Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Plan B

This past week has been a whirlwind of changes as my plans for the future have taken a complete 180 turn.  Due to the politics around the Spanish consulate and other extraneous circumstances, the plan has shifted and another year in Spain is no longer it.  I could have continued to push on, defying the Spanish government as I did before, or returning to the consulate again and again until I was dragged out of the building.  But being turned away had me facing that question once again, is this what I really, really want?  I just had this feeling come over me that this was not what I was supposed to be doing after all.  And so I decided, no more Spain.  But with this comes many other new considerations that I was not prepared to face.  Suddenly everything in my life from my home to my career to my relationship were coming to an abrupt end. And the questions have been multiplying in my mind.  Where do I want to live?  What do I want to do?  When will I get abroad again?  Are the adventures coming to an end?

Being home surrounded by people moving on with there lives and the influential voice of my parents only has made the decision more complicated.  I needed to clear my mind and figure this one out on my own terms.  Timing could not have been better as today I find myself in a neutral zone, by the sea once again, in San Diego.  My incredible friend that I'm here with decided to take life into her own hands, much like I did, and came here to begin a new life.  And some really well timed chats with other extremely inspiring friends has reminded me that I need to step back and gain perspective on all of this.  Having people on that same mission, to live on their own agenda, has me remembering what Spain was truly all about for me. I'm accepting the fact that my chapter in the amazing city of Madrid is coming to a close, and while that is a painful realization to swallow, I'm also reminded that just because this one door is closing, the adventure is nowhere near over.  Sure I have some big decisions ahead of me, but suddenly I'm looking forward to all the possibilities ahead and bringing the adventure just a little closer to home.

I am reminding myself now that life really is a journey and that I chose to live off the beaten path for a reason.  I'm also starting to remember certain things about living in Spain that were not so ideal and I'm looking forward to embracing a new city and lifestyle that won't be so temporary, one where I will not be such an outsider.  All I need to do is figure out my next step, Plan B, and dive in with out hesitation.  I'll still return to Spain to say farewell and get one last taste, but new cities are twirling around in my mind creating a new storm of ideas that I can't wait to dive into.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is It Worth It?

I'm swimming in paperwork, up to my eyeballs in politics, spending money on documents, gas, you name it, and I still have a low probability of getting this visa. After being turned down once yesterday on a few technicalities and tediously trying to get every detail covered before driving another nine hours to try again, I am forced to ask myself, is all of this worth it?

My perspective keeps shifting and my mind keeps changing. Massively frustrating is this rollercoaster ride I've been on, trying to decide on the next course of my life. And now that I'd finally decided, Yes!, Spain for one more year!, the challenges to make that happen are mounting up and I can't help but lose faith that this was the right decision. Getting this all together has cost me an incredible amount of time, money, and frustration, and I still don't have the visa in my hand. Now I'm reevaluating and asking myself the tough question, yet again, of what is it that I really want? Do I really want to be teaching English for another year? Is learning Spanish as important to me as I set it out to be? Will the experience be even close to as amazing this time around? Would it be possible to enjoy for just a few more months and then gracefully bow out? All these questions are bearing down on me as I face more fees, more driving, more waiting...

I suppose I owe it to myself to give it one more fighting chance before throwing in the towel. The thought of not returning to Spain makes me absolutely nauseous, but I can't determine if that sick feeling comes from my lack of another plan, emotional attachments I've made to the people I'm close to there, or because I really am meant to be there for longer. I do love it there and I do find it to be home for me. But is all of this madness some way of the universe to tell me that this isn't right and I need to move on? I think of the backpacking trip and how it felt when it ended, and I hate to admit it, but this is a very similar feeling. The truth was back then, there would have been no possible way to reproduce that trip, or capture it and keep it alive. I needed to say goodbye to the experience and be grateful for the amazing memories and people I came away with. Maybe this is the same, but because my time in Spain was not over yet in my mind, I'm not ready to let go.

