•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….



•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.

Can I Do It?

•January 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

In my last entry, I basically sat here and went off on a little tantrum over my dissatisfaction with my current situation.  I wrote more or less stream of thought and did little editing, hoping to get all of my feelings onto the page so maybe I could look it over and figure out just what the hell I am doing with my life.  As I write this, I have seven tabs open in Google Chrome and three of them are blogs of mine.  Actively, I write in three blogs, but if you count those I started in my heyday of language learning, I have at least seven active blogs.  I complain about not knowing what to do with my life, but I wonder if the answer has been sitting here in front of me all along and I was just too blind or naive to see it.  Look, it’s no secret that when I need to express myself, I do it in writing, and I would like to think I do it fairly well.  If you look at the topics of my blogs, it becomes plain to see that I also enjoy learning languages and offering my advice to others on how to learn languages, even if I am no expert.  It dawned on me this morning that if I am going to follow my advice and “do what I love,” I should be looking for opportunities to write and utilize my love of languages as a forum.  Now, if only it were that simple, I would already be established and making money, but as it is, I have spent too much time and too much energy thinking about it and not doing anything about it.  Today would be another prime example.  That being said, I think I have at least started the ball rolling, in my head at least.  I am hoping to develop my ideas and see where it takes me.

One of my greatest flaws is being a defeatist.  If something does not go my way, or something comes along and stands in my way I tend to think, “Oh well, that’s the end of that, let’s move on,” but really that’s not the way it should be.  Let me explain briefly.

I have been waiting on a job for over two months now.  It is a managerial position in a café, which on the surface is a great opportunity.  I have always dreamed of owning  my own coffee shop (more on that later) and this is an excellent way to not only learn the ropes of running a coffee business, but a huge chance to improve my Spanish speaking ability.  As much as this sounds like a golden ticket, I have reservations.  Why?  Well, because I am crazy, first of all, but also because it is going to take away from my time to study languages here at home.  Wait.  You say I am going crazy at home?  Yes, this is true, however, if given the chance to learn other languages and have an income, I would jump at the opportunity.  Here’s where the defeatist part comes in.

I have been sulking and avoiding studying other languages for the simple fact that looming in the distance is the fact I will have to start working and this is going to keep me out of the house for almost the entire day and when I come home it will be too late to spend time on learning Portuguese or Italian.  I started feeling dread about starting this job as it was going to suck out what little fun I had during the day.  Then I realized how stupid that is.  OK we all work jobs we don’t like at some point in our lives, or have schedules that keep us fro doing the things we love, but that does not mean it has to be permanent.  In my foolish mind, everything is permanent and nothing can be changed.  That’s ridiculous.  While yes, I need to get going on this job as I desperately need an income, there is no reason I can not work on finding some other type of employment that will allow me to do what it is I truly enjoy.  Maybe I will have to work for a few months or even a few years at this café, but so what?  It doesn’t mean I can’t find a way to work for what I enjoy.

Since being approached to publish my story with Fluent In Three Months, I can’t help but fantasize of working for their site and earning an income talking about and encouraging language learning.  I do believe learning multiple languages is a necessary skill in today’s society and I think it is important to encourage young people to become multi-lingual.  I don’t know exactly what kind of a job I could find with the website, but I am eager to ask.  I have to wait until they publish my story, which could be at any time, and then I need to see what kind of a reaction it gets.  I don’t know who will read my story and who will react, but I have this hope that I will at least start to make some connections in the language learning community and hopefully this will lead to something more.  Sure, I love writing here for my own benefit, but if I could share my thoughts with the world, that would be amazing.  I am not looking to get rich nor do I have any desire to be famous.  I would just like to spend my days doing something I like doing.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into the ideas I have had for language learning and how I would like to use it, but needless to say, I think I could really do a good job if given the right tools.  Right now, the few things that are holding me back are the resources I feel I need to do what I want to do.  Yeah, ambiguous, I know, but I don’t want to give too much away.

