Preparing For The Talk

•January 21, 2019 • Leave a Comment

In just over three weeks, I will have lived in Spain for three years.  I find it incredibly hard to believe that three years have passed since I said good-bye to all I knew and loved in the United States so that I could start a new life with my wife in Spain.  Originally, I thought I would be moving back home to the United States sometime between three and five years after I came here.  While I am only just now entering that threshold, I am anxious to move back to the United States.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel my wife is on the same page as me.  We had talked about living all over the place, not just in Spain, but my hope was always to find our way back to the U.S.  Before I ever packed my bags, my wife told me she would live anywhere with me, as long as we were happy.  I worry she is going back on that statement, or at the very least is having fears about moving to the U.S.

We only ever spoke of moving to the United States once since I have been here, and it was an outright “no” from my wife.  I realize now it was much too soon to suggest that, but we had been going through such a hard time and were under so much stress, I thought maybe it was the necessary solution.  I understand now why she said no and I understand why it wasn’t the right option at the time.

My wife really only has two people she is connected to here in Spain; her mother and her father.  For them, my daughter is their only grandchild.  My wife’s niece is trying to have a baby, which would make my father in law a great grandfather, but that is still a ways off and my wife is always concerned for her father’s health.  He is 76 years old and while no one wants to say it, he may not get to see a great grandchild and my daughter my be his last chance.  For that, I understand why my wife is hesitant to leave Spain.  I try to be understanding, however my family still has not had the chance to meet my daughter.  Yes, my mother and brother did see my daughter when she was one month old, but that’s all.  My other siblings and friends have not had the chance to see her in person and she is growing up so fast I am afraid they are going to miss the opportunity to see her as a baby.  If we were to move to the U.S., her parents would always be welcome to come stay with us, and while I know how much of  journey that is, it would be the same journey my family would be expected to make to come visit me in Spain.

My mother has told me to be patient and not to say anything that would upset my wife, but after giving it some thought, I have decided that I need to have a talk with my wife about making a plan to move to the U.S.  Right now, we are working on a plan that would bring us closer to her parents and would allow us to make money without the hassle of commuting to Madrid (or any other big city).  If we can move closer to her parents and my wife can find work, we want to save a little money so that we can open a coffee house.  If all falls into place, I would be happy with that option, but what I have decided is that if by the end of May of this year we have not moved, or at least settled on moving, I am going to talk to my wife about starting the process of moving to the U.S.  In all actuality, there isn’t a whole lot involved, but it’s going to mean some sacrificing on our part and making sure we follow all the proper procedures in getting my wife the appropriate VISA.  I don’t believe it’s terribly complicated but there are steps we need to follow and decisions to be made.  My hope is that once the plan is put into action, it will take between six months and a year to actually get to the U.S.

I am planning on making my arguments in May, but I need to start putting my thoughts in order now if I am going to make a reasonable argument.  I want her to be convinced that this is for the best and it will benefit the three of us, and that I am not doing it to be selfish.  Like I said, if we can get our original plan to work out, I’ll be fine.  That’s why I am giving it until the end of May.  I feel if by then we are not on our way, we need to change course.

I know we will have a huge support network in the U.S. and that’s something I need to convince her of.  Not only my family, but my friends are eager to see us come home and if we go forward with our plans of opening a coffee house in the U.S., I know of quite a few people who can help us get things going.  I dream about running a business back home and I get so frustrated when I am stuck here in the house all day accomplishing nothing.  I hate feeling useless and I am certain I wouldn’t feel that way running my own business.

It scares me to think of the future sometimes.  I worry I will never find work and that things will fall apart, but then I tell myself that we can open our own place and we can be successful.  I know businesses fail, but I truly feel I can succeed with this, but I need to find my way back home first.

With all this free time, I should really put together my thoughts.  I’ll get to work on it, as like I said, come the end of May, it will be time to talk.  I’ll keep you all updated.  Until next time…

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Is This Really Who I Am?

