reflection, spain

My Love Life Would Probably Be Easier If I Expressed Myself Like This To People Instead Of Countries.

“Lover, you may cause me tears, drag me through the best of years, but I love you so.” -The Staves

Hey Spain. It’s a little weird to call you “lover.” That’s intense. But you provoke a lot of feelings that have led me to write you a little note. (In my own language. If you don’t understand, I have plenty of friends who will translate it for you.)

So you thought I left?

I should say “bring it on” but I’m honestly scared to say that to you, Spain. Not two weeks after returning to the country you gave me a black eye, bruised knee, and a nearly broken camera due to your extreme winds mixed with an annoying stair in the middle of a sidewalk.

So I won’t actually say it. I have respect for just how powerful you are and it scares me a little. I’ve never fought so hard for anything as I have fought to be in your borders. Sure, I worked hard to get to England and it treated me like a disgusted stepmother. But you’re different, Spain. We have a strange amorous history. First, in 2005 you tantalized me with a few months of horrid winter weather that somehow didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for you. You were probably trying to get rid of me then, but it didn’t work. I fell hard for you and wasn’t able to explain why. I didn’t understand what your people were saying despite eight years of studying and being able to construct a perfect past subjunctive sentence. But you pushed me to be better and I learned. Leaving you was so hard and I dreamt for months of my time there, reliving it every day.

Puto frio, but surviving it with these amazing girls.

Eight years later my love for you was reignited and my excitement to  come back to you helped me save money like never before. Our reunion was sweet and happy, with our late summer afternoons San Sebastian, the drums of the traditional celebration felt all the way in the depths of my soul. I had given up on that level of happiness, that depth of feeling. On lingering warm evenings you showed me Bilbao, Casco Viejo, Getxo, Portugalete, and the beaches. You opened me up to romantic relationships, something I had previously closed myself to for a long time. You taught me how to navigate new social circles, how to go out for coffee in the middle of the week just because, to have candid conversations with people I just met, to say YES to almost anything.


Those lingering summer days turned to autumn showers, bringing with it the reality of bureaucracy and work. Your teenagers. OMG, your teenagers. They taught me things and challenged me in ways I never had been before. Your government workers,  buf, they challenged me too. You also showed me my greatest weaknesses and how I don’t stand up for myself. You took everything out of my soul, drained it completely and rebuilt it from scratch. You almost broke me that first year, I think you really tried. Maybe a normal person would have given up, but no. It pushed me to try again, to not give up too soon.

Thankfully in Spain it’s not frowned upon to have a beer during breaks at work. I almost took up smoking. Almost.

We turned a corner that second year. You were easy on me, despite the bureaucratic headaches and payment struggles that I was now accustomed to. You brought me new relationships and friends out of nowhere with very little effort, and brilliant students that made me laugh. You gave me a beautiful home in a seaside village, more than I could have ever asked for. Yes, your winter was hard on my soul, but you helped me survive it with good company. I started to doubt you myself in the middle of winter though. Questioning if my life was heading in the “right direction.” So I made a lot of tough choices that led me to decide to leave you. Choices that were so easy to justify to everyone, choices that would make me seem put together or important or highly educated.

A big piece of my heart was left here. If anyone finds it, please mail it to me.

You let me go without a fight in the beginning of summer. Your people showered me with love and good wishes and delicious food. It pained me so much to let them go. It still does, because tears came to my eyes even as I wrote that just now. I handled the separation so much a little better than the first time ten years before. After all, I had plans.  I was going to new places to make something of myself. Spain, I feared that you had turned me into a non-planning blob of jell-O that had no ambitions. I feared that being a language assistant wasn’t “important” enough.


Just because someone has a plan doesn’t mean it’s the right one, does it? That has been a hard lesson to learn, being the planner that I am. You taught me to fight hard for the things I want, so I fought hard for this plan too. I fought hard to go join another country that made sense in my mind. Long story short, that country didn’t seem to want me and I learned that I didn’t really want it either. It was like cheating on you with someone I barely knew for no good reason.  I had never felt so lost before. I’ve never cried so much as I have this past six months.

Terribly sorry, hope you’ll understand.

So now we’re back to this. I begged, kind of pathetically, and you let me come back. Justo a tiempo, just in time to continue my residency, cutting it so close that it raised the eyebrows of the government clerk. Maybe I’m far from the places I’m used to, and maybe that doesn’t make sense to most people. All I know is the peace I felt in the Madrid airport, like coming home. The palpable excitement. The peace I felt during my Christmas walk in Santander. The happiness in reuniting for a few days with people I now consider “old friends.” We have a strange relationship, don’t we? It seems I’m addicted to your way of life, the way you challenge me to make 10 euros stretch for several days, the way you push me to express myself and improve. Still, despite the fact that you’ve given me a beautiful new home in a city with friendly people, I’m scared you will reject me somehow. Sometimes I ask myself if we’re in a healthy relationship. But it’s a relationship that I want to work with all my heart.

I’m not asking you for forever, at least not yet. A foreigner can only ask for a year at a time, small bites. Please just let me keep enjoying you and I promise to be good back to you with everything I have.




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