No one cares that I live in Spain.
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: