I Write To Stay Sane

OK, perhaps that title is a little over the top, but I have found in my time here in Spain, I feel best after having the opportunity to vent a little through my writing, whether in English or in Spanish.  Obviously, I do my best to expand my Spanish vocabulary by writing in my Spanish language blog, but it can be frustrating to maintain a stream of thought when I often have to stop and think if I have said what I want to say correctly.  Sure, sometimes it’s easy to fire away in Spanish, but other times, I find myself tripping over and over again.

It’s not that I avoid writing in English, rather I prefer to get the practice in Spanish.  However, as I think I have said several times before, when I really need to get things out, I come here to spout off in my native language.  Don’t get me wrong, I love speaking Spanish and I love the idea that I can express myself in two languages, but one thing I have learned is that my personality in Spanish doesn’t always sync with my personality in English.  One reason for this I believe is the fact my English speaking personality is almost 35 years old while my Spanish speaking personality is approaching 8.  Surely I speak on more advanced topics that the typical 8 year old, but sometimes I fear my vocabulary is limited to that of a 4th grader.

Being in the house all day is tough, I won’t deny it, but my options are limited.  If I wanted, I could ride into Madrid everyday, but it’s quite a long journey and I am trying my best to save money, not spend it.  As beautiful as Madrid is, a lot of its appeal is lost if I can’t buy something.  I have options closer to home as well, but those options also cost money.  There is a gym and a grocery store and at least two or three spots I could get a café con leche, but if I start buying coffee every afternoon or if I try to sign up at the gym, I’m going to run the well dry very quickly.  I knew coming here I would have enough money to scrape by until May, but I would need to find a job.  Veronica and I both knew it was going to take weeks to get the date for our marriage, and while thank goodness we finally have a date, it’s cutting it awfully close to my cash flow disappearing.  We were both feeling the stress of this over the past weekend, as bills started coming in and the money coming in wasn’t equaling the money going out.  Knowing that I will be able to finally look for work in about two weeks has lifted a huge burden off of our shoulders, but now I have to deal with the idea of going on a job interview.

Initially, McDonald’s was the furthest occupation in my mind.  I’ve spent 18 years of my life in a McDonald’s; the last thing I wanted to do when moving to Spain was find myself in another.  For better or worse, my thoughts have changed.  On one hand, yes, in order for me to start my new life here, I need to put the past behind me, but on the other hand, McDonald’s is easy, for me at least.  I have golden credentials and any business savvy owner/operator would be salivating to have me on their team, especially with the busy tourist season coming up quickly.  My fear, however, is that things operate a little differently here in Spain and it might not necessarily be a matter of credentials to get me the job.  I have been trying to work on coming up with and then answering potential interview questions in Spanish so that if the day comes I need to interview with a McDonald’s, I am not tripping over my words.  While I can carry on a conversation with just about anyone, getting into specific details of a job may get tricky for me.

I get distracted or discouraged too easily, I find, and the last few days I have been pacing around doing nothing rather than studying potential job terms.  I woke up this morning determined to be more productive, unfortunately, right now I am focusing on English.  To be honest, I have been a little too lax in my studies the last few days.  I first noticed it Saturday with Vero.  We went into the city and had a great day, but I felt like my brain wasn’t even interested in speaking Spanish.  I suppose it’s because it can be a little mentally taxing to force even my thoughts into Spanish and I get tired easily, but really, I need to incorporate thinking in Spanish as part of my daily routine or else it will never become easier.  Like any skill, I am sure over time it will be easy to pull off, but right now I am being lazy about it.  Even here at home, where I could immerse myself entirely in Spanish, I have managed to spend hours watching television in English.  It’s partly because I get frustrated if I can’t understand what is being said in Spanish, but clearly I won’t learn by switching it over to English.  Sure, Big Bang Theory is much funnier in English, but that’s not why I came to Spain.

All this being said, I need to remember to keep it simple and keep it fun.  As I have always done throughout my life, any challenge I take on becomes my life and death, and it shouldn’t be that way.  I love Vero to death and I am here for her, no other reason.  Speaking Spanish is a hobby, just like bowling or playing video games.  Yes, I want to speak well, and yes, living in Spain is going to put pressure on me to speak Spanish, but the thing I have to remember, the thing I have to tell myself over and over, the thing I have said a million time before, is that this is not a test.  I am not being graded.  There is no pass/fail.  Sure, I will make mistakes and sure I will sound silly at times, but I have to stop pressuring myself to be perfect, I have to relax, and I have to remember that I am in an awesome place surrounded by great people.  Yes, it has been tough up until this point, but that was to be expected.  I don’t think anyone thought me moving to another country would be easy, especially a country where English is not the primary language.

Two years ago, when I decided I was going to take my first trip to Madrid, I told myself I was going to be happy from that moment on.  I had reached a low in my life and decided I wasn’t going to allow myself to feel that way anymore.  Of course I knew happiness isn’t always easy to come by.  There would be struggles and moments in which I would want to give up.  It wasn’t easy, but I did it.  Coming here the second time was an even bigger challenge and I don’t think even I had a true grasp on how big a move this really was.  I let myself get frustrated and I let myself feel unhappy.  I wasn’t truly unhappy, but I was disappointed things were so difficult to start.  I started sinking again and last week I scared myself.  I had at least one, if not two panic attacks and had this irrational fear something terrible was going to happen to me here in Spain.  Thankfully, I had the strength to tell myself I was being silly and that I just needed to relax and have faith that everything was going to fall into place.  This is a life, not a race.  There is no finish line off in the distance that I need to reach.  I am here and Vero and I are doing what we can, day by day, to make things easier for us, but we have to be patient.

The silly thing about all of this is that I had always been the one telling her to be patient, and then suddenly it was me who was eager to reach some indeterminate finish line.  Sure, it’s frustrating to be caged in the house all day, but in less than two weeks, I will be legally married to Veronica.  By the end of this month, I plan on having some sort of job.  In July, my mother is flying out of the United States for the first time in her life to come visit me here in Spain and attend the ceremony for our wedding.  By the end of November, I plan on being a father.  OK, sure, this is a lot for one year, and anyone who knows me knows this is nothing like what was expected to come of me two years ago.  I had my job, my car, my apartment, and my routines.  I wasn’t happy, but the world around me thought I was at least content.  I could have gone on working where I was, making a decent salary, and having a simple, boring existence, but something lit a spark in me, and two years later, I am living in Spain.  I have no car, no job, and I live in a great home, but it doesn’t yet quite feel like mine.  It’s difficult giving up all that I had even if all that I had wasn’t that much, but it was all so that I could have so much more.  I think sometimes I lose sight of that.  Veronica is amazing and we are going to have a family together.  We are going to see parts of the word I never would have had the opportunity to see were it not for her.  I hope someday we can move back to the United States, even if only for a few years.  I do miss it and while I know we are going to visit annually, I think I would feel good to raise my family, at least for a little while, in my homeland.  It sounds silly to say that because sometimes I sort of lose sight of the fact I am in Spain, not the United States.  I miss my siblings and their children and I miss my friends.  Thankfully, I can still reach out to them when I need to, but it’s not quite the same as being able to go out for a coffee with them on a Saturday afternoon.  I know I’ll see them again, I have no doubt of that, but it’s hard to be so far away.

I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me and I am excited to know the life I had two years ago is falling to the wayside while I embark on new adventures.  I’m still sort of in limbo, in a transition stage, but I think by the end of the month, once I am married to Vero and once I am closer to having a job, things will move smoother for me and for her.  For now, I just have to be patient.  Step by step.  OK, we’ll talk more.  Bye for now.

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~ by James on April 13, 2016.

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