There is a moment of clarity when you’re in a crisis and you suddenly realize that your life is about to change. Everything around you is falling to pieces and you ask yourself, “What the hell am I gonna to do now?” Somewhere in your mind, almost without warning, you get an answer that's influenced by panic and survival instincts. I believe this jolt of conscious thought is your mind’s way, or maybe your heart's way, of telling you exactly what you want. And how, pray tell, does this somewhat downer of a subject have anything to do with Espana?! Funny you should ask! Here is a brief (I tried) summary.
My fascination with Spain started four years ago when Borja (pronounced Bor-HA), a then 16-year-old basketball player from Alicante, Spain, came to live at the Thomas residence for eight months. I was a junior in college living not-too-far from home and I spent a lot of time learning about this foreign land. Oh, the discoveries! What do you mean you speak your soft ‘c’ and ‘z’ sounds as 'th?' That’s a lisp! And there’s no tacos?! But everyone wears sombreros, right?...Right?
Turns out I pretty much didn’t know anything about Spain and most of the time grouped all Spanish-speakers as Taco Bell but in real life. My multicultural education professors would have been ashamed of my pre-conceived notions of the home of flamenco, paella, jamon, Don Quixote, and some of the most beautiful art and architecture in Europe.
So for the eight months that Borja was around, I came to know Spain indirectly. I researched it, watched movies about it, heard stories, read books, and ached to travel there. After Borja left, I promised myself I would make it to Spain the following summer to live out my dreams of the fabulous international lifestyle. But, as they say, life got in the way. After that first summer passed, then the next, and the next, Spain seemed to be just another goal on the “To Do” list. I kept in touch with Borja and his family and the question would constantly arise, “When are you coming to Spain?” I always replied with, “Soon,” mostly because I knew this little dream was too far out of my reach for a more definite affirmative response.
Then, on a night in late September of 2010, things sort of...fell apart. My boyfriend and roommate of the last three years suddenly informed me that it just wasn’t working anymore. And for a moment somewhere between listening to “I really just want to go out and party” and “I hate that you talk to me while I’m playing Halo,” clear as a bell I heard my own voice ring in my head....I’m going to Spain.
So, I spent the next three months finishing up my Master’s degree, communicating with Borja and his parents, and, thanks to my endless support network of friends and family across continents, states, cities, and down the stairs, putting back the pieces of something very broken. In early January, I packed up the car, a truck, then...another truck, and moved back in with Mom and Dad (Thanks for that, by the way). My first week home we booked a flight, and suddenly my life went from down and dreary to holy endless possibilities, Batman!
After the move home and all the way until the end of March, I started remembering the Alicia I used to be. I remembered myself on a treadmill at the gym, and in the eyes of my closest friends from all walks of life. I remembered myself on the dance floor of my favorite college bar, and in a small hometown pub every Thursday night. I remembered myself as I was covered in mud, hay, straw, and every cow by-product imaginable at a dairy farm in Mumford, as well as when I was dressed to the nines, heels included, for nights on the town. I remembered myself being incredibly happy. Not just when other people were around, or when I was laughing at a funny joke, but all of the time. And I remembered what it felt like to start again. New projects, new outlooks, new relationships. And if I said I did it alone, that’d be a lie. So, thank you. All of you.
So now I begin the final phase of remembering myself. I’m 95% of the way there and now I just need a little adventure. I know that when my 87 days in Spain are up, I’ll be ready for whatever is coming next. I don’t have huge plans for this trip. Write. Blog. Draw. Photograph. Learn. Eat. Drink. Make some bad decisions (Just kidding, Mom...maybe). But whatever happens to me in Spain, or rather, however I happen to it, I’ll keep you posted.