Once More

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now Orlando, FL.  And that’s only a fraction of the various mass killings the United States has seen since I first took note of them on April 20, 1999.  I was four days shy of my 18th birthday and I came home to the news of high school students, my peers, teenagers just like me, killing their own classmates.  The thought of anyone the same age as myself capable of not only planning but carrying out such a horrific event changed the way I thought about the world forever.  At the time, I thought we could never again see such a heart breaking news story, but over the years I have repeatedly been shocked at the brutality some people in this world are capable of.

I awoke Sunday morning to the news of yet another mass shooting in the United States.  A lone gunman entered an Orlando night club around 2:00 AM and began methodically shooting and ultimately killing 49 innocent people, as well as critically injuring at least 53 more innocent people.  I don’t suppose I really need to go into the details, as this is a story that has now been discussed around the world and at this point we all know what happened.  I come here today not to go over the facts, as I am not really much of a reporter, but to hopefully sort out some of my own feelings on this event and try to find some way to understand how we can go on living in a world such as this without demanding changes to be made.

I won’t get political, it won’t get me anywhere.  I know where I stand on the issues and I know where a lot of other people stand on the issues, and it saddens me to think that there are those out there so easily swayed by anger, fear, hate, and ignorance.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t feel it is fair to say anyone else’s opinion is wrong, however I will say an intelligent person bases their opinions on the facts of the matter.  That is, we gather what we know to be true and then make an informed decision on how that makes us feel.  Unfortunately, if one bases their opinions on lies or false facts, then yes, I can say your opinion is in fact wrong.

Too many ignorant people immediately jumped on the fact that the killer was Muslim, or at the very least had a Muslim name.  Without any additional information it was automatically assumed that this was an organized ISIS plot and somehow a terrorist from overseas had made it into our country and we now had to fear any and all Muslims. “Close the borders,” was the solution.  “Muslims are the problem,” was the chant.  “These people are destroying ‘our America.'”  “Build a wall, protect our people.”  All of this foolishness being spewed by the ignorant until low and behold, the killer was in fact one of our own.  Born in New York and raised in the United States, this lunatic was one of our lunatics, not one of ISIS’s.  Sure, in his rampage he claimed allegiance to ISIS, as well as a handful of other terrorist organizations, but it turns out he wasn’t directly connected to any of them.  He could just as easily claimed to be a Nazi. Yet somehow this anti-Muslim sentiment still exists.

I’m not an expert nor do I have any statistics in front of me to argue but I know in my heart that no good comes out of anyone owing an assault rifle.  Too many people are so quick to defend their right to bare arms here in the United States, as a means to defend themselves against mass murderers such as this.  Ignorant yet very outspoken individuals feel that if more people had been armed that night in Orlando, fewer people would have died.  I can not disagree more.  More guns only equals more deaths.  I can never envision myself owning a gun nor using one to shoot another human being, even in self defense.  More innocent people would have died at the hands of other innocent people trying to defend themselves.  I certainly don’t want the accidental death of anyone else on my conscience.  People are so afraid the government wants to take away their guns.  No, the government wants to keep the guns out of the hands of psychopaths.  The kinds of weapons these killers are using should never have found their way to them in the first place.  They are weapons of war, not self defense.

The more I learn about some of the people living in the United States, the more fearful I become for our future, but it’s not immigrants or the terrorists I fear, it’s the ignorant, hate filled members of our society who want to lynch first and ask questions later.  These irrational, heat of the moment decisions they want us to make are what will destroy all that the United States stands for.  I have said many times before, I don’t have the answers, but I can certainly see the problems.  I know the solution is not more guns.  The solution is not to close our country off from the rest of the world.  I know discriminating against any group of people, whether it be racial, religious, or sexual, will only push us backwards when what we need to do as a people is advance forwards.  Like I said, I don’t have the answers, but I can only hope there are those out there like myself who want to find peaceful solutions on how we can prevent more of this madness and move forward in a positive way in our society.

