Two Threads

The music is loud and it fills the room. All eyes are on us, and I can’t stop smiling. He grasps my hand, a bit harder than normal, and whispers, “Vamos.” So we enter the room, bright lights shining hotly on us, and I try to see everyone and everything, take it all in, remember everything about this moment. All these people, all this happiness, happened because we happened. We are the cause of these beaming faces, this raucous laughter, this clink of glasses. We are so loved. And we are so unbelievably lucky.

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Pretty close to where it all started

My life and Mario’s life have become intertwined, two threads of the same story, irrevocably twisted together. I didn’t mean for it to happen, didn’t head to Spain looking for love, let alone looking for him. But happen it did.

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Nevertheless, sometimes I feel a twinge of envy as I look at others’ lives. Perhaps I’m crazy, and feel free to say so, but I do sometimes envy those who aren’t headed to Spain, who aren’t married to foreigners like I am. I think of their lives, and I wonder what it’s like not to always yearn. I miss half of my world. Every day.

In the US, I miss Mario most of all, his contagious laughter, our bilingual jokes, how he tells me he loves me. I miss the sunshine and dry plains of Zamora. I miss speaking Spanish, feeling like I’m always learning and growing somehow. I miss our friends: R with his earnest attempts at English, J’s jokes, M who sees Mario much like I do. I cannot help but think of café con leche, chorizo, salchichón, and lentejas. I miss walking past the corner store that sells salt cod, sweet wine, and aguardiente. I reminisce about drinking sweet liqueurs out of frozen tiny beer steins after long lunches, the orujo staining our upper lips a milky brown. I think of paseando after dinner in the summer, when the streets are finally cool and sometimes smell of an afternoon downpour, the pharmacies’ thermometers blinking the temperature in red. I remember how to savor wine and food, linger over a meal,  and—because I must—speak deliberately, with a purpose.

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In Spain, I miss my family—my mother’s hugs “on both sides,” my father mowing the grass, chatting with my sister-in-law about the Hoosiers, the family get-togethers. I miss the green grass, the smell of fires in the fall, my backyard garden with its endless sweet green peppers and curious rabbits poking about. I miss the local Mexican restaurant, its colorful, joyful booths and waiters who already know our orders. I long for cookouts, pitch-ins, and barbecues; fireflies, dandelions, and open fields; barns, cornfields, and corner stores. I miss them all, but know they’re waiting on me to return, and I hope one day I will.

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I think that coming back and forth exacerbates it all. I read posts from former Conversation and Language Assistants who are reminded, every so often, of Spain, and they miss it. Understandably. I wonder if these feelings fade. I think they do, over time. They become less and less frequent, less and less painful. Is this good or bad, this lessening? Who’s to say? I just know that my feelings do not become less frequent; in fact, as I become more deeply entrenched in another culture, another country, another place altogether, I’m realizing that these feelings are more frequent, and often more gut-wrenching. I will never stop missing the other place. Never.

And so I face my future, knowing that something will always be missing, some hole will always be present. These holes I will fill when I return to that place; they, in turn, will be emptied when I must inevitably leave.

And please, don’t think I’m complaining—there’s no reason to complain about my life, fortunate and blessed as it is. But remember that your life, too, is fortunate. T-minus twenty-six days until I’m officially a madrileña.

18 comments

  1. Ohhh, imagine my surprised when I read this entry and find a link that redirects to my own blog–weird feeling! First time that has ever happened :) I am honored.

    I don’t think you are complaining at all, you are just realistic. I understand completely. As much as I love Spain and as much as I want to return, even the (hypothetical) thought of having to leave my home and family again always puts a knot in my throat.

    And I don’t think it is something to be ashamed of. Your home will always be a part of you. I think it is a beautiful thing–we’re lucky! Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a home worth missing :)

  2. Thanks for writing this. This entry totally hit close to home. I’m in Chicago right now, and I miss Madrid so much. It’s so hard – I’m excited to go back to Madrid soon but at the same time I’m making sure I cherish every moment I have here because I know I will miss a lot of things here when I’m there. And to top it all off, I’m dating an English! #tornbetweenthreecities

    1. You’re welcome. I pretty much wrote this for me, but it’s nice to post some deeper stuff on the blog, ya know?

      I’m torn between cities — too many of them.

  3. That was beautiful.

    Noticing feelings, understanding their transience, and committing them to words to savor them in the future is a great skill. This might be your best post yet.

  4. I completely agree with this post and ask… HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT! I’ve been here for 2 years, starting on a third, and sometimes I feel like the feeling is getting worse… or maybe its better than the depressions that I used to sink into. All in all it makes for very complicated thoughts before bed…

  5. I feel exactly the same, with an extra country added in – India and Scotland and if I ever move from here, Spain. Every time you make a home somewhere, you add one more place to miss to your internal list.

  6. That’s the downside to traveling and having friends and family all over the world – no matter where you are there’s always someone you’re missing.

  7. I think you have hit the nail on the head for many expats living somewhere away from where they were born and brought up. I have similar feelings about England even though I have now made my home in southern Spain. I enjoy visits back to the UK, but home is where the heart is :)

  8. I think it’s natural to miss things, people, places and it’s harder when you have you’re heart in two places. I recently wrote about the feeling of missing things now that I’m temporarily home before I give Basque Country a go. Now that I’m home I find there are certain things here (California) that frustrate me and others that I absolutely love and the same goes for Spain. Striving to find the balance. The more were exposed to other ways of living and possibilities, I’ve realized there is no such thing as “perfect.”

    It’s easy to yearn for something different and envy what we think others are happy with and that’s when you can’t compare. I’m fighting the comparison game myself.

    Yes, how lucky to have two families, two cities, two homes in different parts of the world.

  9. What a beautiful post! It brought a little tear to my eye because I know exactly how you feel and to be honest, I don’t think it ever does get easier, especially now that you’re married and are making a life in Spain. I’m leaving for Spain again next week and feel like I might have a nervous breakdown having to leave everything that I love so much once again, while at the same time I’m filled with this giddy excitement thinking that I get to go back to a place (and people) that I adore so much. I think I’m just rambling now, but I enjoyed this post a lot :)

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