friends

What Do You Miss Most?

You know how, when asked to list what we miss about ourrespective countries, expats always say “friends and family”? It’s true, of course, that we (mostly) all miss those nearest and dearest to ous who happen to live thousands of miles away, but it’s also kind of a cop out. I mean, I know I use it that way. Just in case someone decides to get offended by what I miss, whether it be customer service (Don’t generalize) or people actually saying excuse me when they bump into you on the street or in the supermarket. Those are two things I do miss, but I don’t say them a lot for fear of being seen as one of “those expats”—my worst expat fear, being one of “them.” Not really, but it’s up there.

With that said, can I just say that, even though I chose this life, sometimes I wish I could just get all of the people I love and keep them in one place? Yeah, that would be nice. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to do when you have a Spanish husband, Spanish in-laws, Spanish cousins, and Spanish friends who all live in … yep, Spain. But last summer I got to have my in-laws visit Indiana and Chicago, and it was a magical experience. There’s some photos I’ve not really shared, so I’d like to do a throwback Monday and remember! Throwback Monday may not be a thing on Instagram, but it’s a thing now on Y Mucho Más, so just roll with it.

IMG_0570 IMG_0595Spanish-American Family

IMG_0606With my brother and sister-in-law

IMG_0616 IMG_0617 IMG_0709Bloomington/College Friends

IMG_0712Since we’re in the U.S., of course we had to eat Mexican food

IMG_0718Don’t deny it—my FIL is cuter than yours

IMG_0722Taught them a real “Indianer” game—cornhole. Do not call it “bags” to me

IMG_0757Hilary and Kanyi don’t care about this explanation

IMG_0759Learning about IU’s legends—if you kiss here at midnight, you’ll get married. Oops, already did that!

IMG_0761 IMG_0777 IMG_0787Colleen is funny

IMG_0798 IMG_0805 IMG_0833At Assembly Hall … We sneaked in

IMG_0834 IMG_0841 IMG_0849The dads

IMG_0902Exploring downtown Indianapolis

IMG_0942Mounds State Park

IMG_0945I love him!

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Thankful for 2012

In 2012, life changed. Life changed fast. I could say it all to you, in one breath, a rush of words and emotion that would leave you reeling. I could replay the year over in my head, wondering how I got to this point, this place right here—November 22, 2012.

In 2012 I did so many things. So many things changed in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friend’s lives. These things, there were good. They were wonderful and magical and joyful. So, dear 2012,now it’s my turn. Thank you. Thank you for:

  • July 7. On this day, I married Mario. I don’t have words for this day. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter and red scarves and dancing. It was rich with tears and photographs and the grasping of hands. I wore a white dress; he wore a suit. We joined hands, and we said yes.

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  • New family. I’ve gained some new family this year: in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles. I’m no longer the American; I’m prima or hija. I’m part of this family here in Spain, a grand family who has taken me in without a second thought, who has taught me to cook, lavished me with presents and love and welcome. I couldn’t be more grateful for my mother-in-law, Pepita, who worries about me as if I were her daughter or my father-in-law, Jesús, who emails me to wish me a happy Thanksgiving in his newly acquired English. I am so grateful to them and for them.

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  • Old family. One is silver, but the other’s gold? I don’t really buy this saying, but I am aware that my family has always been there for me, ever since the rainy Monday almost twenty-six years ago. My family has supported me through my on-again, off-again relationship with Spain, and I don’t think I could have done it without them. They love Mario like their own son, and they would do anything for us and for my brother and his wife. You couldn’t ask for more dedicated parents, the kind that go to every single sports event in high school, the kind that never say a word about driving six hours there and back to pick you up at the airport, the kind that pay for a brother and future-sister-in-law’s plane tickets just so that they can all be together on the most important day of the bride’s life.

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  • Thanksgivings past. My extended family was never one to fight. Our holidays were filled with food, laughter, and kids’ tables. There was no yelling, no hurt feelings, no real problems. As a girl, I took this for granted. Now I couldn’t be more grateful for an extended family that knows the value of togetherness.
  • New friends. I’ve met some new people here in Madrid recently, and I’m really excited to see where these friendships lead. You cannot underestimate the value of a nearby friend.
  • Old friends. Where would I be without my constant source of encouragement and laughter, Hilary? Roommates in college, friends for life. I cannot say enough about my cousin Bailey, just seven months older than me and already on her way to having her second child. It’s hard to reconcile what was with what is, but our friendships will never shrivel and die, just change and grow as we do.
  • This blog. This blog has been a source of encouragement for me over the past few years. I started it without knowing what would come of it, and I am ever so grateful for the readers who comment, email, tweet, or Facebook me. Thank you, readers! Thanks for reading, for caring, for helping me see things in a new light. Without you, I know I wouldn’t keep writing. Thank you.

So happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! If you’re in the States, please eat some stuffing for me! And—oh yeah—give your mom and dad a hug! They’re the only ones you’ve got.