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No Doubt

•June 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Over the last few days I’ve noticed that I feel pretty ill when I get up in the morning.  At first I thought nothing of it, as I often feel like crap early in the day.  Added to that is the fact that the weather has gotten quite warm here recently and suddenly we find ourselves in Summer.  It is June after all, so I am not terribly surprised by the change in temperature, but I noticed the main floor of our house gets very hot in the morning if the windows are sealed up overnight.  I thought of suggesting to Vero that we keep at least one window open overnight, but I know that makes her uncomfortable, so I let it go.  In any case, this morning was the worst.  I came downstairs and had breakfast, as I do every morning, and then went to shower, and it was at this point I started feeling kind of gross.  After showering, my stomach starting knotting up and I soon found myself racing to the bathroom, certain I was going to pass out or something.  OK, perhaps I overreacted just a little, as I am starting to feel better now, but at the time, I was in a cold sweat and wanting to keel over.  I don’t know what it is that is making me feel so bad in the mornings and I always get nervous if I am sick when I am home alone.  Who would I call if I really needed medical attention?  I know it’s a little ridiculous to start worrying about silly things like that, but whenever I feel sick or overly stressed about something, I start questioning my decisions about coming here, which I know is silly, as there is nothing so great about the life I would have if I had never come to Spain compared to what I have here now.  What makes me certain that I have made the right choice is not how I feel about the life I would have had back in the US, but how it makes me feel to think of the life I would have left for Vero if I had not come here.

In a lot of ways, her life was very similar to mine before I came here, and had I stayed in the United States, I imagine her life would have continued on the same path as mine, one of stability, but ultimately unhappiness, loneliness, and the realization that what we were living was not a life, but simply an existence.  Before, my focus was always on myself and my loneliness and unhappiness.  Now that I am with her, I don’t worry about me, I worry about her.  She is what concerns me.  Her happiness is what I care about, and because of this, I know I love her.  I think about her coming home to an empty house at night and it pains me.  I think about her spending her weekends alone, in the company of friends, but not really with anyone.  I think about what would have happened to her, not to me if I had not come here, and I feel terrible.  When I tell her I only care about her happiness, it is the truth.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to be the ideal boyfriend, the ideal husband, but that’s because I am limited right now with no job and no car.  I want to give her the world, and it upsets me that I can’t, at least not right now.

My life has changed tremendously since the day I first met her.  I don’t think there was ever a time since that first day we spent together that I didn’t think we would somehow end up together, either in Spain or in the United States.  It’s been a crazy ride and sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of being the old me, and it’s in these moments that I start questioning what I am doing.  I’ll be honest, this has not been easy, but no one ever said it would be.  It’s impossible not to worry about the future and feel stressed out over things, but what I have taught myself to do is pace myself.  Take the problems one at a time and deal with them as they come along, not before.  It’s too easy to become stressed out over things we can’t control, or at least can’t control in the moment.  I could rattle off a seemingly endless list of the troubles we could potentially face over the next few years, something that managed to keep me from sleeping the other night, but I would rather focus on the idea of the happiness we are going to have throughout the rest of our lives.

In November, just a little over five months from now, Veronica and I will have a baby.  Right now, above all, her health is what is important to me.  The doctor’s tell us everything looks great, but as this is new to the both of us, it’s impossible not to worry over every little incident.  She comes home exhausted from work and it worries me.  She often feels nauseous and just wants to rest.  I don’t like that it takes her almost two hours to commute to and from work, but again, without a car of my own, there is little I can do.  I go to meet her at the train station when I can and we come home together, which I enjoy doing, but right now I can’t afford to do that more than once a week.  Being a father both scares and excites me.  Had I never come to Spain, I would not be talking about being a dad, a papá.  I’m thrilled and terrified.  I want to be the best possible father I can be, but those moments of fear and doubt inevitably slip into my mind and I find myself stressing out over everything, from changing a diaper to paying for college.  This is a person, a person who I am going to have to care for from this day forward.

I can’t imagine a day without Vero in my life and I can’t imagine what it would have been like for her had I ever said I was not coming here to be with her.  I used to think that maybe I didn’t understand what love was or that I would never really be able to say that I loved someone, but I know now that I love her and that I want to spend each and every day with her.  Yes, I miss my home in the United States, and yes, I miss my family and friends terribly, but I know now we don’t have to choose between one or the other.  Vero and I are a family and together we are going to find ways to see all of our family, both her’s and mine.  We talk about living in the United States, and I want to, but right now, we need to focus on caring for our baby here in Spain.  It will be some time before we can head to the United States and while yes, we need to plan well in advance for a move like that, right now we need to focus on the present.

