Why No One Cares That I Live in Spain

No one cares that I live in Spain.

Toledo Spain.jpg

No one even seems to really care that I am married to a very exotic Spaniard named Mario. (Isn’t that an Italian name anyway? How’d that happen? Must investigate.)

Or, to be more precise, they do care. But only for about five minutes and three questions. After that, wouldn’t you please stop talking about Spain? Because we need to get on to more interesting topics, like what happened on The Real Housewives of Portland last night. (Oh wait, that doesn’t exist? Well, it should.)

I’ve become used to this expat reality. It seems I always want to talk about the other, and most people would rather talk about the norm. In Spain, people are only vaguely interested in the person I used to be, in my hometown, and what my childhood was like. Some of them even seem to think they know what it was like, having seen myriad depictions of American childhood in movies and television. They even know what we Americans like to eat! Hamburgers, of course. In Spain, they’d rather talk about soccer (ugh) or the economy (double ugh).

In some ways, I understand them. I mean, how interesting can Spanish olive oil and its notable absence in many supermarkets really be to a person who’s never been there? Isn’t it annoying for me to add, “Well, in Spain …”? I suppose it is. But I can’t help it. Spain is where I live now, and coming home is now my vacation. A totally mind-boggling concept to this homebody.

The exceptions to the rule are my parents and in-laws. My father-in-law is interested in everything, I think, and thus his knowledge knows no bounds. A question about wine? food? agriculture? history? geography? Ask Jesús, and his eyes will surely light up, because he studied that veryyyy subject about 20 years ago. A human encyclopedia, that one.

But I digress. They alone are interested in—perhaps even invested in—my other life. My in-laws do want to hear about the US and my grandparents and how I played volleyball in high school. My mother and father are interested in learning the ins and outs of the Spanish village and what croquetas are. They are, thus, my refuge, the people to whom I can always say:

“Well, in Spain …”

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10 comments

  1. Very true. I generally only mention something related to Spain, 1) if it’s pretty relevant to what we’re discussing, 2) if I’m talking to people close to me. And even then, I say maybe a couple sentences.

    Before I went to Seville, a friend of mine had visited Australia for a week and a half in August 2010. He still talks about that trip. he uses every possible opportunity to talk about traveling abroad. That taught me how utterly annoying that can be. A friend of his made his face into a meme, and one of them says, “Has traveled the world. Makes [bleep] [bleeping] sure you know about it.”

    1. Also, I wonder how people from other countries/continents feel about this. Meaning that if someone from Italy were to say, “Well, in France,” would it be perceived as annoying, since moving/traveling to France is relatively easy and common for an Italian.

  2. As a 3 year auxiliar that has returned and trying to find my way in the USA with career and stability and staying in place for awhile, I struggle with that as well. Most of my friends daily stories are around their families and children, which is wonderful, but I can’t relate. And yes, after 2 seconds of sort of summarizing the whole “Spain thing” it’s pretty much over. I miss it, but am hopeful, and don’t want the European experience to be my ultimate, but I have fear. What was it? Is it now an intangible past story? Am I going to change so much that I forget it? Will it no longer be meaningful? How do I start this brand new life, having started that brand new life and take it with me? Find someone to share the story with?

    I know that you have made a life there, but I feel that aloneness too. But the comfort is in the friendships that are made with fellow Americans, or Spanish or Europeans with whom you can talk about the stories, relate on the adjustments, the stereotypes that you laugh about. I have a few good friendships made in only a short time in Spain that are deeper because of these experiences than I do with some friends in the USA.

    I love that your parent-in-laws and parents like to listen to you!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jaclyn.

      I do find those friendships, but the deeper friendships are mainly with other Americans, because in Spain they don’t necessarily comprehend (or desire to comprehend) my past life and where I come from, whereas Americans can and do.

  3. Human beings are egoistic by nature. Most of us want to tell our story because we believe it’s unique and enlightening. We love to talk about ourselves but the truth is, though, it’s not how things work.

    I have been living abroad 11 years – and never more than 3 years on a row in the same country. I summarize my last 11 years in a minute and leave the rest to be. Instead of trying to make your story heard, ask questions about their lives, about how things are back there. People will eventually drop questions on your new / past life but only as they see that you are one more of them.

    Try to relate :)

  4. I lived in Spain in the 1980′s and I still talk about it…well, in Spain… :-D It’s nostalgia, I’d be interested in your life! I mean I follow your blog. I wonder “What if” I had been able to stay in Spain, married my boyfriend, what would life be like, kind of? Who wouldn’t?? And yes the Spanish people then and now (ones I know online) have a lot of questions about the U.S., they seem to know a lot too! :-D Or think they do. I have an Instagram account and a lot of Spanish followers, those things come up all the time. It’s the best way – you show them lots of photos, you see their photos. You forgot politics! Every Spaniard seems to want to teach me about Spanish politics!! :-D

  5. I would listen to you speak about Spain! I want to go back there again. I experience the same thing whenever I talk about the ONE time I went to Spain back in 2006. I guess I just need to drop it! That meme about Australian traveler guy would have applied to me as well.

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