The other thing I keep floating through my thoughts is my coffee shop. As I said, it has always been a dream of mine to own my own place and I am hoping somehow, someway, I will find a way to open it.  I want it to be in the U.S. and I want to also use it as a venue to encourage language learning.  Again, I have quite a few ideas of how I would like to do this, but I don’t want to give it all away here just yet.

In any case, hopefully today is the start of something more.  Hopefully today is more than just another day.  Let’s see how it goes.



They Say “Do What You Love”

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been living in Spain for two years, floundering through my life, wasting day after day hoping to find my calling.  I have been unemployed the majority of my time here and I have not taken advantage of my opportunities here in Europe.  I am tired of passing each and every day wondering when something better is going to come along.  I am tired of being a loser.  I have not always done great things in my life, but I have always had high ambitions.  Sometimes it is too easy to settle for the first thing to come along, but I am learning that to be truly happy, to find what it is that is going to get you through life, you have to find what you love to do and simply do it.  I know, that’s easier said than done, but I can not go on living like this.  I can not go on passing each and every day alone in the house, fantasizing of a better life for me and my wife.  I need to find it and do it and I can not wait any longer.

It is supremely aggravating to not know how to get what I want.  I know what I want, or at least I have an idea, but it’s like I can not find the time to make it happen.  I know that’s ridiculous as lately I have all the time in the world, but somehow I manage to avoid finding my niche.  If you asked me what it is I enjoy, it’s languages.  I enjoy speaking Spanish primarily, but I also love the idea of learning more.  If only someone would pay me to learn.  I love learning in general, but if I had the chance to spend my days teaching others how to speak in a foreign language, I think I would be satisfied.  Looking back on my life, perhaps I should have gone to college to be a language teacher.  That would have been nice, but back then, I was so turned off by the educational system in our country I loathed the idea of being a teacher.  Now, I am sort of intrigued, but it’s a little late to go back to school to be a teacher.  I certainly can not ask my wife to be the sole income earner as I galavant off to night classes to get a degree.  I suppose that will be the one thing to come back and haunt me for the rest of my life.  That being said, I am not going to let a lack of a degree stop me.  I can’t, not anymore.  I can’t continue to sit here every day without a purpose.  If this coffee shop shop doesn’t start really soon I am going to be in another financial mess (as if I were not in one already) and I can not continue to ask my mother for assistance.  I need to find a source of income and I need to find it in a field I enjoy.  Is it possible here in Spain to find a job using languages daily?  Sure the simple answer is teach English to Spanish speakers, but I am not particularly good at that.  I work with one young girl and her father, but I don’t feel I am doing much as far as advancing their skills.  I would much rather work with English speakers who want to learn Spanish (or any other language for that matter) but I don’t know if I will find an opportunity like that here in Spain.  We all know I desperately want to return to the US, but sadly I can’t see that happening in under three or four years.  If I could find some way to do what I love here in Spain, I could certainly survive a few more years here, but I can’t have three or four more years like my first two here.

I want to ask for help, but I don’t know who to turn to.  Everyone has advice but few have legitimate solutions.  I suppose I have to do the work myself, but it’s going to take a little more effort than simply repeating to myself that I need a job.  I have thought of reaching out to various online communities to seek out some help, but even there I am not entirely sure where to turn.

I am still waiting to hear back from the Fluent in Three Months site about my potential blog post and I am hoping in the recesses of my mind that I may be able to at least ask for some sort of work through them.  I know it’s a long shot, but perhaps they could at least steer me in the right direction if they don’t have anything to offer me.  In my dreams, as I toss and turn at night, I see myself posting vlogs or tutorials about languages and that seems like something I would really enjoy doing, but I don’t know if there are any opportunities like that right now.  It would be amazing to get paid to talk to other people for a living.  Maybe I just need to be more assertive.  How much longer can I go on like this?  Not long, I know that.  I want to discuss it all with my wife, but she often only sees things from a very practical point of view.  We need money and there is no time to play around.  If one option doesn’t work out we move to the next.  She doesn’t want to hear about me wanting to move back to the US, not yet anyway, so I need to find a way to talk about things with her without making her feel like I  am pressuring her to move.  We’re not ready for that anyway.

