I feel like Quijote on an impossible quest to prove himself to Dulcinea, only instead of sweet Dulcinea, I’m trying to prove myself to the world and to Spain I’m worthy and good enough.
I’ve been running around this beautiful country for seven years now, looking for myself, looking for my dream guy, looking for acceptance and friendship and a cureall to loneliness and fear and trying to become Spanish.
Instead, I have become an insecure mess, hopping from one place to the other trying to stay afloat financially, unable to settle down anywhere long enough to feel like home (except for that year in València. Valencia was home. I foolishly left it to try to pursue a master at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I was admitted but had no financial way of making it happen.)
Am I about to pick up and move again? Maybe. I’m seriously considering it.
Bilbao is a lovely city on the rise. It has successfully rebuilt and rebranded itself from the “Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Detroit” of the peninsula of the 80s to a colourful, lively city with the Guggenhiem, BBK Live Festival, a brand new San Mames, the most beautiful metro (and Línea 3 is coming! Eventually!) Pintxo bars and happening places all around the city.
But there is a downside to all that. There is a constant rain that even on nice sunny days is at the back of your mind, knowing that the sun has a limited lifespan around the time of a fruit fly. The Basques are the Basques. Not as reserved as advertised, but it is still hard to break in and meet people. Last year, I suffered from some horrible depression and anxiety to the depths of I am not about to go into.
There has been an offer from someone wanting to try to change placements from Ávila to Bilbao. I am debating on trying it. I am facing my last year in Spain, I’m afraid, and I would like to go out on a high note. (More on that in a bit). There are quite a bit of places of and near the Basque Country I haven’t seen yet, and a few places that are demanding a full entry. Is that enough to keep me here? The pay would be the exact same, hours the same, but nearly half the cost of living. There are a ton of places near Ávila worth exploring. And two years later, I have yet to go out and really experience the night life of Bilbao because frankly, who wants to go back out into the rain after walking around in it all day?
There are drawbacks, as Ávila is a very small city, I’d have a longer commute, and there is no gym that has Body Combat it seems. It’s also farther from the Camino, which I hope to get back out on this weekend. I am analyzing all these things, and more.
Today I went on yet another interview for an academy, and I came to the realization that unless it got me back to my beloved Valencia, I’m not sure the stress of English academy work is for me. (Especially when the long hours there barely surpass my current pay.)
I love Spain with all my heart, and I don’t ever want to leave it. However, somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten why exactly. My studies of Spanish have fallen by the wayside. Sure, I have a C2 level and learn new expressions all the time. But my accent gets worse and worse as my jobs demand I not permit a soul to know I am fluent in Spanish. I am so burnt out by constant analyzing myself “Am I speaking English properly? Did I just accidentally mix conditionals in a non permitted by Cambridge way?” that the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is socialize.
In an ideal world, I would be able to live in Valencia and make a living off my writing. I’d have that Spanish, Catalán or Basque husband to comfort me or to accompany me on my travels. I’d have two eager golden retrievers to take care of (after teaching Spanish children at the worst school ever in 2009-2010, I have decided I never want children.) I would be able to canvass this amazing peninsula, the greatest in the world, as much as my heart desires.
In a less than ideal world, I’d at least be able to pursue graduate studies at the Univeristat de València in Hispanic Studies.
I applied to this job very last minute in 2008 when I wasn’t accepted to either of the three graduate schools I applied to. I had spent five years dreaming of living in Spain, and for seven years, I have been living out the dream. A very difficult, lonely, isolating dream that has taken me to unimaginable places.
And in the bottom of my broken heart, I know that ultimately whether I go to Ávila or stay in Bilbao, it’ll be my probable last year in the Greatest Peninsula in the World.
I’m tired of fighting, explaining myself how I *could* change my visa with a contract, tired of private lessons, tired of counting the days between holidays not because I want to travel but because I just don’t want to have to explain why “I is of the eSpain” is not acceptable English (for the record, all my students have had a better level than that! The Spanish DO speak better English than they give themselves credit for.)
Anything can happen. I could meet the boy of my dreams tomorrow. I could win the lottery. I could publish one of my novels which then became the publishing sensation of the century.
But realistically, it’s time to start exploring graduate schools (which does include the exploration of the Univeristat de València), grow up, be an adult and let go of my dream of Spain.
Your regularly scheduled Set Meravelles will return soon!