A Five Year Plan?

•May 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The last month has been a little crazy to say the least.  Back when it all started, I was dealing with the fact that Veronica was pregnant.  Oh, did I mention we almost had twins? That’s right, originally, there were two little embryos floating around inside of her.  It’s certainly sad to say one of them didn’t make it, but at the same time, trying to be a first time parent in a foreign country with twins might have been too much for me.  Obviously, I would have been thrilled to have two children, but realistically, I feel this is for the best.  That being said, the doctor’s advised us that should we someday want a second child, it is very likely we could have twins the second time around.  We will really have to think about that if we are going to consider having as many as three children.  I won’t know for sure before the first one arrives, but I think I like the idea of a second child.  A third might be pushing it.

Due to this whole pregnancy thing, Vero was ordered to stay out of work, initially for two weeks, and then for two additional weeks after that.  She was bleeding, something no pregnant woman ever wants, and she was terrified she was going to lose the baby.  Now that we are three months into her pregnancy, she has been allowed to go back to work and I think she and I are both breathing a little easier.  It’s hard for me to describe my feelings.  As always, I don’t show much of my emotions, and this situation has been difficult for me.  I have never had to care for a pregnant woman, nor have I ever faced the prospect of being a parent.  Of course I am excited, but I didn’t know how I would react if she had lost the baby.  It scared me and I certainly didn’t know how to offer her any comfort.  Thankfully, I think we are both settling down and we are confident she is going to be fine and in November we will welcome our first child.  Like I said, I am excited to be a dad, but it also keeps me up at night.  I have always said I want to be a good father, but I am not sure I necessarily know what that means.  Certainly nothing in my life will be more important than my child and I only hope that when the day comes I will have a good job that will allow for me to care for my wife and child.

I think being home with Veronica for four weeks was good for both of us.  We really needed the time together to really get to know one another better.  I know that sounds a little ridiculous for two people who are preparing to get married and have a baby, but the fact is, we had not previously had a lot of free time together.  For the month of April, we were able to be together in the house and get used to being with one another.  I often thought to myself that she and I really do belong together as after four weeks, we were not tired of one another and I think we were even a little more in love with one another.  We smile and laugh together quite a bit and I am well aware I am not an easy person to live with, so if she can really be happy with me, I know I am with someone very special.

One of the things that surprised me a little during our time together was a discussion we had about the future and what we want.  She told me that she had always dreamed of owning a small coffee shop and that she would love to open one in the United States.  A few years back, when I was tired of not advancing further along in my job, I had started making plans to open my own coffee shop.  The idea fell apart when the economy tanked and when I decided it was not  good idea to try to go into business alone.  Now that I am with Veronica and she and I seem to share a common idea, I am excited to think we may actually be able to make a dream of mine become a reality.  While I am content living in Spain, one of my concerns when I found out I was going to be a parent was the education of my child, as the educational system in Spain is not anywhere near the quality of schools in the United States.  Sure, not all the schools in the U.S. are great, but I think I would much rather have my children go to school in the U.S. instead of in Spain.  Veronica seems to agree with me and I have the feeling we will be moving together to the United States in the next few years.  I try not to think too much about it, as it is awesome to be living in Spain, but I think after four or five years, I will be ready to return to the U.S., and I think Veronica is also interested in living there, at least while our children are in school.

While it wouldn’t be cheap, starting a small coffee shop would certainly be possible, especially if we start putting the plan together now.  Like I said, I had put together a plan many years ago and I never truly gave up on the idea.  If we are able to save a little money here over the next few years, moving back home won’t be too difficult.  Ever since the topic came up, I have been very excited to think about seeing my family and friends in person.  I talk to them online when I can, but nothing can substitute seeing them in person.  The idea of bringing my family back to the U.S. and then opening our own business makes me very happy.  After so many years of having my hopes and dreams dashed one after another, it is amazing to think so many things are possible now that I am with Veronica.  She and I don’t want much out of life, simply the opportunity to raise our children in a relatively stress free environment and someday retire knowing we can relax and enjoy each day of our lives.