•January 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I’m finding it a little hard to believe I am going to hit 38 this year.  It seems like just yesterday I sat down at my hand-me-down kitchen table in my first, and only, apartment to start this little blog of my life.  So much and yet so little has changed over these nearly eight years and I honestly don’t know where I am going from here.  I was certainly a different person when I wrote that first entry.  Well, let me clarify that a little.  I haven’t really changed all that much.  I am still a testy, sarcastic, pessimistic with hopes of optimism, somewhat difficult to get long with person with a dry sense of humor and an affinity for coming of age contemporary novels.  I still hold out hope that someday I will write the next great novel and on occasion I still dream of achieving fame and fortune.  Certain Dave Matthews songs still choke me up and hearing a good old fashioned Bronx cheer still gives me goosebumps.  All that being said, I am in no way the same person I was when I set out on this journey.  The paths I have taken could no way have been foreseen by me or anyone else I knew at the time.  I’m no longer the tight ass McDonald’s manager who sacrificed his soul to please his boss, nor am I the scared little boy who wouldn’t dare move away to college for fear of losing the life he so desperately needed to hold onto after high school.  OK, that’s going a ways back.  The point is, no one could have predicted the roads I would take and if you told my best friend in 2011 that in 2019 I would be married, living in Spain, and the father to a beautiful two year old girl he probably would have asked if you were talking about the same person.  I suppose the honest answer to that would have been no.  I’m not the same person, or at least I have not traveled the paths my friends and family had picked out for me.  I was the loner of the family, always preferring to be alone rather than among the crowds.  My friends were a tight knit bunch and while I may not have had the most friends, I had the best friends.  I wasn’t always easy to get long with, but I have done my best to rectify that and I think I have loosened up a bit over the years.  No one saw the move to Spain coming, not even me, and ending up here has been the strangest journey I have yet to take.  I still hold out hopes that my journey will come full circle and bring me back to the US someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, but I have to be patient.

I sometimes can’t believe I am where I am and that I still have so much left to do.  My daughter is only two and I fully expect to be a part of every major event in her life.  The thought of her growing into a teenager, an adult, a mature woman freaks me out a little bit.  Hell, I may even get to be a grandparent someday.  This life, as short as it may be, can sometimes feel pretty long.  By no means do I want it to pass any faster than it is, but I really can’t fathom that someday I will be in my sixties (fingers crossed).  My thirties have flown by, but at the same time, I still feel that I am a young person.  Watching my daughter grow gives me a glimmer of hope for my future, for our future.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be the person I see in my dreams.  Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  Maybe it’s better to head into the future not knowing what to expect.  I don’t really know.  The fact is, I don’t really know much of anything.  As much as I like making my lists and plans for the future, everything is really totally random.  It’s a little scary to think we’re really living without a safety net, but I’ve made it this far.  Maybe the best is yet to come.

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•November 27, 2018 • Enter your password to view comments.

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Changes Are Coming

•October 25, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a little too long since I’ve written here and despite my desire to always perfect my Spanish, I feel like maybe I should spend a little time here as my English speaking self.  It’s been another whirlwind year and I can’t believe we are already approaching November.  Honestly, I don’t know where to begin to catch you up on all that has been going on, but I suppose I’ll just ramble on for a while and soon all will be explained, or so I hope.

The Summer was, well, the Summer, as it has been the last two years I have lived in Spain.  Each day is identical to the one prior, it’s hot as all Hell, and no one leaves their house until eight or nine o’clock, which means for me and my wife and a little baby, we didn’t get out much.  June and July were a little rough, but we drudged through August and actually had the pleasure of travelling to Germany for a week.  I can honestly say I never expected to be able to say I spent a week in Germany, nor any other European country for that matter, in all my life, but we did it and I loved it.  Germany is nothing like Spain.  In fact, it’s much more like the U.S. than Spain is.  The people were friendly (I’m not saying Spanish people aren’t friendly, I’m just pointing out that the Germans I encountered were very nice.)  and despite not speaking a word of German, we got by pretty well.  (My wife speaks enough to get us through meals in restaurants and tourist spots.)  It is really a very beautiful country and where we stayed was like a picture out of a magazine.  It gave us time to forget about our troubles back in Spain for a few days and despite being a little rushed, it was quite a nice time.  I would never hesitate to return and I even have the desire to start learning the language, although it is a rather challenging language for English speakers to pick up.  Maybe I’ll give it a try.

