Friday, October 14, 2016

Taking the Fork in the Road

In my entire three years of writing this blog, this has got to be the most painful one to write. Because after starting this blog with my decision to uproot my life in Canada and move to Spain, and after having felt that I'd become immersed in Jaén and would be continuing to live there, I've actually decided to stay in Canada after all. The decision wasn't easy. It was something I'd thought about and agonized over for many months, and after a series of unfortunate events in Spain, it made sense to return to the comfort of home.

My last few months abroad were a bittersweet ending to a story. Most people who leave the auxiliaries (NALCA) program throw grandiose going-away parties, have a thousand tearful goodbyes with friends, and visit as many European cities as possible before returning home and saying goodbye to cheap airfares. That wasn't how I ended things. Many months ago I wrote that I'd been involved in a serious car accident. In the aftermath, I became a bit reclusive and did not develop as many friendships in Jaén, because I wasn't in that mindset. Of the few friendships that did blossom, almost all ended because they were auxiliaries who left once their contract ended. I stayed on and therefore spent the last several weeks in Jaén sadder and lonelier than I'd ever been in a long time.
My last night in bar Guzzi.
Of course, I visited friends in Madrid and Villacarrillo, to express how grateful I was for their support and kindness. For me, not knowing when I'll ever see them in person again is such a horrible feeling. It's hard on either side of the fence: when I left Canada, my friends here were sad to see me go. Now, it's my Spanish friends who are sad, as am I. Because of the auxiliary program, I ended up living in a pueblecito and a city "in the middle of nowhere", and met so many people with whom I had an amazing connection, despite me coming from a large, cold, Canadian city 8,000 km away.

If I'm to be honest, my re-entry into Canada has been a mixture of relief and horribleness. Relief to be with my "family", a.k.a. my closest friends, again. I missed them terribly when I was going through my difficulties overseas, and they have lovingly welcomed me (and my cat) back with open arms. The freedom to eat alone at a restaurant table if I want, not feeling like an alien walking on the streets, the career and lifestyle opportunities available to me...it's fantastic being back home. Actually, one of the coolest things that happened was back when this journey started, I was afraid of leaving my old t.v. career and not being able to return to it. When I came back this summer, I managed to land the exact same job, but with a competing t.v. station. I'm receiving a higher salary and have a better work schedule to boot!
Work work work work work....
On the other hand, many times I still cry, missing my friends in Spain, the sun, the plazas, the quaint streets to walk in, the beautiful scenery of olive trees, speaking Spanish every day, laughing with my dear friends...re-entry has been very hard for me, but I knew that my friends would help me out, which is why a return home made sense. I needed comfort, and it's here.

But coming home hasn't meant I've stopped traveling. I see Canada with new eyes. Now, I feel differently about my hometown, because I am different. Things have changed since I left, and it's been a riot seeking out new places to enjoy. In my city, I've been able to find a boatload of opportunities to practice Spanish as well. In fact, I'm studying in the Spanish translation program at the provincial university. My career goal? To work as a translator and interpreter to help those in need. Currently, I'm training to be a volunteer Spanish interpreter for the Red Cross.

Long term, I hope to take my new career skills on the road. When I moved to Spain, I got bit by a restless travel bug, and there's no vaccine for that! It's very possible I'll be moving again in a year or two. I can't help it, this world is too big not to explore. It's been an intense three years, and there's more years to go. May as well pursue all that is possible, so that when the end of the road comes, I can look back and say, "Yeah, I did that."

May the roads you take be just as satisfying.

Love,
AL

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