Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Leaving Spain

I want to talk a little bit about my emotions upon leaving Spain. I know that I left nearly a month ago and that I'm already in Japan, but right now my life here is just a jumble of jet lag, hotel living, and general confusion (if you want photographic evidence of that, check out my instagram @meghannbg). But my feelings about Spain are very fresh. When I think of my very recent home, there's a pain there that varies between dull ache and intense longing. I find myself reciting overused platitudes. It's better to have loved and lost. All good things must come to an end.

First day in Spain! The love affair begins!
Here's something that you rarely hear about moving abroad - becoming an expat means risking having your heart broken in two, permanently. You might worry that you will dislike your new home or question your decision to leave your own country or be intimidated by being surrounded by another culture, but what you forget to take into account is the danger that you might fall truly, madly, deeply in love with a place...and then have to leave it. I knew I would like Spain and probably even love it before I moved, but I never knew how much it would become a part of my life, shape my early marriage, become a facet of my identity, nor how hard it would be to move away.

Last day in Spain. Champagning away the blues. 

The morning our household goods were scheduled to be packed, the first thing I said to Graham was "Call the movers, tell them not to come. Let's just stay." And I meant every word. El Puerto had become familiar and beloved, and my house there had become my home. (Sidenote:  Having a beautiful house in southern Spain does nothing to encourage wanderlust. ) 

Of course, there's always the hope of returning, but it won't be the same. Like the quote about the river that you can never step into twice, I can never be the same person I was when I stepped into Spain at 29 years old, just shy of 2 weeks married, full of ridiculous optimism. And Spain will never be the same either. El Puerto, "my" town, will change and hopefully grow. Many of the people who became part of my extended community will move on, as military and government employees must. So, no matter what the future may hold for Spain and I, I feel the need to mourn my time there, but also a need to be thankful for the opportunities and experiences I was lucky enough to have. Because I was so, so lucky.

I will admit that leaving in general is getting more difficult. It was especially tough to say goodbye to family and friends in the States before moving to Japan. But that's to be expected, isn't it? What was surprising was that it was just as hard to leave a place that wasn't my home country.

That being said, I wouldn't change my time in Spain for anything in the whole wide world. If you have the opportunity to have your heart broken in two (or three or four) by another country, I highly recommend it. It's my favorite kind of heartbreak. And you will never be the same, in the best of ways.  

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