On the topic of languages, I once again started practicing a little bit of Italian over the Summer, but after a few weeks, I became a bit lax in my studies.  It’s not that I don’t want to speak Italian.  In fact I really do want to speak several more languages, however my overwhelming desire to perfect my Spanish, added to the fact that I really struggle with certain aspects of Italian grammar left me unwilling to put in the time each morning to continue with it.  I must say, I actually had progressed quite a bit, and perhaps after the holidays I will give it another go.  I still have French, Portuguese, and German waiting in the wings.  It will all depend on what turns my life takes in the next few months.

We have talked about moving to Leon, a smaller part of Spain where my wife’s parents live.  It’s quieter than Madrid and quite a bit cleaner.  I like the idea of living a bit closer to my in-laws as they have been a great help to us whenever we needed it.  It’s not fair to ask them to make a four hour trip to see us anytime we are in trouble.  Sure, it can be stressful living so close to family, but I think the benefits outweigh the added stresses.  We have been searching for adequate housing and we recently found something that might actually be perfect, but we’ll have to make the trip there to see it.  That can become complicated as unfortunately my wife is currently recovering from a fractured foot and she is on crutches for the next several weeks.  Additionally, before we can make any move, we have to be sure that she has a stable job.  The job market in Spain is crazy and sometimes it is simple the luck of the draw if you can find work.  As we all know, I have been unemployed practically the entire time I have been living in Spain and finding work in Leon may be no easier than here in Madrid.  We are looking to cut our expenses drastically, which would allow us to go on living as we are living and possibly start a meager savings.  Ideally, after we make renovations to the house we choose and we save a little bit of cash, we would like to open our own coffee shop somewhere nearby.  It has always been a dream of mine to own my own coffee shop and when my wife told me that she too shared that dream, I was ecstatic, but it’s not something we can do spur of the moment.  A lot of planning will have to go into it, and when we first started discussing it, she and I had all kinds of great ideas.  Unfortunately, finding a house and a job have to come before the coffee shop, so plans have been put on hold while we research our other tasks.  Although I doubt we will become extremely wealthy running a coffee house, the idea that we can be our own bosses and still live a comfortable life is very appealing to me.

My wife has suggested that should we have success with our business here in Spain, she would like to open a location in the U.S.  Of course I loved this idea.  We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves with that idea, but I am all for it.

I have quite a few things I would like to do that could potentially provide additional income for us, but I have been struggling to get to work on it.  As I said, my wife is currently home on crutches, which puts my other hobbies aside for a bit, but I still hold onto the hopes of someday publishing a novel or collection of short stories.  I know being a published author is 1) very difficult to accomplish, and 2) not necessarily very profitable, but I have at least two strong ideas that I would like to someday get into novel form.  I tried my hand at novel writing a few years back and it was a humbling experience, but I think I have been licking my wounds long enough and it’s time to get back to it.  As I said I have at least two ideas for novels as well as some preliminary ideas for short story collections.  I have to keep telling myself that I have to live my life a little bit at the same time as being the person I have to be for my wife and daughter.  It’s not easy to balance the two, but I have to start trying.

It looks like I won’t be making it home to the U.S. again this year which is disappointing, but I am not going to let it get me down.  It’s hard not being able to see my friends and family whenever I want, but right now I am busy with family things here in Spain which have to take precedence.  I miss my family back home, but they understand.

I have to get going now, as I have to pick up my daughter from daycare, but hopefully I can find a little time to keep this blog updated before the title becomes Forty Years and Counting.  Thanks for reading and see you soon.

