Good GOD. I sit here and can hardly even believe that I have been here more than a year. My one year anniversary was October 18th.
I showed up here with more stuff than there was room, head still spinning from the fact that I actually had the balls to leave my lovely and relatively well-paying job, that I gave my stuff a good cleaning out and gave half of it to Goodwill, and that I said farewell to my bestest girlies and friends and my family. And what a year it has been.
I have learned an enormous amount about the region I live in, spent too much time and bought a lot of stuff in Ikea, explored Northern Spain like most people who live here have never done or even come close to (too many posts to link that one), eaten in – shite, probably seven? Michelin restaurants in Spain, celebrated countless days of festival, experienced three general strikes, taken two jaunts and discovered an enormous amount of love for Paris, got engaged, walked with 20 pounds on my back from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, 500 miles across the country to Finesterre, Spain, planned the better part of our wedding celebration in the US this coming April, got a social security number and a JOB, done a merit-worthy job of improving my spoken language skills (though I leave a lot to be desired if we’re being honest here…) and the things I haven’t even gotten a chance to write about like collected chestnuts and rappelled in a cave, both firsts in my life. Holy Moses. Not even to mention got TWO CATS. And geez Louise, likely 7,000 pictures (not kidding). Probably the biggest year in all the 40 that I’ve been around. What an incredible whirlwind this has been.
I am lucky to be surrounded by people – both here and in the states – who are warm, patient, understanding, supportive, kind, fun, loving and just downright awesome. Our friends and family here welcomed and embraced me like I had been born into the family, and my family and friends in the states stay in touch and love to Skype and IM and send emails and generally keep me posted on all the good (and bad) stuff that’s happening there. Usually, I find myself missing nothing except for them. And Target. And DSW maybe. Life is simple here and I like it. At my core, it probably better reflects who I am than life in the US. Non-materialistic, small town, everyone knows everyone (and everyone is someone’s ex/cousin/friend’s uncle’s daughter). Simple. I am happy. I love my fiance, love my life, and I would not have done this any other way in a million years.
BUT. To keep things honest. I am also human. And a woman. And admittedly moody and periodically PMS-y (hellooooo, I mean, just stating the obvious here). Which means I miss stuff and get weepy. And sometimes, suddenly, I miss certain things so, so very much. I miss my work life – not the cube part, but the social part, the people, the drinks after work, the laughs (I worked with some fabulous people). I miss my paycheck. I miss the ability to hop on a train and head to NY. I miss my family (but realistically speaking, I saw them as many times in the last year as I did when I lived in the states!). I miss my friends. Oh, I miss my friends more than anything, the ones who I can sit with for hours over God only knows how much wine and just blabber on about who-knows-what (in English!) and still be in bed by 1am, and the ones I can just sit with and not say anything at all. I miss my options – the abundance of new restaurants and new bars and new people. I miss being able to choose to do more or less do whatever I wanted.
Having said all that, I have learned more about myself in a year than I have maybe in all my life. The strengths and weaknesses I didn’t know I had, the ones I thought I had but really I didn’t. It’s been eye opening. And scary. And wonderful. All in a year and a month. How many people can say that about the last year?