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Mis Impresiones de una High School

One of the things I was looking forward to doing when my in-laws visited was taking my father-in-law to my old stomping grounds—my former high school. It was inaugurated in 1992, and it has the second-largest swimming pool in the state (!), so—I’ll admit it—I thought he might be impressed. As a former high-school teacher himself, he found everything interesting and remarkable (as in, something upon which to remark).

Afterwards I asked him if he would write up his impressions of the visit. He sent me back a very professional-looking document. If I were a teacher, I’d give him an A+, or in Spain’s system, a matrícula de honor. First I’m going to let you read what he wrote in Spanish (if you can), and then I’ll translate it at the end.

Graduation Crawfordsville High School

Graduating from my high school

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The Spanish Are Coming

The Spanish Are Coming

Spaniards, please click here if you do not get this reference, although apparently Paul Revere never uttered this phrase! Bah humbug.

One week. In one week, my Spanish family is coming. Can you all give me just one minute to freak out? (To metaphorically scream into a pillow, if you will.)

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Summer in the USA

A while back, Lauren from Spanish Sabores asked what our ideal summer looked like. I think she mentioned a beach somewhere in there, but I know how I responded: with corn on the cob and margaritas on the porch, with fireflies in the fields and long walks on the trail. She told me that my summer sounded kinda American, and … the truth is, that’s what I was craving! Luckily, I’m here for a good two months, and I’m loving it!

What have I been doing?

  • Snacking on summer produce. My parents’ garden is plentiful, what with its cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, regular tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli, cauliflower, and all its herbs—basil, lemon basil, mint, cilantro, oregano, and dill.

Tomato Garden

  • Walking “the trail.” In my town, the trail is a former railroad converted into a bike path. It’s tranquil with lots of shade, a.k.a. the perfect place to have a chat.
  • Margaritas on the porch. Porch drinking in the best drinking. (See also: wine on the porch, mojitos on the porch.)
  • Cooking. Since I have the blessed gift of air conditioning, I don’t mind turning on the stove and/or oven. I love cooking, especially in the summer, when it seems everything is in season. It’s also quite nice to take ten steps out my front door and snip some fresh basil or oregano or mint.
  • Farmers marketing. Farmers markets are the best! In Bloomington, my former college town, they have a really great one. There are always live bands, iced coffee, and an amazing variety of fresh produce. You can get stevia plants and sunflowers and Japanese eggplant and okra and rhubarb. And if you’re feeling hangry, try the focaccia made of spinach, feta cheese, and pine nuts. You won’t regret it.

Bloomington Indiana Farmers Market2

  • Planning for our wedding party. Oh, you thought it was over! N-O! We’ve still got a second, US-based wedding party to plan for … it’s going to be epic. August 30, 2013! Be there or be totalllllly square.

Kaley Mario Wedding 2012 Zamora

Spain or the US? The Ever-Present Question.

I prefer here. I don’t want to admit it, especially on the Internet (what with its permanence and omnipresence), but it’s true. For most of the year, I live in Spain, in Europe. And I prefer it here.

Kaley Shades State Park

But I want to say something, and I want it to be crystal clear: I think that my preference is okay.

I think that what I want doesn’t insult Spain or people who love it or even Spaniards themselves. My cousin(-in-law?) told me she understood me, that she would find it hard to live so far from everyone she has ever known, especially as she grew older.

I think that sometimes we get our priorities confused, we start believing that certain desires are truer than others, that no one could possibly prefer this to that, here to there, and if they do—they’re “wrong.” But I believe that no person is right in their desires, because desires are just that—desires. There’s no wrong or right when it comes to one’s preferences. But sometimes we start thinking that preferring a life in the States is just too simple—and perhaps therefore “wrong”—and that we shouldn’t. Maybe others would judge us for hoping to live out our years in Indiana or Chicago or South Carolina rather than Madrid or Paris or Rome. I’m sure some do, but it’s time to step forward and tell the world my true feelings: I want to live in the US. And so does Mario.

I grew up in Indiana. Indiana is, quite often, boring. There are a lot of cornfields; there aren’t a lot of art houses. Kids who grow up in my town can’t wait to get out, and a lot of them only find out in college what they always took for granted. This happened to me.

Going to college changed me. I left my hometown and found myself at Indiana University in Bloomington, a liberal oasis in a decidedly conservative state. There I found art and culture, delicious ethnic food, international friends, and myself. It was there I realized I wanted to step outside of the box and live in another country. I knew then that following the “typical life plan” wasn’t for me—at least not so soon. And so I went to Spain. It was there, ironically, that I realized I wouldn’t mind being a Hoosier forever, that I was patriotic, and that what I wanted didn’t always line up with my fellow Americans in Spain.

Of course, meeting and subsequently marrying Mario, a Spaniard, complicated things. We don’t choose who we love. That certainly was the case for me. I was sent off to Spain with strict warnings not to meet anyone, and I had no plans to do so. But Mario and I found each other anyway, and we stayed together because we were meant to be together. He was the one for me, and I the one for him—that much has always been clear.

Kaley Florence Ponte Vecchio

Where we would end up, will end up, has not.

Right now, Mario is lucky enough not to be one of the 25% of Spaniards who are unemployed. He found a job during a devastating economic crisis—in Madrid. And thus the decision was almost made for us: Spain for now, but who knows about later? We have our hopes and plans, but reality is often bigger and better and messier than our dreams.

Kaley Mario Cordoba