Trapped

•June 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Imagine being trapped inside yourself for a minute.  Imagine that in your mind, you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it, and yet you can’t find the way to get it out.  You stumble a bit and in the end, say nothing, leaving your well thought out speech buried in the depths of your consciousness.  I go through this each and every day.  Living in Spain, I struggle to express even the simplest of my thoughts and desires, simply because I lack the proper vocabulary to properly say what I want to say, or in the heat of the moment, my brain simply won’t produce the words I want to use.  It’s been frustrating to say the least to spend the last two years in a prison like silence, only expressing myself in my thoughts and rarely out loud.  Even the few English speaking people I have come across have only offered me the most minimal of conversations, leaving me begging to say more, yet with no one to hear me.  Sometimes I talk to myself in the car, just to remember the person I once was.  You see, it seems that after enough time in silence you begin to lose the person you are or once were.  In an effort to preserve who I am, I have slowly begun to let some of my previous personality slip out occasionally with my wife in English but she has no idea what I am saying, or at least does not necessarily get the context of what I mean.  One of the things I miss the most about my life in the United States was the conversations over a cup of coffee I used to have with my best friend.  Our chats were hardly monumental, as we just talked about the events of our day and such, but it was my chance to really release a lot of what I had inside.  Being unable to unwind, even when my wife comes home and asks me how my day went is one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced.  In my fears that I will never again set foot on American soil, I worry I will lose who I am entirely.  Of course I have said before that we all have personalities that we adapt to our different situations.  I speak differently to my best friend than how I would speak to my mother, for example, but the fact that I have been so stifled here in Spain I fear I will never truly have a personality of my own here in Spain.

Tonight we have two friends coming over for dinner and a drink and I always hold out hope that something like this will be an opportunity to talk a bit, practice my Spanish and let some of my thoughts and feelings out into the open.  I mentioned it briefly to my wife and she said I simply need to butt into the conversations when I can, but even that is a challenge for me.  I often have to try to translate the conversations in my head, and many times I only grasp a fraction of it, so to jump in would take a tremendous effort.  Often, by the time I get what is being said they have already moved on to something else.  I am going to really make an effort tonight to participate in the discussions, but I just don’t know how I will do,

Living here is like living in the Twilight Zone.  There are some things very much like the United States, but then suddenly I will come across something that seems very odd to me.  The obsession with food and eating at particular times will never make sense to me.  Sure, when I was younger we ate dinner more or less at the same time each night, but when living on my own, I ate when I was hungry.  Maybe it’s the fact I spent so much time at McDonald’s that I got used to having food at my disposal whenever I wanted, but here, it seems as if we approach two o’clock and haven’t settled on what we are going to eat, a small crisis develops.  I have always been the type to live by a certain schedule, but this whole food obsession is too much for me.  It frustrates me that you can only find the stores you like in the middle of big cities.  If you just want to go to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, you have to commute half an hour or more and it’s hardly relaxing.  My number one way to unwind was always to go sit and write at a Starbucks, but I am not about to drive half an hour take the metro for another twenty minutes, and then walk through hoards of people just so I can sit “in peace” for an hour.

We have been talking a lot about moving to Leon recently, and while I think it is a good idea, I would much rather be discussing moving to the United States.  I know that is something I can not ask of my wife right now, but I honestly feel things would be better for us there as opposed to in Spain.  Sure, there will be obstacles to overcome, that is inevitable, but I just feel I have so much more of a web of connections there as opposed to here and I could find a way to make a better life for us.  Here, I feel helpless.  My wife keeps telling me we need to save at least a little bit before we can make any changes, but I don’t know how we are going to do that when I am still without a job.  She has started talking about selling things off to help pay for things and that scares me.  She has talked about selling one of the cars and while I understand that would be a financial burden off our shoulders, I think we need to maintain two cars in order to get by.  I don’t know.  I have to do what she wants.  I sometimes wish I had never done this to her.  She deserves so much more.

Anyway, I’ll be on my way.  Hopefully things will get brighter soon.  Until then….

37

•April 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s my birthday today.  I knew it was coming up quickly, but I honestly almost forgot all about it.  My wife laughed when I told her that and she said no one forgets their birthday.  Again, it’s not that I forgot it, but I rarely know what the date is day to day so I didn’t realize how close it really was.  I can’t really decide if I want to talk about what’s going on in my day to day life or if I want to take some time to reflect on the fact that I am 37 years old.  I started this blog around the time I turned 30 and now here I am, seven years later and still not sure of what I want, who I am, or where I am going.  That sounds like I am going to reflect a little bit.

