Monday, July 6, 2009

And Then we were in Navalmoral

I wrote this from Spain but it never posted. So here it is, a little late......

I admit it may not look like much. It is but a small town in the countryside of Spain. Population 17,500. The town dates wayyyy back, like most towns in Spain probably do. It is an important "way point" for travelers both north and south as well as east west. But for me? Coming into this town? It was so much more.....
As we approached the town, I had very strange feelings. Things looked a little different, but mostly I recognized them. Part of me was the girl who left 12 years ago, the girl who was rejected, unloved, facing divorce with 2 small 4 year old kids and no job or career. The Girl who thought Spain would be a great job opportunity for the Ex and a fun opportunity for the family. It was those things but it was also the end of the Relationship (ok so it took 11 more years to really do the deed, but Spain? Was the End). It was in Spain where he first told me he didn't love me. It was Spain where we sat at the table and divided our stuff. Spain where we fought the most. Spain where I tried to be so many things and failed at all of them.

But this was a new person entering an old town. I am not the Girl who left; I am the Woman who is returning to share an adventure with her teenagers. And as we got closer to our old friends' new house (God Bless GPS) there was nothing but excitement.

OK we are a little older, a little heavier, but the smiles? Just as big. And the laughter? Even grander. It was so exciting to see their new, finished house; the house they dreamed of when we lived in Spain and indeed, the house they started building when we were there. Every knook and cranny was full of beauty and thought. Tinin did most of it himself - three floors of living, the bottom floor a large room for living during the summer when it's 110 degrees (there is no air conditioning in Spain), the middle floor a complete apartment for his parents, the top floor a 4 bedroom apartment for his family. It is truly magnificant.

Mila and I spent an afternoon, just the two of us, enjoying the bottom floor, drinking diet coke and talking about the old times, the times since the old times, the future times. And yes we did this all in Spanish. She is a wonderful teacher and very patient with me. Talking with her helped me to let go of the girl I was 12 years ago. And she shared with me something so direct, so Mila, it let me close the book on the old, bad Spanish memories. We didn't really talk much about Ken and me - she was not the least bit surprised by the divorce and she could sense that I had moved past it. But we were talking about her and Tinin and life in general. And she said this - both in English and Spanish to make sure I "got it." Mila is a very direct person. She holds nothing back. And she is very smart and very opinionated in a way that is endearing because she doesn't belittle your point of view, she just let's you know she has one of her own. She said, "Here's what I think of your relationship with Ken. This is what we all thought: he was the kind of guy who wanted to have a beautiful wife to take out when he went out. And when he got home from work, you are there taking care of the kids and the house and better have dinner on the table. And he doesn't want to hear what you have to say. He doesn't appreciate you. You were a Thing to him. Am I right?" And I said, "Well he wasn't that bad really. He has a lot of good qualities." And she just looked at me like, "Yeah right." And she said, "you know, we never really liked him...."
And isn't that sad? Because he could be a really nice guy. But somehow they saw what I refused to see back then. And so, little by little, I can let things go. And instead enjoy today. This is what today brings:

Here the nearly-grown face of the lovely 4 year old child we left 12 years ago and last saw last summer when she came to the states. She is beautiful, funny, gracious, loving. The kids were so excited to see her again.

And here? The "new" edition to the family - an exceedingly bright, energetic young lady,10 years old. She is a fabulous Spanish teacher and has the natural ability to pronounce English words correctly.

Tomorrow we leave this family and go off on more adventures in Spain. The kids will ultimately return to stay with our friends for a couple more weeks, but I must go home and get back to work. I am truly sad to leave this place. I feel like there's so much more I want to do. It has been amazing to wander the streets and revisit old shops and people I knew so long ago. It has been interesting to show the kids where they went to school and where we lived. They remember almost nothing.

This time instead of tears and fears of the future, I take with me good memories, possibilities, futures. Tinin and Mila have an amazing relationship. They have created for themselves a wonderful life in this tiny, somewhat remote Spanish town. They have faced challenges together and overcome them. When he comes home from work, he gives her a real hello kiss. When we are wandering around sightseeing and they have a moment alone, they take the opportunity to embrace and enjoy each other. They tease each other at home and love each other completely. It is something so rare and something I have spent much time contemplating. And it has enlightened me. I now know why I am compelled to move to Florida.

My life in Washington is a machine. I work my butt off when I don't have the kids and tire my brain out when I do have the kids trying to juggle everything. I don't live life so much as I survive life. But life doesn't have to be this way. I am hoping that a life change will allow me to experience life, not just survive it. Oh Florida is not Spain. There won't be guaranteed socialistic employment. There won't be long siestas and 6 hour work days. There won't be sleeping until noon and wandering the streets until after midnight (Ok maybe we can do this sometimes). But perhaps I can find a balance. Perhaps I can find a place where the people are happier, the living is more open, the life a tad slower. Perhaps I can live life and experience every day instead of being glad when the day is over and I can retreat to my bed.