While I haven’t gone into any specifics with my mom, she knows we would like to move back home and she is thrilled.  One of the things I had always hoped for was that I could someday help my mom to live more comfortably and enjoy her life.  I have a few ideas in mind in how I hope I can help her and at the same time be close to home in a few years.  It will take a little work, but I think my plans are pretty solid.  Of course we never know what tomorrow might bring, but I am confident that with Veronica, I can do anything.

I Write To Stay Sane

•April 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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.

No One Said This Would Be Easy

•March 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been in Spain for 26 days now.  It’s incredibly difficult to describe how I feel, but I felt I should give it a shot, as I haven’t written anything in English since my third day here.  This is not to say I am having tremendous success in speaking Spanish, just that when I sit down to write, Spanish is what comes out.  It’s hard to put into words the emotions I am feeling, so perhaps it’s better I just write and let my phrases reveal my feelings.

I spend a lot of my days alone, which really isn’t helping me adjust.  Vero works during the day, so unless I take the bus and then the train into Madrid, I am alone in the house Monday through Friday.  On the days I choose to stay here, I walk to the supermarket, which can be more frustrating than it should be, and sometimes I just randomly walk around the neighborhood to get a little exercise.  I watch a lot more TV than I did in Wallingford, and despite it being in Spanish, it’s a lot of crap I’d rather not waste my time on.  If I decide to take the bus into the city to meet Veronica when she gets out of work, I have to time it just right.  It takes almost two hours from the time I get on the bus to the time I get off the train in Madrid.  It gives me time to think and I try my best to go over things in my head in Spanish as all too often I find myself thinking in English, something I am working hard to avoid.  Except for right now of course.  I know my way around the Puerta Del Sol a little bit now, so I can walk around or browse various stores, but typically I end up in Starbucks or Dunkin Coffee (Donuts) writing in my notebook as I wait for Vero to get out of work at 7:30.

Once we are together, I am happy.  She is genuinely happy when I come meet her in Madrid and we ride home together.  At first it was difficult, as I struggled to talk in the car on the ride home, but I have been forcing myself to make conversation, even if it’s foolish topics.  She asks me about my day and while it’s hard to chronicle nothing, I do my best to make it sound interesting.  Once home, we make dinner.  Well, I watch her make dinner and I set the table.  We eat while watching more crappy television, clean up, and head upstairs where we cuddle in bed, again with the TV on, until she falls asleep in my arms.  I suppose all the boredom I experience during the day without her is a fair price to pay when we get to fall asleep together every night.  I just wish right now I didn’t have to spend so much of my time alone.  I had plenty of time to be alone in Connecticut. I want to be with people.  I want to do things.  OK, before I go too far, it should be pointed out that right now, I can’t really do anything to change the current situation.  We are not yet legally married, which means I can not work, which means I have to sit here and wait basically.  She sees how bored I am and she feels bad, but we both know I just have to be patient.  Hopefully, it will only be a few more weeks before I can finally get out and look for a job.

I did find a group that meets at the library just around the corner from our house.  It’s a small group of adults that meets every Tuesday to practice speaking English.  I was welcomed to the group as I can both help them with their English and work on my Spanish at the same time.  It’s only once a week, but it’s a start.  I also had the notion of suggesting a book club that could possibly also meet once a week which would be another wonderful opportunity for me to focus on my Spanish.

I don’t want anyone to think I am not happy here, that is far from the truth.  I just get frustrated feeling trapped in this one spot.  Hopefully a job will get me going and I would very much like to have a car.  I know driving here is a bit different, but I miss the freedom of getting in my car and just driving for the sake of driving.  That may never happen here, but who knows?  Of course I miss the better parts of my life back home, and it’s hard not to think of it, but at the same time, when I think about the aggravation I experienced in my job or the loneliness I felt each night when I went to bed, I know I made the right choice in coming here.  It’s just going to take me a long time to adjust to being here, and I may never fully integrate myself as I would like to.