I remember my parents when they were in their 30’s.  In fact, this is more or less the age my father was when he up and left my family.  I’m thinking maybe I should avoid that subject.  I will say that now that I have a daughter of my own it’s hard to believe my father was a father for the first time when he was 23.  I’m having a hard enough time now.  I couldn’t imagine doing it at 23.  I love my daughter more than anything and to be able to say that at age 37 that I am married, have a daughter and live in Spain should make me very happy, but something just isn’t right.  I still feel like I just don’t fit in here.  Until this past weekend I hadn’t had a job in nearly a year and the one I just started is not going to make us rich.  We get by each month, but my wife is under a lot of pressure and I feel bad that I can’t do much to alleviate it.  I spend too much time in the house.  Now that the weather is nicer I would like to spend more time outdoors with my daughter, but during the day I am home alone and I pace about endlessly.

I came here to start a new life with my wife.  I knew it was not going to be easy, but I never thought it would be so hard to be away from my friends and family back in the United States. I try not to look back.  The past is the past and I know I have to keep moving forward, but I can’t help but ask myself sometimes, “What if…?”  I try to look forward and tell myself I will see my loved ones again soon, but I don’t know when and it scares me.  I hate that I only come here to write about the negative feelings I have.  I want to be happy and I want to have a happy blog.  This was always intended to chronicle the good things in my life and yet it seems like I only come here to complain and talk about my troubles.

The job I started this past weekend is only Saturday and Sunday right now, which is tough because it leaves my wife alone all day with my daughter, which I know is not easy.  It’s a simple job so the pay is not great but it should help us start to maybe save a little bit here and there.  I am hoping that if we are just patient things will get better for us  Supposedly there is still a manager job waiting for me when this friend of my father-in-law gets his cafe open, but I don’t know if that will make things better or worse.  If it were closer to home, it would be great, but if it is a full time position in the heart of Madrid, I will never see my wife or daughter and it may add more unnecessary stress to our lives.  I don’t know.  Working in a cafe will certainly help me learn the skills I would need to run my own business someday, which I still dream about, but I wonder if it will ever happen.  My wife says she wants to have a business and that would mean going to the United States, but I don’t think she is prepared for that yet.  I have always said I want my daughter to go to school in the U..S., which would mean moving in 2020 or 2021, but that is wishful thinking on my part.  My wife and I need to talk about it, but I know it is too soon to bring it up with her.

Going to the U.S. will take time and preparation, I know this, but I am certain life will be better for us there instead of here.  I know my wife loves Spain and I don’t want to take her away from her home, but I have been away from my home for over two years now and it may be at least two more before I can return.  I want us to at least try to have a life there.  I wish I could show her how life would be but until she sees it first hand it won’t matter.  The possibility exists that she and I are going to visit the U.S. in November and while I am still not convinced we are going, it may be an opportunity to really show her how much better things can be.  I’m not a fool.  I know things would not be perfect and we would have plenty of issue to deal with, but we would have the support of my friends and family, something we are really lacking here in Spain.  Yes, her parents have gone above and beyond what they could do to help us, but they still live four hours away and can’t assist us on a daily basis.  If we moved to the U.S., I would have my mother, my siblings, and many friends and acquaintances to help us with so many things.

In the U.S., I would be able to handle the issues that need to be dealt with and my wife could focus on caring for our daughter.  Here, I am useless.  I can’t communicate well enough to take charge of any situation and I don’t really understand how certain things work in this country.  Sometimes I feel useless here, but I know in the U.S. I would be more in control.  It’s amazing how much trouble the language barrier can create.

In any case, I’m going to try to have a nice day once my wife is home from work.  I’d like to take my daughter to the park and then my wife is making a special dinner for the two of us.  I’ll try to be happy, but it’s not an easy task.  We’ll talk soon.

I’m Not….

•February 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

So I have spent a lot of time when I post here talking about the things I want to do.  I am famous for making lists of all the things I hope to accomplish in a given time frame.  More often than not, these goals go unfulfilled as I let the world around me distract me from what I want to do.  That may be the case, or I may just be lazy, I’m not sure which.  In either case, today instead of talking about what I will do because it seems I rarely follow through on those commitments, I would prefer to talk about the things I won’t do.  That being said, let the non-list making begin.