In any case, I can’t spend my day complaining here.  I need to get going, or at least start seeking the answers.  Hopefully I will come across the solution sooner rather than later.  Until next time.

365 Things

•January 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Every year it seems I get sucked into the trap of following everyone else’s lead of making a list of New Year’s Resolutions.  I mean, there’s really nothing wrong with making resolutions, and what better time than the new year, but I started to feel it was better to always have goals and they can be made at any point throughout the year.  Why wait until New Year’s Day to start that new diet or sign up for that gym membership?  If you have a goal, start it as soon as you think of it so you can avoid putting it off another day.  That being said, I came up with an idea and I decided it would be my New Year’s Resolution, or at least my goal to carry out throughout the year.  Actually, given what it entails, it works out well as a New Year’s Resolution and if done properly, it will be hard to break.

I decided to keep it simple.  I am going to pick something each and every day that I am thankful for or that brings joy into my life.  Sure, it can be the typical crucial elements of my life, such as my family and friends, but I want it to be more than that.  I want it to be the little things that I have that maybe other less fortunate people would envy and maybe I take for granted.  Sure, number one on the list was my daughter, and certainly there are those out there who don’t have children of their own and would envy me for that, but today, for example I said that I was thankful for my zip up hoodie that I brought from the United States because it reminds me of home.  Some days I may put something more meaningful to me, other days I may decide to put those little items that I enjoy but perhaps could live without.  I think this is a good way to put a lot of things in perspective for me.

I don’t have to tell you, as you surely could see by some of my entries here, I sometimes have a tendency to complain about my life.  Despite the many good things, I often find my self dwelling on the bad.  The last two years in Spain have been the hardest two years of my life, but instead of complaining about the bad, I should take a moment to step back and look at the good.  I left a job that, although I enjoyed, was probably destroying me.  I took a chance of leaving my home and moved to Spain, got married, and watched my beautiful daughter be born.  I have seen sites I would have never seen otherwise, and I have the chance to see so much more.  Sure, there has been stress and sure I miss home, but this is home, at least for now, and home isn’t really so bad.

My wife and I have talked a lot about getting involved with sponsoring a less fortunate child.  Any time she sees an ad for a charity that supports children in need, she asks if I would be willing to get involved with one.  I think it’s a noble cause and I think it’s something wonderful to do if we can afford it, and as I make my list of things I am thankful for (spaghetti and meatballs) I realize I shouldn’t complain too much about the life I have.

I guess my point in all of this is too once again emphasize, even if only to myself, that life is what you make of it.  We’ll talk more soon.  Oh, and for the record, my list so far is as follows:

Jan. 1st: Chloe

Jan. 2nd: Veronica

Jan. 3rd: My zip up hoodie I brought from the U.S. because it reminds me off home.

I’m not going to update the list here everyday, but I will periodically post my more recent ones.  OK, that’s all.

On Top Of The World

•December 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sometime during 2014 I hit bottom.  I hit the lowest point of my life and I swore I was going to make a change.  I don’t remember all of the details, and I often try to forget them anyway, but sometimes I think I need to go back and revisit those moments to remind myself where I have come from and why I should keep going.

