‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’ ~ George Eliot
It was always my intention on this blog to keep it light, while conveying useful information about our adventures on our move to Spain. Lets face it – the process is fraught. But I was asked after my last post, and by a host of friends, and my Mom, ‘How the Hell did you come to the decision to Move to Spain!’ I thought I had addressed this earlier with my penchant for wine in the early afternoon. But there are other reasons, and if I’m honest, they aren’t as glib.
Moving to Spain for me, represents freedom. The freedom to finally choose. It’s something, real or imagined, that I haven’t been able to do for decades. And something I take total responsibility for. I spent part of the 90’s, all of the 2000’s, and most of this decade being a Mom. And not just any Mom. One that was determined to be the best Mom I could be. My children would be Citizens of the World. And that meant that I provided a lifestyle for my kids based on the ‘I’ll give them everything I never had’ School of Parenting. Not one I recommend – btw. Because once you’re on that train, there are no stops until the final station.
While our children were growing up, I was the top earner in our household. I enjoyed a stellar career – to be envied. From the outside. When my kids studied ancient Greece – we took them to the Parthenon. When they studied geology – we took them to Iceland where the European and North Atlantic plates are born. I regularly worked a 60 hour week in the city, with an hour and a half commute back to the idyllic community where we lived, for my children – best schools, best environment – safest. I took jobs I hated, kept jobs I loathed for years, so I could keep the family train moving down the tracks. I was miserable, and I was tired to the depths of my soul. But I kept going.
Last year, I took a new job in a new city because it was financially a good thing for our family. And every day, of the nearly one year I worked there, was soul crushing. I was doing work that was unsatisfying on every level. I was hopelessly overqualified. It was all I could do to get out of bed in the morning.
In early January of this year, we were in Paris for New Years. I spent the day in bed crying. Not ‘Boo Hoo, poor me’ crying. But ‘I can’t stop crying & I don’t know why’ kind of crying. I was going to have to go back and work at that place I loathed. Supporting everyone’s dreams but my own. I found at 50, I couldn’t do it anymore. Of course, Jeff’s was visibility concerned and he had a solution. ‘Go back and resign. We’ll figure it out.’
So I did. I went in on the Monday I got back and I left my job. It was hard. I was raised to believe hard work was virtuous. That rising up from the place your were born should be the number 1 goal. And mine was a career that paid very well. I knew I was going against everything I had ever been taught. I was getting off the train. I could almost hear my grandparents yelling ‘Stay on the train, or it’s a waste of the ticket!!’
That night, Jeff said ‘So you’re going to go on that walk in Spain, right?’ And I did. With the intention that when I got back, I would go out and, somewhere in the US, I’d get a job like the last one I had, and earn, earn, earn. It’s what I knew how to do. But then I started climbing the Pyrenees, walked through the Messeta, and I climbed up to Cruz de Ferro and left my stone. I spent 36 days shedding every mask I had ever worn.
No one knew me from before that moment on the Camino. They didn’t care about what I did for a living. They just talked to me, and shared their stories and I listened. And I learned, in the long hours of walking alone each day, to listen to myself. When I walked into Santiago and heard the piper, piping that mournful tune, I cried like a baby.
So I came home, and I told my husband that first I was going to write. For a long time, I have secretly written funny short stories on planes (and in some boring business meetings), or in hotel rooms, to pass the time. I had published some of them on Amazon, but it was less than a even a secret hobby. Coming back, I did write my first novel, in less than 8 weeks, after my Camino this summer. It’s ready for the editor!
But I also knew my job wasn’t the only thing I needed to refocus. The city in which we live, isn’t a final destination for us. It was a means to an end, when I took a job. When I got back to the US, after being gone for two months, I had jokingly said ‘Lets move to Spain!’ Not thinking Jeff would take it seriously. After a few trips to visit other places in the US and Canada, he just rolled over one night and said ‘OK. Let’s do it. Lets move to Spain.’
So, the decision to move to Europe was decades in the making. The Camino was just the final straw. But now that it’s here, all that came before is like looking back into the fog. I know what’s back there, but my future is in front of me. And from where I’m sitting, it includes a large glass of red wine and a view of the Mediterranean. Time to have some FUN!