Before I go too far, I just want to add a few minor details I suppose.  First of all, my intention today and everyday henceforth is to be more positive about my situation.  It is really no secret that I am not terribly happy living in Spain, but a lot of that has little or nothing to do with Spain, it just happens that’s where I am when my problems come and go.  And when I say problems, they may in fact be tangible things, but I have realized recently that really, my problems are all in my head, or at least that’s where I let them lie.  I have spent too much time allowing these irrational fears control my actions and more importantly my emotions.  As of today, I am saying “no more.”  Now, I have had moments like this before in my life, moments in which I felt as if I had hit rock bottom and the only thing left to do was climb back up.  I swore the last time this happened that I would not let it happen again, but somehow life has a not so funny way of knocking you on your ass time and time again.  Sure, I have been guilty of questioning why it seems my life has been singled out to be more difficult than others, but that’s not fair.  There are a lot of miserable people in this world and a lot of folks who have been dealt a bad hand.  Sure, I get knocked around quite a bit, but when I stop to dust myself off, I realize perhaps I don’t have it so bad and I just need to chug along and maybe, just maybe, things will get a little brighter in time.  So, what is it I’m not going to do?

I’m not going to wake up every morning with a negative attitude.  Too many days have come and gone with me dreading the dawn.  I’m not going to fear what the day may bring.  I am lucky to open my eyes every morning.  I am lucky to have a woman who loves me and a baby who smiles when she sees me.  I’m not going to deny the happiness that brings me.

I’m not going to let fear control me anymore.  What am I afraid of really?  I let social fears, shyness dictate where I go, who I talk to, and how I live my life.  I’m not living my life, I’m letting it pass me by.  I’m not going to waste anymore time.  Yes, due to circumstances, I am home alone quite a bit.  I’m not going to sit here in bitter silence anymore.  I’m not going to complain I am trapped.  I am here because right now I have to be, but that does not mean I can not be productive or do the tings I want to do.  I have goals and things I want to accomplish.  I’m not going to let procrastination and self doubt prevent me from being who I want to be.  I’m not going to shy away from a challenge anymore.  All this time, waiting to start a job, I have been afraid, afraid I will not do a good job, afraid I will not be able to communicate with the employees or the customers, afraid that my anxiety will prevent me from taking the train everyday.  I’m not going to let those thoughts rule me any longer.  I don’t know where it came from or why it lives in me, but I will conquer my fears and not allow anything to stop me from living.  Yes, I want to go home, and yes I want to see my family and friends, but I’m not going to let my homesickness keep me from enjoying the time I have with my wife and daughter.  I’m not going to let my little girl grow up with a miserable father.

I’m not going to be negative about my situation anymore.  I am here because I chose to be here.  No one made the decision for me.  I came here with the hopes that I could make a better life for my wife and me.  Yes, it has been difficult, and in those difficult times I have questioned if I made the right choice, but when I think about what our lives would be like if I had not had the courage to come here, well it tears me apart.  I can’t imagine a day without my wife and daughter and to think I made the wrong choice is a terrible thought to have.  I’m not going to regret my choices.  We all have to make choices and we all have to accept the consequences that come with those choices.  Yes, I gave up a lot to be here, but I have gained a lot as well.  Today may not be perfect, but we’re getting there.  That being said, I will neither dwell on the past nor fear the future.  What’s done is done and I am here because of that.  Maybe my decisions were not always the wisest, but I would not change anything I have done.  It made me who I am.  I think often about the future, but I need to stop daydreaming about the life I want and start making it happen.  I have to live in the moment.  Instead of dreaming about being a published author, I need to get back to writing. *Kind of why I am here today*  If I want to speak better Spanish, I need to talk to people, not think about who I may talk to tomorrow.  I want to move back to the United States.  Well, instead of imagining the flight home, I need to plan how we’re going to get there.

One more thing I am not going to do.  I’m not going to fix everything in one day.  I’m not going to wake up tomorrow with the perfect life.  I have to live day by day by day and do the things I have to do that day to make things better.  Step by step, little by little, I can do this.  I just need to focus.  I’m not going to give up.