USA

So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Christine

Hello! I’m back again with my favorite blog series, So You’re Dating a SpaniardThis time I’m interviewing Christine, a New Yorker dating a Spaniard.

Christine Antoine

So, let’s start off with you introducing yourself to the blog readers!

My name’s Christine Antoine. I’m 25 years old, from the Bronx, NY. I did a summer study abroad here after my junior year and fell in love with Spain and I knew I wanted to come back. So I found out about the Auxiliares de Conversacion program and I’m now entering my 3rd year working as a language assistant in Spanish schools.

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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

Summer in the USA

I made it! On Thursday morning, I woke up to the news that my flight to New York (JFK) had been delayed four hours, and I would probably miss my connecting flight to Chicago. As you can imagine, I was quite—shall we say—perturbed by said news. Nonetheless, I made my way to Barajas, only to stand in the check-in line for an hour and forty-five minutes! One hour and forty-five minutes. Incredible! Somehow, we made it to JFK by 4:05, and as my connecting flight was set to leave at 5:05, I booked it as fast as I could. Thank goodness for fast-track passes that allow those with flights leaving within the hour to get through customs. I arrived at the gate at 4:55, triumphant but sweaty, and I immediately texted my parents, who were, as it were, standing by, just in case I did make it. And they met me in Chicago three hours later! A happy ending indeed.

The first things I do when I get home are …

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  • … relish falling asleep to the sound of crickets, rather than my neighbors’ television.
  • … wear sweatpants to the grocery store. Because I can.
  • … order two or three refills at all restaurants, even if it’s just water.
  • … take the dog out on a long walk.
  • … text message everyone because now I don’t have to beg them to get Whatsapp.
  • … wake up at 8 a.m., even though I can sleep in, because of jet lag.
  • … immediately have my Spanish-speaking skills regress. It’s amazing how fast this happens!
  • … eat cottage cheese and Ranch dressing. But not together (ew)!
  • … sit out on my porch and watch an amazing sunset.
  • … drive my car, and realize (for the umpteenth time) that it really is akin to riding a bike. You don’t forget. I actually go into auto-drive mode incredibly quickly.
  • … relish the fact that I get to see people I know, but hate the fact that I see people from high school with whom I really don’t want to have an awkward encounter.
  • … miss Mario, but not Madrid’s unrelenting heat.

What is going home like for you?