I think about  living in the United States with Veronica, and even she has suggested we consider moving there at some point, but I don’t know if it’s as easy as she would like it to be.  I honestly can’t imagine never going back there, but it is not something that will happen anytime soon.  Sure, we will visit and I can’t wait to see my family in person again, but in order for me to be with Veronica, to have a life of my own, I had to sacrifice quite a bit of what I had in the United States.  Again, I do not regret my choice, but that doesn’t make saying good-bye to all I knew any easier.

In a few minutes I’m going to have a Skype conversation with a guy from Bilbao. He wants to practice English and he says he will help me with my Spanish.  I’m a little nervous, but I know this is the kind of thing I should be doing to make myself more comfortable.  In any case, I better go prepare.  I’ll try to keep up here a little more frequently, as it is good to clear my head once and a while.  OK, we’ll talk soon.  Adios.

Let’s Take It From The Top

•February 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Well, I’m here.  Right now, I am sitting at my dining room table in my new house, just outside Madrid.  Yes, I am in Spain, and yes, it’s permanent.  The last few days have been a blur.  I’ve gone through a huge array of emotions as I have tried to acclimate myself to my new home.  I flew out of New York on Saturday night as the northeast braced for a huge blast of cold winter air, and when I arrived, I was hit with temperatures in the fifties.  Back home it’s snowing and while it is certainly not hot here, I don’t envy those in Connecticut right now.

It was difficult to say goodbye to my friends and family, particularly my mother who I knew was hit emotionally the hardest.  She was clearly happy for me, as she sees how happy I am with Veronica, but at the same time, I understand how hard it is to be so far apart from the ones you love.  Luckily, thanks to things like Skype and Facebook I can still communicate quite easily with my family.  No, I won’t be there at my nephew’s next baseball game nor will I have the chance to see my niece start kindergarten, but they will always be in my heart and I will do my best to send them messages as often as possible.

I arrived in Madrid around 10:00 Sunday morning, Valentine’s Day, so it was very special to spend the day at home with Vero.  Once home from the airport, we stayed inside, so really I could have been anywhere, not just Spain.  It was yesterday that things finally hit me.  Vero had to go to work, but was only planning on working a half day, so we had the early afternoon to go into the city.  We planned on getting me a new cell phone so I could cancel my plan back home.  We had to take the train to the center of Madrid, and when we walked up the stairs to exit the train station, I was smack in the middle of the Puerta Del Sol, one of my favorite places to visit when I was in Madrid in May.  All of a sudden the memories of being here flooded back to me and I felt like I had never left.  We walked along the same sidewalks I had gone up and down only months ago and I saw so many of the same things I had seen back then.  I know Vero goes there for work every day, so for her, it was not so incredible, but for me, I couldn’t help but smile as I felt like I had finally come home.  She and I had a coffee at a nice little cafe just outside the royal palace, another favorite spot of mine, and when she went to work, I went to a Starbucks to set up my phone while I waited for her.  We got home around 9:00 in the evening, which I guess is pretty standard for her and I will have to adjust to that type of schedule, but I am sure everything will be fine once I have a job and a reliable way to get to the city.

Getting back to the center of Madrid could be a little tricky for me, at least for now, as I have no car and I am not so confident in taking the bus on my own just yet, so for today at least, I am trapped at home.  I may take the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood a little bit, just to familiarize myself with the area.  I know there is a library and a grocery store not far from here, but it’s a little cool out and I may just stay indoors today, as I still need to arrange many of my things.  I’ve found places for most of my clothes, but I feel like I still have a lot of junk I need to find a place for.  In some ways I feel like I should be doing more, but Vero is right, I need to relax a bit and take my time adjusting to being here.  We both agree it will probably take about a month or so before I feel fully at home here.