It wasn’t one specific moment that I can pinpoint and say, yeah, that was it, that was what did it, but I do recall how I felt during that time.  I was coming home daily from work angry.  In the past, I had come home from work frustrated, as I often felt like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough, but now it was different.  I was angry, and that’s no way to spend your days at work.  I was often tense and because of this I snapped at my friends, my family, and my coworkers.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was lonely.  I was 33 years old and I didn’t have a girlfriend and I rarely spent any time with my friends.  I went out with them when I could, but I let my work schedule dominate my social life.  I made excuses not to go with my friends because I had to be up early the next day, but I always had to be up the next day, so I never went anywhere.  I tried to eat healthy, but my solidarity led me to eating fast food and take-out just so I would have an excuse to leave my apartment for a few minutes and maybe interact with someone.  Like my friends, I rarely saw my family and despite living close to my parents and all of my siblings, I found my relationship with them deteriorating.  I was becoming more and more disillusioned with life with every passing day and I started to accept that my life was what it was and the decisions I had made brought me here and there was no use fighting it.  I tried to tell myself I would be OK without a family.  I had nephews and nieces to play with so I didn’t need a wife or children of my own.  I tried to see how my life would play out, living in my two bedroom apartment, eating Thai food, and watching movies on Netflix for the rest of my days.  It some ways, to a thirty-something year old male, all of that sounds appealing, but then I thought further down the line.  I thought about turning 50, 60, maybe even 70.  Was that the life I wanted?  Was I going to grow old living in the same apartment for 30 or 40 years and then die alone, my nieces and nephews being my only family?  I still went to the gym on occasion, but I started fearing my stress, my loneliness, and my ridiculous work schedule was killing me.  Suddenly, I feared that if I continued along this path, I would die young and alone, and it scared me.  I was on a direct path of becoming my father, and that, above all, was, and still is, my biggest fear.

I remember hearing a song.  A friend had sent me this song and told me to listen to it.  It made me cry.  It still makes me cry today just thinking about it.  I hadn’t cried in a very, very long time, but on this night, listening to this song, I cried like a little baby.  I cried so hard I had to get a towel from the bathroom to wipe away the tears.  I looked in the mirror, my eyes still red from the tears and I told myself, Stop it.  Stop it right now.  I didn’t want to be angry.  I didn’t want to be sad.  I didn’t want to be lonely.  I didn’t want to be me.  I swore that was it. I swore from that moment on I would not be any of those things.  I had to change, and I had to do it then and there.  If I waited, if I kept making excuses, I don’t know that I would be here today writing this.

Another friend of mine had recently suggested that I make a Bucket List, one of those lists we make of all the things we want to do or accomplish before we die.  I sat and thought about it, but only one thing came to mind.  Of all the sadness I felt, all the stress and all the anger, there seemed to be one thing that made me happy.  I loved learning and speaking Spanish.  I had been devoting myself to learning it since 2008 and now, six years later, despite speaking it fairly well, I was doing nothing with it.  Sure, I greeted my coworkers in Spanish from time to time, but I wasn’t out there actively using it.  I could watch movies or read books in Spanish, but so what?  I wanted to do something more with it, and I felt like to do that, I needed to do something crazy.  I needed to go to where the language was spoken and spend some time immersed in the language.  I thought up this plan to go to Spain.  I would spend an entire month there and speak no English.  Initially, I wanted to go to Valencia, but after doing some research, Madrid seemed like the better choice.  I told myself I would need two years to prepare, and I set out making the plans.  I told my friend I didn’t have a bucket list, but I had this, and she offered to help me out.

The first thing she told me was that it was ridiculous to wait two years to go to Spain.  I should be able to plan it all out in a year.  So I got to work.  I started calculating how much money I would need.  I applied for my passport, I sought out the lowest priced plane tickets, I found a place to stay, and soon, almost without even realizing it, I had planned a trip to Madrid in May of 2015.  I started to get excited as the trip approached.  I told all of my friends and family about it and I was a little surprised at how supportive they were.  Initially, I thought someone would challenge me on it and say it was a crazy idea, but everyone I knew supported me on this crazy plan of mine.  Slowly, I found my attitude was changing.  I had something to look forward to and slowly I found myself eager to wake up every morning.  With the help of my friends, I turned myself around.  Sure, the goal was to head off to Spain, but in the meantime, I started enjoying life at home.  I had more energy, I smiled more often, and I didn’t let things at work bother me nearly as much.  Sure, life was not perfect, but I was doing my best to see the bright side of things.

