In the company I previously worked for, every three months the CEO would round up the troops for an event that was equal parts financial progress report and high school pep assembly. I thought that for my blog, I would try to do the same, only without the free beer and half-naked male models chucking T-shirts into the crowd. (Yes, it was professionalism at its finest!)
The fact that this post comes a week after the actual three month anniversary of my arrival is a clever tribute to the tardiness that has become so typical to this blog. Bullshit, you call? Alright, fine.
So, where does one begin in trying to recap three of the most significant and eventful months of one's life? Hm, let's try to break this down to make it a little bit easier on me. The four aspects of my life that are most important, or at least that I spend most of my time thinking about lately are as follows:
Alright, so we have our four L's. And so I shall set forth and begin with the first, this lovely city that I've begun to call home. Barcelona.
Three summers ago, I took out a hefty amount of student loans to finance my first excursion to Europe. Two months were to be spent in Barcelona where I would intern for a pair of independent fashion designers. For the rest of the summer, I would attend a course at the Paris American Academy.
Being a fashion student and a person that watches movies, I was extremely excited about spending a month in Paris. I obsessed over it. I wasn't, however, exceptionally anxious to visit Barcelona. I had seen many photos of the city, but nothing had invoked too much enthusiasm. It was merely an opportunity for me to knock off the internship requirement for my degree and work on getting my Spanish back up to par. My first days in Spain, boy did things change.
It was love at first sight. The city had an energy to it. It was like we were on the same wavelength. The architecture inspired me so much. The beauty here is gritty, gorgeous in a dark, odd and truly unique way. It has mountains, the beach, a vibrant nightlife, it oozes culture, everything I believed a city was meant to offer. Before I knew it I was wishing the two months would drag on forever, Paris could wait. I expressed in my journal a strong desire to come back someday, and make it my home.
The city must have heard my plea. One serendipitous night, after a twisted series of events, I found myself on a dance floor, separated from my friends and face to face with a gorgeous Spaniard with whom I'd eventually ask to marry. I loved the city and in return it blessed me with a modern fairy tale.
So now I live here. Weird right? Well to be honest, it really isn't anymore. There was no sudden shift, it's just something that's happened gradually, but when I think to myself, "I live in Barcelona", it doesn't spark any emotion, any shock. It's just another fact.
In ways I suppose the city has lost some of its allure, but that's just the natural process of things. The honeymoon phase is only enthralling because it is temporary. Perspective changes with experience. But what I love about any great city is its ability to surprise you at any moment by making you feel the magic once again. All of the wonder that turned me on to this place is all still here, waiting for its opportunity to leave me speechless all over again.
I could go on and on about the city itself, but a lot of the thoughts I would like to share will find themselves in the post I plan to write later this week, about my trip to Madrid. Meeting the capital provided a whole new perspective on my new home, and cemented in the sense of familiarity I finally feel for Barcelona.
The above thought goes through my head in various incarnations on a daily basis. Don't even get me started on Catalán.
Seriously, this language is everywhere! It's in all the signs on the streets. It's spoken in the subway. It possesses half the TV networks. It's seriously out to get me. Sure, it's the official language of Cataluña, of which Barcelona is the capital, but I just can't deal with it yet. I'm struggling to grasp Spanish as it is, and here I am unintentionally accumulating a cache of a whole other vocabulary. It's all been very... frustrant.
Back to Ugh. Spanish. As most of you know, I'm a lover of language. I love playing with words and expressing myself in unique ways. I suppose I'm just a writer. In Spanish, I'm the opposite. I'm a fool. I have a very rudimentary vocabulary, which means I'm often redundant. Pair that with my flawed grammar and pronunciation and I imagine I come off like, well, a four-year old... with a mild mental retardation.
I suppose I'm coming along alright. There are two parts to learning a foreign language as far as I'm concerned: comprehension (understanding when others speak) and composition (the ability to express yourselves to others by forming sentences all by yourself). In comprehension, I am improving fairly rapidly. It just doesn't feel like it. I suppose a child with a serious growth spurt doesn't really notice as he sprouts six inches over the course of six months. Some changes are only recognized from a more distant and infrequent perspective. I'm getting desperate to understand everything. As I begin to feel more at home it's becoming more frustrating. How can one be so handicapped in his own city?