I still won’t be able to work for probably two months or so, but I have some money of my own and Vero insists on paying for almost everything.  That won’t last, I’m sure.  We talked a little yesterday about jobs and she did a little research for me into possible positions.  As I have said time and time again, I can most likely walk into any McDonald’s in Madrid and ask for a job, but I don’t really feel I gave up my entire life back home in the United States to cross the ocean so I could work at another McDonald’s.  I’m not saying I won’t do it, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t be successful if that is what I chose to do, but I think there are plenty of other opportunities here in Spain for me to take advantage of, given my ability to speak two languages.  Sure, I still stumble a bit when talking in Spanish, but Vero has suggested there are classes I can take for free to help improve my level of speaking before I try to get a job, and she thinks I would be a perfect fit to teach English to Spanish speaking adults.  As a matter of fact, I think I would enjoy teaching small groups of adults and surely it is a great way to meet more people here in Spain.  It’s funny.  For the first time in my life, I feel like I can really do anything I want.  It’s crazy to think I had to give up all that I had to feel so confident in myself.

In any case, I have the rest of the afternoon and early evening to rest up and get a little more settled in.  We will certainly talk more soon.  Until then…

Almost There

•January 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As much as I should probably be focusing on my Spanish speaking abilities right now, I felt the need to take a little time expressing myself in English.  I’m two weeks away from leaving the United States to go live with Veronica in Spain.  The past year has been an utter blur for me, and the fact that all this has happened and is not some kind of wild dream is still amazing to me.  I guess it’s safe to say that with a little hard work and dedication, anything truly is possible.

People keep asking me if I am nervous.  Nervous is not the appropriate word.  When I really think about it; when I really think of what it means to be moving to Spain, yes, I get a little anxious and yes, I suppose it’s a tinge of nerves, but right now I am more eager to go than anything.  Sure, it is going to be incredibly difficult to say good-bye to my mother at the airport, but she has been so supportive of me and she is so happy to see that I am happy, I can’t imagine not leaving.  I talk to Veronica each and every day and she is constantly in my thoughts.  I worry about her, she worries about me, I imagine what it is going to be like when I set my eyes on her at the airport, and she tells me she is organizing everything in our home so that I am perfectly comfortable when I arrive.  Yes, our relationship moved forward at the speed of light, but I have never been happier and when she and I talk about the things we want for our lives, I know we are a perfect fit.  We call it our home, and I already refer to her as my wife, although that’s not quite the case.  We want to start a family and we’re not going to wait to try.  We talk about being parents and what it will be like to raise a child with such a unique heritage and it makes us both very happy.

I have always said that all I really wanted out of life was to find someone with simple desires like my own who wanted to settle down and start a family and enjoy the simple things in life.  Veronica and I love the idea of sipping coffee together on the couch at night, watching silly television and discussing our days.  We talk about taking our child to the park to play with other children or reading stories to him at night as he falls asleep.  I don’t want anything luxurious out of life, only the joys of having a happy family together.  Yes, we talk about traveling and seeing other parts of the world, but family takes precedence.  As long as I am with her, I don’t care where we are in the world.  Veronica has talked about spending time in the U.S., possibly living here long enough so that our children could experience school here, or perhaps college and I would certainly consider it.  We both have to have jobs and right now our jobs are to be in Spain, even though I don’t yet have one.  Surely we could find work in the U.S. as well, but I want to make sure we are secure before I decide to move back.  Of course vacations to visit my family are always being discussed.

She makes me laugh and I find that to be her most enduring characteristic.  We are going to have a lot of fun together and that is so much more important than fancy cars or expensive clothing.  I can talk to her and I feel comfortable, safe even.  I speak to her in a foreign language that is not natural to me and yet I find it easy to communicate with her, even when I make mistakes.  I want to speak entirely in Spanish once I am in Spain and I am eager for her help.  She has told me that she wants our children to be bilingual, and I agree, but that would require me to speak in English to my kids.  That’s fine, but I still plan on using Spanish as much as I can in every other situation.

While I think often of departing, I haven’t given that much thought to how much I am truly going to change.  They say speaking a foreign language offers you a new personality.  I am going to be speaking Spanish every day and I hope to make friends with whom I can speak to clearly and without stumbling.  I imagine I will come across quite differently to those in Spain compared to who I am here in the United States, and that’s fine by me.  I am eager to tell stories about the U.S. and hear what others think about my country.  It really will be strange to be the foreigner in a foreign land, but I am very excited to see how it goes, and amazingly, I have nothing but positive hopes for it all.  It’s all coming very soon and I will do my best to keep you posted on my adventures.  Until next time.