had no idea what I was doing and I am almost back home so I can tell you then, if I think I got it right. But I did worry that when we left our life abroad and moved on to another country and another continent that we just might forget the life we had for 11 months in Spain. I can say with 8 more days of this adventure that we didn’t and we won’t. And what makes that so much easier for me to say with confidence is the fact that I wrote about some of my favorite things; little things, big things, funny things, dear things. I wrote about a few of them so that I would have these to jog our memories as we were making our way home. We don’t need the jogging, but it sure is fun. And here is what I wrote…
Life is less chaotic living in another country for a year without a hard core schedule. We, of course, know this is not “real life”. Both Erik and I did not have the grind of a full time job. (although Erik has been working a ton these last few months and got his broker’s license this year, but the grind has not been there.) We have not felt the rush of being overbooked for everything from hair appointments and business meetings to separate kid’s sports activities and airport runs.
And I think because the grind has not been in our lives, we have had real time to notice things. We have watched people, absorbed the visuals and taken it in a bit more. There are just a few of the things that I would consistently seek out because they always made me smile and I also, because I found them to be unique to Spain. And maybe even unique to the northern part of Spain. So here is a shout out, full of love and appreciation. These are pieces of our experience that we wish we could bottle up for everyone to enjoy.
All of you wearing your bikini
And I am talking about everyone from age mostly in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I see you, I love you and I appreciate your confidence. I know that Mindy Kaling just posted something about wearing a bikini with any body size and shape and I couldn’t agree more. The wonderful men and women of Spain do JUST THAT every single day. They seem to be fully aware of their connection to the sun and their need to walk on the beach with most of their skin exposed. It’s absolutely beautiful!
Your infectious and genuine joy of eating ice cream
It was a favorite past time of mine; watching Spaniards eat their ice cream. It is a treasure for a family of parents, grandparents, kids and grandkids to all get the same intense satisfaction out of eating an ice cream cone. And maybe that was it, they were eating it from a cone! I loved seeing both a grandma and her little grandkid licking their cones, in a hurry and with their whole hearts before they melted. I also really appreciated that ice cream eating, in Spain, has a season. It doesn’t happen until it gets warm. Our ice cream shop below our apartment shut down from November until April.
You sweet naked babies.
Europe is wonderful for it’s freedom in the swimwear department and I love that. I especially love all the little ones that just run around full-monty taking it all in! That is pure joy and appreciation for the summer time in my book. Sand everywhere!
Those beautiful older women with bright colored hair.
I don’t know what this is all about but I respect it. And it is clearly a thing. I love them with my whole heart. I have seen royal blue, bright green, bright red, purple, pink and, of course, orange. I have tried to ask a few people about the trend and have yet to really get a clear answer. I have resolved to believe they are just ready and wanting to make a statement. And it is working. I would never have the guts to do it but these 70-somethings are giving pop hair a whole new image!
The brilliant idea of joint birthday parties.
When we first arrived here in Spain this wonderful family who speaks English, invited Spider to a birthday party. They told me, “We do it differently over here. You just pay a certain amount (around 5 euro per birthday kid) for the kid’s presents and for the party itself. They do joint birthday parties. It was generally organized by the month. So, all of the September birthday’s had a party together and if there were 4 kids with a birthday in September, you paid 20 euro. I found this to be brilliant! The money would be pooled together for a gift or two that the kid’s really want! I like this for two reasons. One, the kid’s don’t get a ridiculous amount of toys and the parents don’t have to break the bank for the party! It comes down to having fun and enjoying it.
Sunday soccer games.
Futbol is a bit like church over here for many. And every Sunday, I could always count on hearing these awesome groups of men (and occasionally a few women) yelling and laughing from the beach. Everyone plays, but most play soccer. And they play this sport with incredible intensity and passion. I love their nearly perfectly straight lines on the beach forming their pitch and I respect their knowledge of the tides (usually always playing at exactly low tide) They have a tremendous number of masters groups here beyond soccer, including but not limited to, padel, tennis, salvamento, swimming, soccer, hand ball…and I am sure a ton more. You are never too young to be competitive, talk and yell with your hands and enjoy a cortado or vino afterwards!
Taking their time.
I love the way they stroll. The way they walk, for the most part, without an agenda except to enjoy the one next to them, enjoy their presence and assistance and to enjoy the scenery. I love the way they help one another with their stroll. I can’t tell you how many younger people I saw helping their grandparents. They would walk slowly, holding their arm or offering an arm for steady reassurance. It was sweetness to the core.
Their love of their language.
We were talking about it even more when we were in Amsterdam how much we appreciated all of our neighbors in Spain having the patience to speak with us in Spanish. It helped us so very much and, of course, made it much more challenging, in a good way. But listening to us struggle through our sentences was not easy and for that we are so grateful for them not giving up on us and for loving their language so much that they wanted to speak Spanish over English. Erik and I have traveled a ton and there are many countries that prefer to speak English even if you start the conversation in their native tongue. We found that Spaniards are thrilled to take longer with the conversation so that you speak the language they love.
Grandpas and their grandbabies.
At every turn, and I am not exaggerating, we saw grandparents with their grandkids. Especially once it turned back into summertime. But what got me to the core of my heart was to see a grandpa pushing a stroller or holding a toddler’s hand. It happened all the time and I would pause and wonder if they both really knew how lucky they were, to have that kind of time together. For the baby or toddler, maybe not quite yet but the grandpa, I sure bet he gets it.
The way they make you work for it is worth it.
We had heard that “northerners” of Spain were a bit more closed off and that didn’t scare us in the slightest. I didn’t mind having to really work at becoming friends with total strangers that I pass by on the beach. I kind of appreciate the dedication that they want you to put into it before they will completely let down their guard and smile back at you. But when they finally do, it is like they have just squeezed you so very tight and that tiny exchange means so much. That, that is why it is, so very much, worth it!
We are in the “home stretch” of our year. We are itching to see our dogs. We are anxious to see our friends. We are grateful to all of those that have helped us along the way and at home so that we could pull this off. Life truly is magical when you put yourself out there and do something that is uncomfortable and scary. This year was worth it at every stop. This is not my last blog but I felt the need to write that out a bit at the end of this Spain appreciation one. Os echamos de menos Santander y nuestros amigos. Nos vemos pronto! La vida siempre esta volando!