Then one day I heard another song. I should say that music has always been important to me and to the way I feel.  I often use songs that I like to tell the world how I really feel.  Sometimes they get it ,sometimes they don’t,  The point is, I heard this song, along with several others and like that first song, it had an effect on me, but in the opposite way.  Listening to the music I was inspired and suddenly I could do anything.  I could take on the world and I wasn’t about to let anything stand in my way.  As the months passed and my trip to Madrid became more and more of a reality, I found myself alive for the first time in a very long time.  I had gone through my twenties and early thirties in the dark.  I let too many things stop me from being happy.  I let the world around me dictate my happiness instead of making my own happiness.  I won’t lie.  There were times I looked for excuses to not go.  I worried something would come along and at the last second, I would cancel the trip.  In fact, many of my friends and family felt the same way, but didn’t tell me this until after I made it there and back.

I went to Spain on my own for the entire month of May, 2015.  I went with one intention and one intention only, to not speak English for the entire month.  Unfortunately, this was virtually impossible, but I did my best.  What I did not go to Spain with the intention of was meeting a woman.  I told myself over and over that no matter what I did, where I went, or who I met, I would not have any kind of romantic encounter while in Spain.  It would make it too difficult to come home.  Well, I survived the first two weeks without any trouble, but week three got me.

It’s funny to think of how we met, because really, we could have met while I was still in Connecticut.  We met online.  It just happened that she lived in Madrid and I was staying in Madrid.  We talked online everyday from that moment on, and despite only meeting in person for one day, we were hooked on one another.  I think I went on auto-pilot after that, making decisions quickly without really planning it all out.  I used to plan everything, even what I would do on my day off from work, and I mean down to making hourly lists of what I wanted to accomplish.  Now, I was flying by the seat of my pants.  I was desperately trying to be the new me and I was totally enamored with her and I wasn’t going to let the old me let her get away.

I returned to the United States with no intention of ever travelling to Spain again.  This didn’t change the fact that she and I still talked every day from the moment I got home until this very day.  Yes, you see, after her week-long visit to the U.S., she and I decided we were meant to be together and we would do whatever it took to make that happen.  Again, going on auto-pilot, I decided I would give up what little I had in the U.S. and move to Spain permanently to be with her.  In February of 2016 I flew to Spain and I am still there.

This is where things turned.  Life is powerful, and despite all of my efforts, being in Spain has been the hardest thing I have ever done.  As much as I have tried to be that person I wanted to be, the old me finds its way back into my life from time to time.  I came here, I got married, I became a father, and that’s the new me.  I have been unemployed and missing the U.S. since I got here.  That’s the old me.  I want the old me to go away, but he keeps coming back to haunt me.  The fear and self doubt that had existed in me back in the U.S. followed me here.  I want to be that person inspired by the music to live my life without a care, but it has become so hard.

I love my wife and my daughter more than anything in the world and I will love them no matter where we are in the world, but I miss my home in the U.S. and feel I have to find a way back there.  We have talked about moving to the U.S. at least while my daughter is in school, but that’s still a few years away and I have to find a way to be content here until then.  I heard that song again the other day.  In fact, I heard them both and I think that’s what brought me here today to write all of this.  I want to be on top of the world again.  I want that feeling that it doesn’t matter where I am, I can do anything.  It’s easier said than done.  I still have so many things I want to do and I still want to be that person who will go out and do them, but I have to find a way to push aside once and for all the old me.  I know that really the solution lies within me.  There is no magic trick nor any simple solution that’s going to shove away my fears and make me a new man.  I have to do it on my own.  I know many of my fears are irrational and I just have to tell myself each and every day that I can go on, I can do this.  I have a long way to go and we are not even close to the end.  I want to watch my little girl grow up and I want to watch our family grow and grow.  It won’t be easy, but I guess no one ever said it would be.