Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why saying goodbye is so difficult

{bus rides out of Madrid}

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend from D.C. about study abroad. She was trying to decide between Spain and Thailand and wanted me to share a bit about my experience. She asked me what my favorite part about being here in Madrid was and I honestly didn't know how to answer. "Ask me again after I leave," I joked.

Sometimes I forget that a part of me, however small, is actually a teensy bit excited to go back. I have a semester of only classes I want to take, rather than courses for general education requirements I need to fulfill. I have an internship I'm looking forward to starting. I have all my friends and family and a new dorm room and my city. So it's not that I'm returning to a life that makes me miserable or even unhappy.

But the thing is, my time in Madrid has been everything I expected and then so much more.

Are you in love with your life? I'm not asking if you're happy, if you're not depressed, if you like your job and friends and house and car. I'm asking if you wake up every day genuinely excited to do things, whether they're part of your daily routine or adventures that are wholly new. I'm asking if you have fun, the way you did as a little kid, running around and screaming and laughing so hard your stomach hurt.

Because I really do love my life here. I love waking up and having breakfast in the backyard, where it's quiet and sunny and kind of cool and I have a blanket, a mug of tea, and a notebook. I love spending a couple hours with my host kids and feeling kind of like a kid myself. I love exploring my city every day without worrying about assignments or due dates or schedules and just seeing where the day takes me. And I love having dinners as a family and talking long after the food is finished about anything and everything.

And again, it's not that I don't have things about my life in D.C. or home in Jersey that I love, too.

It's just that I'm happy here. Really, really happy. Happy in a way that scares me, makes me wonder if I was almost living my life wrong before and if there are things I need to change, makes me wonder if this is too good to be true and if the way I feel will fade once I get on that plane back to Newark.

That's my favorite thing about this cityI'm happy here. I go to dance classes and spend weekends in new cities and buy too many things from ZARA and ride bikes for hours in the park and eat fried potatoes dripping in oil and slathered in sauce and I love it all. And it's not as though my life here is perfect; it's not and expecting it to be would be ridiculous. I couldn't go on being an au pair forever, and I miss taking classes and seeing people I love and going to a Taco Bell that has vegetarian options. And sometimes it really gets quite lonely. But things don't have to be perfect to make you so happy it hurts.

The thing is, I don't have to deal with a lot of the crap that makes me unhappy at home. There are no stressors, be they social or professional or academic. And that's taught me what I need to cut out of my life now, how I need to develop a better outlook on my future, and how I need to better deal with stress related to school by taking time out for myself to just sit and think and breathe. But even beyond the fact that I don't have any stress here, it's also that I get to learn something new every single day. I'm constantly growing and learning and progressing and it's wonderful and invigorating to feel such a change in yourself and your life.

The takeway for me here is that there are so many changes I want to implement in my life in the States, to add what is needed and subtract what is not and to thus allow this experience and its influence to spread beyond these twelve weeks, beyond this city and country and continent and who I am in it. And I plan to do just that. But keeping all this in mind doesn't make me any less reluctant to go, doesn't make it any easier to let it all go.

But I'll be back for you Madrid. I'll be back before you can forget me and before I can forget who I am here. I'll be back and this timeit'll be for good.

~ V

No comments:

Post a Comment