Friday, July 8, 2011

Closing Thoughts

Dear Reader,
Before I tell you my last story of my final days in Spain and the return home, I wanted to thank you.  Writing this blog has been one of the best parts of my last three months, and it would not have been the same if it weren’t for you.  You’ve motivated me, inspired me, and supported me throughout this entire journey, and I could not be more grateful.  
This won’t be the end of lachicaamericana.  I have a few ideas for continuing this little relationship of ours post-España, but I’ll be taking a short break first to settle back into life stateside.  Until then, though, stay happy, stay healthy, stay safe, and...

Love, love, love,
Endings and Beginnings

Home.  The homeland.  The promised land.  The motherland.  The mothership.  The nest.  Headquarters.  Home base.  Home plate.  Place of birth.  Place of growth.  Place of being.  Here.  I’m back.
And I can’t quite believe it.  
It’s been a week and a half since I made the return trip across the Atlantic, and I still haven’t been able to really come to grips with the fact that my Spanish adventure is behind me and real life is staring me in the face.  Nothing’s really changed around here.  There’s leaves on the trees and grass on the ground.  The cat’s grown.  But the people, the places, the conversations.  It’s almost as if I’d never left.  
And it makes me think, was Spain just a dream?  It did really happen, right?
But I have pictures.  And I have blogposts.  And I have emails.  Concrete evidence that the last three months came and went and that I was in a foreign country for all of them.  Maybe it’s just the reality of it all that makes it so hard to wrap my head around.  A little country bumpkin from Caledonia hops on a plane to Spain without any plans or any spanish.  There, she finds beaches, sun, friends, memories, and a little bit of herself.  She falls in love with Fanta Límon, chocolate croissants, travel, writing, photography, and the sea.  She narrowly escapes near-fatal experiences with jellyfish, pierogies, and unexpected swarms of male genitalia.  And she realizes the value of her friends, the support of her family, and her potential.  
I woke up at 6:00 am on my last day in Spain to meet the sun as it rose above the sea.  The air was warm, but with that slight tinge of coolness that defines a summer night.  The sand was almost cold, having lost the heat it carried the day before.  The sea was steel grey and the sky was lavender and peach and beautiful and sad all at the same time.  And after snapping some photos, I sat down on the boardwalk, and I just sighed and dropped a tear or two into the sand.  The clenching in my chest I felt about leaving Spain wasn’t really about Spain.  It was about the people I came to love, the moments of absolute happiness I had, and the feeling of a journey completed.  I thought about where I was a year prior to this, compromising my goals and dreams, grappling to hold together a relationship that just wasn’t holding.  I thought about where I was in February and March, starting to find happiness again running, dancing, and feeding cows; anxiously embarking on this big journey in the hopes that I’d pop out the other side a whole person again.  And I thought about where I was and who I’d become.  

So did I find what I was looking for in Spain?  Perhaps.  I’m still not quite sure what it was I’d lost in the first place.  My groove?  My mind?  A little piece of my heart?  Myself?  My way?  Maybe a combination of those things.  There wasn’t one thing missing from my life pre-Spain that I could point to and say “Yup, that’s it.  That’s the missing thing.”  But wherever the holes were, and whatever you call them, they’re filled.  Do I know myself completely?  Absolutely not.  If anything, this trip taught me that I have quite a lot more learning to do.  But do I feel whole again?  Yes.  I feel bright and shiny and brand new.  Ready.  
In closing, I want to share with you an excerpt from my first journal entry in Spain:
April 4
“Now I’m here.  I’m in Spain.  Three blocks from the Mediterranean Sea.  And I sat here in my little room and looked at how the sea changes color with depth and distance, and I cried.  I wondered, I marveled, I believed.  I thought, for the thousandth time in the last few months, about what a truly lucky, lucky girl I really am.  Happiness found me, or I found it.  It doesn’t really matter.  But this trip, this journey, is both an end and a beginning all at the same time.  And I am so grateful.”
Full circle we have come, my friends.  Now, it’s time to start again.  
I’m happy.  
I’m ready.  
I’m back.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for everything,