Two months ago, I arrived in Spain to begin a new life adventure. I think I am starting to find my groove here, and, although Stella may have her groove back, I have a long way to go before I have mine. I am humbled by so many things in my new environment. It is certainly lonely, but not because I am alone, because I do have some friends and have been making more. In fact, I have started making friends on my own steam, which is a real shift from making friends through other people. Upon realizing that, I am already excited about what comes next in my environment here. Crazy, simple things, like learning where to find specific ingredients in my local grocery store, or walking into a place to get my hair cut, or having an impromptu conversation with a salesperson… those things are real milestones.
For example, I was walking through town one night and heard two people talking in English. Feeling particularly full of myself at that moment, I started up a conversation with them, and found out that they are retired couple from Canada, among other places, and we are in the process of scheduling a lunch together sometime. Or finding a massage therapist, who, in addition to providing amazing skills to keep my back happy while writing my dissertation, has become a friend. Or joking with a busy restaurant employee, when she and I shared a smile during her transaction with the customer in front of me. Small steps, but significant nonetheless.
While it wasn’t my favorite holiday experience, I did live through the holiday season. It was painful to be so far apart from those I love, but it didn’t kill me. Of course it didn’t… but that is the necessary thing. To be alone and not be lonely is an acquired taste and a skill difficult to cultivate, but it is not impossible. Being able to call and talk to friends and family through the magical beauty of the interwebs, especially in the lonely times of the night, has been a real blessing. Honestly, I feel like I have neglected a bunch of folks back home, and I feel guilty about that, but I think it is part of growing into my new environment.
Another major milestone was that my things arrived from the States. I know that it seems petty to place such a strong emotional connection to “things,” but having a few things of my own has really helped me make a home, not just live in an apartment. Let’s face it, I don’t have that many things by conventional American standards, but it is so nice to have my own desk, some family pictures, and a sense of “belonging” that comes with familiar surroundings. I still have to assemble my bicycle, and that is my task for next week. At that point, I will have a whole new sense of freedom available to see more, go further, and be more independent.
One other thing: I am striving very hard to be positive. I am making a conscious decision to embrace positivity, and refuse to give in when struggling with a melancholy sense of disconnection. I am choosing to enjoy my surroundings, and trying hard to find the proverbial “silver linings” with some of the crazy stuff that has happened to me. If I want to make the most of this, I am choosing to look at my new world with positive eyes, ears, and emotions. Yes, I get cranky and lonely, but I don’t hide from those feelings either. I just don’t give them any chance to grow. I’ll watch a movie, go for a walk, or take a nap, and then seek the positive side of the experience.
So, gentle readers, thank you for the comments, the encouragement, and the opportunity to share. Please subscribe if you are interested in reading more of my adventures, and share with others who may be interested in a new life abroad.