I have now officially lived in Spain for one entire year. I can easily say there were times I didn’t think I would make it, and even worse, there were times I felt trapped, as if I wanted to escape, to run home to Connecticut, but I couldn’t. I love Vero and I love Chloe, both with all my heart, but there are still days I wish I could wake up in CT with the two of them. Vero and I talk about moving to the U.S. all the time, but sometimes I feel like it may never happen. Ideally, I would like to be living with Vero and Chloe in the U.S. by the time Chloe is four years old, as Vero and I both think she would do better in American schools versus the schools here in Spain.
This past year has been the most frightening and most challenging of my life. I have had to escape from my comfort zone to do things I never thought I could do, or never imagined would be so hard. I know by now I should be more comfortable living here in Spain, but each day I wake up with anxiety for the day ahead. After months of being unemployed, I recently started working at McDonald’s again. Given I had worked for McDonald’s in the U.S. for eighteen years, you would think started over here in Spain would be a piece of cake, but it has actually been my biggest challenge yet. Some things obviously are exactly like back home, but other things are completely different and it’s going to take me some time to get used to it. They had me working on the window my very first day which I suppose on one hand was a good idea, but utterly terrifying at the same time. I could understand most of what the customers said, and I even had the good fortune of having several English speaking customers, but anytime a customer has a question or wants something I don’t understand, I feel like an idiot. They get frustrated with me and I understand why, as I used to have the same issues with non-English speaking customers in the U.S. I figure it will take time, but I will get better with the language as I have more exposure to the customers, but right now I hate feeling so foolish. This week they are planning on having me train in the grill, which is fine by me. It’s less pressure and more opportunities to talk to the employees without worrying about taking orders. Unfortunately, my hours are horrible this week. I have to go in in the afternoon and I don’t get out until one o’clock in the morning. I have to take the subway to where my car will be parked in the middle of the night and then drive another forty minutes home. I don’t expect to be home before three o’clock in the morning and then tomorrow and Friday I have to do the same. I told them when they hired me that I was available basically anytime and that I don’t expect any special treatment, but I really don’t like the idea of being out so late at night and Vero being home alone with Chloe. I basically have to survive my first two months without complaining, as in the first two months they can fire me without cause, but after that, if they continue to give me hours that keep me out so late, I may need to have a discussion with the manager. There are over eighty employees on the staff and I am sure they can easily cover the night shifts without my help.
I am hoping to be promoted to at least a shift running manager over the course of my first six months. At least that was the plan when they hired me. I think if I can overcome the language obstacle, leading shifts will be no problem at all, but I fear I will get to six months and they will decide I am not qualified, or worse, they may try to send me to another restaurant. Right now, I have an advantage of working in a store that is fairly easy to get to, even though it take over an hour, and there are many English speaking customers. If nothing else, the fact that I am a native English speaker offers me a slight upper hand.
I am hoping this year will be a little more smooth than the last. Between not having a car, a job, or money, the first three months here were terrible. Once we had a car, I was still unemployed and trying to legalize our marriage and Vero was pregnant which did not make things any easier. Her parents were an amazing help to us, but living four hours away, there was only so much they could do. As we approached Chloe’s birth, I was still struggling with my own anxiety and of course that didn’t help anything. I know it’s just a matter of me overcoming my ridiculous fears, but it’s one thing to say it and something entirely different to do it. I have so many things I would like to do, but right now all I can think about is getting back to the U.S.
One thing that has got me extremely excited is the chance to go home for ten days in November. Vero found great prices on airline tickets and we are planning on spending Thanksgiving with my family. I wish we were staying permanently as it is going to be incredibly hard to say good-bye once again to my family, but I think I really need to see them, even if it’s only for a week. We’ve already made plans for the things we would like to do and I am just hoping nothing happens to prevent us from going. It looks like we are going to leave Chloe home with Vero’s parents, as we both feel an eight hour flight to the U.S. would be too much for a one year old baby. As much as it will pain me to be away from Chloe for so long, both Vero and I agree it’s for the best. Obviously, my family was a little disappointed by this news, but I am hoping they will still be happy to see me and my wife for the holiday.
Another thing that worries me is that Chloe will have to start going to daycare in March. Vero is returning to work for half days so that she can be home in time to pick up Chloe in the afternoon, but I hate the idea of leaving her so young at a daycare. I know other parents have to do it but I have to try not to think about Chloe crying when we leave her or else I won’t be able to do it. One good thing about working at McDonald’s is that there will be certain weeks in which I will have days off during the week meaning I can be with Chloe instead of leaving her at the daycare, but I am not sure when that will be, as my schedule changes from wee to week.
Having a job means we will finally be able to breathe a little easier. Vero would like to take small trips throughout the year when we can and I know she is still thinking about a trip to Germany. That may have to wait until next year. Obviously, we also need to start saving money if we are going to move to the U.S., but I think the two of us are smart enough to manage the journey home when the time comes. I think it will take about a years worth of preparation and there may be a few bumps along the way, but unlike my initial move here, our move to the U.S. is going to be better planned out.
On one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a year, but on the other hand, I cringe when I think it’s going to be four more years before I can settle back in the U.S. We should have no problem entering the country as Chloe and I have American passports, although Chloe’s will already need to be renewed by then, and Veronica will be able to get a spousal VISA to enter with me. Once we’re in the country, we have to settle on where we will live which is still up for debate. My mother owns a condo which she would like to move out of and has mentioned putting the place in my name. I would love if we could live there, however I don’t know if my mom wants to wait four years for us to move in. I need to talk to her about these things, something I plan on doing in November. Aside from saving money here, we will have to sell the place we live in now, which I imagine will give us a nice buffer of money to live off of for a short time (if we are moving into my mother’s condo) but I will have to find a job rather quickly once we are in the U.S. I have a few ideas, but I need to make some connections in advance before heading across the ocean. Veronica and I have talked seriously about opening our own café, an idea I really love, but obviously that too is going to cost a lot of money to do. My hope is that it will be a successful enough business that we won’t have to worry ourselves over money too much.
Nothing is going to come easy for us and I worry about how Veronica will feel once the idea of moving to the U.S. becomes a reality. I know she won’t back out, but I fear she will be unhappy. Chloe will be too young still to really understand it all, but I don’t want Veronica to resent me if she is unhappy in America. I think if our business idea is successful it will make the transition much easier for her. I imagine it will take us at least a year in the U.S. before we can start planning a business but hopefully with a little help from people I know, it will open smoothly.
OK, I have rambled on long enough now, I must go and prepare for my night at work. Until next time….