The toughest part of this right now is that I must decide today. Do I run around town, to the courthouse and the notary, spending more money on authenticating documents, and then making the haul back to DC tomorrow to try my luck again? The chances of actually getting this visa are not great, but if I didn't go for it, if I didn't go through with what I began, I would never know. So I'll bite the bullet, try one last time, and if I am denied once again, I guess I'll take that as forces bigger than me telling me it's not meant to be. Surely there is life after Spain, I just need to accept that as amazing as the past year has been, it was intended to be a beautiful blip in time and another experience I'll not soon forget.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Madrid is It

After tough deliberation and an endless stream of thought on the subject, I've decided that I will stick to my initial plan and head for my home away from home, Madrid.  Agonizing over the choice of where to settle routes for the upcoming year has forced me to get back to the real truth of why I wanted to be Spain, Europe, abroad in the first place.  For so long I've wished that something would light me up inside like so many people seem to when it comes to their passions.  After trying out many different things, I've discovered that travel is absolutely it.  Travel and experiencing people, places, and tradition wildly different from what I am used to makes me feel absolutely alive.  So I will return to the road, as much as finding a comfortable spot in America among loved ones is tempting.  There will be a time for that, but right now I must continue on this Spanish adventure.  And with that piece decided on, the option of where in Spain was to follow.  I have made Madrid a home and even with it's lack of a beach and sometimes unpleasant weather and crowds, I absolutely love that city and what it has done for me.  It has such a massive amount of Spanish tradition perfectly blended with a revived new age life style that I adore.  Merely strolling through my favorite barrios, setting up shop for a long chat in a quaint cafe, or hitting the streets for an exciting late night that Madrid is famous for makes me so pumped I want to hop a plane right now and get back there. 

We all face decisions that will in some way shape the course of our lives, and in retrospect, this choice was not too hefty in the grand cosmic scheme of things.  This is just one of those times that I needed to follow my heart, my passion, and stop letting the "what if" factor stand in my way.  I hope it doesn't mean the end to a relationship or stifle my future in any way, but I've just got to let the universe guide me and have faith that these strong instincts are leading me down a road that will satisfy my passions and bring me happiness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I believe that the decisions most difficult to make are the ones that are made to satisfy another person or support a relationship. Right now I'm facing one of those decisions that challenges the strength of my individuality verses the strength of my current romantic relationship.  It comes in the form of geography, which I'm learning quickly is a common draw back of living abroad.  When it comes down to it, it's important to face these type of decisions because it forces us to be extremely, painstakingly honest with ourselves and what we really, really want.  It is much easier to skate through life going with the flow and letting the chips fall where they may.  But for me that is not so much an option.

The decision I am facing comes in two levels: where I will be in the next year and where I will be following that.  I know Spain is my home for now and I will return there once again pending all goes well with paperwork.  But where in Spain will I go?  I made Madrid my home last year and even though many of the people I grew close to there have moved on, it still feels like where I need to be.  It is a place I can call home, I am familiar with, I know.  I feel like myself there, independent and free.  But the person I am with right now is faced with his own dilemma to return to the Canary Islands.  It is an option for me to follow and each night I go to bed with my mind made up that I will and wake up with my mind set that I will not.  How do I make such an abrupt, risky decision to abandon my life I've established in Madrid or my relationship that is still new and growing?  The Canaries are beautiful and the people are fantastic, but it will always be his island and I know I'll loose that sense of individuality by being there.  I learned that the hard way for the month I spent there in August.  While it was delightful, it also put a massive amount of pressure on the relationship and robbed me of my freedom.

I don't like to put this person in my blog normally, but with this being such a unique issue to living abroad and trying to cut a new path, and with very little available to me as a road map, I figure it doesn't hurt to expose this issue to my readers.  I also feel that putting it down in ink really helps to see the big picture.  What it all comes down to is the decision between following another person or choosing a path based on your own self interest.  The only gage I have to use right now is my heart.  I'm trying to follow my instincts and be very honest with myself about what it is I truly want.  I still have some time to decide and ultimately, I know what ever I do choose will be just fine.  Still, if I go to Madrid, which is what my instincts have been hinting to me more consistently, and have to end my relationship as a result, it will be a painful process filled with what ifs.  I guess that's just the complicated beauty of life...