Composition is another story. All of that perfect grammar is in this brain somewhere. Spanish was my minor, and I learned how it all works over and over in numerous classes. So where did it all go? Sometimes I feel like the more comfortable I become with speaking, the more flawed my speech becomes. It's like, I don't think as hard while forming sentences anymore, therefore I'm more prone to errors. It's a cruel trade-off. Basically, if I don't start to feel some improvement soon, I'm gonna have to go back to the books. Again I say ugh.
Though I complain, pretty much every one I meet tells me how impressed they are with my Spanish. I eat up every word of it, too, not out of a lust for complements, but to combat the serious insecurities my frequent shortcomings provide. Sometimes I find myself just wanting somebody to tell me, "Hey, you will finally be a fully fluent speaker six months from now, don't worry!" and then I can rest easy. Be it six months or two years, knowing that it will happen makes it a little easier. It will happen, right?
I've been having this reoccurring dream. I'm in class and it's nearing the end of the semester. We receive a report card of sorts, and I discover that I'm failing the class. Then it gets worse. I realize that I'm failing more classes, classes that I'd simply forgotten about and hadn't attended for months. I have no time to get these grades up and I am surely not going to be able to graduate.
The situation, the location, the classmates, all of these details change. But that wretched feeling in my gut isconsistent through all of its incarnations. Finally, after having had the dream three nights in a row, I looked it up in various online dream dictionaries. Here's more or less what all of them had to say:
To dream that you forgot to attend a class you signed up for implies that you feel incompetent and that you will not achieve success in your endeavors. You may doubt your talents, or skills to meet deadlines and obligations.
Since I was five years old I have not spent this long of a period of time without either academic obligation or work. My life has always had structure, and to a certain extent, I've always been aware of and striving for "the next step". Right now, I'm kind of an anomaly. I can't join the workforce, not legally. I saved money for this exact reason, and everything is working out for the meantime. But as a not completely lazy human being, I'm not designed to handle this much downtime. It was heaven at first, but obviously, as the dreams imply, it's starting to weigh on my mind.
All of this free time and I haven't even worked on my book or even properly maintained my blog. I haven't touched my professional portfolio since I've been here. I haven't even pursued any of the things I always wanted to but never had the time for, e.g., learning to play the piano. Granted, I have been keeping busy. David and I have been enjoying making up for the time together that we lost over the previous nine months. We've done a fair bit of traveling, which often requires a fair amount of resting afterwards. But summer is over now, and so shall be my vacation. It's time to start dreaming of something else.
In the next couple weeks, I'll start planning for my next book. While David is sending out his résumé every which way and attending interviews, I'll get started on my digital portfolio. I've even already begun to contact people about tutoring English, which could actually eventually provide a decent source of income if I manage my time correctly. Throughout my life, I've often felt like others believed in me more than I believe in myself. But the times, they are a changing, and I along with them. It's about time to prove them right and myself wrong.
I'm in a very exciting chapter of my life, one in which I'm trying desperately to recall my own identity. This is made an even more difficult task due to the fact that my current situation and surroundings are causing me to change at a rapid pace. So how does one get to know himself at the same time that that self is evolving constantly? All I can say is: not gracefully! But I'll take a life that resembles a jerky, speedy and surprising roller coaster ride over the smooth, slow and predictable ferris wheel ride one day.
Still going strong! David's and my relationship is a truly unique case. I know all relationships have their obstacles, but man! We've still spent way more time apart than together. Most of our relationship has involved a webcam. So much so, that when we were finally reunited this time around, it was somewhat... awkward. What had seemed like such a burden (our Macbooks serving as an intermediary) had become a sort of comfort, without which we both didn't know what to do! Thankfully and without much surprise, we got over it quickly. It's truly an experience you can't comprehend unless you've lived it, and I know not many couples have.
When I proposed to David, despite a lengthy and complicated precursor to a relationship, we had only been "boyfriends" for about two months. Some of my friends thought I was crazy, sure, until they met him. Suddenly everything flipped upside down and they would be making me promise not to hurt him! What we both knew and felt inside transmits beyond us to our friends and family. Despite very distinct backgrounds, we're a match. It's easy to see that we just... fit.
Every relationship has its ups and downs... its hiccups. Ours is no exception. Prior to our reunion, we'd both spent nine months desperately obsessing over the end of seemingly endless tunnel. All we could focus on, despite the best attempts of our loved ones to drag us out of our despair, was the conclusion, the one that would grant us limitless happiness. But like I mentioned before, the honeymoon can't last forever! As could have been expected, once the ecstatic intoxication began to wear off, we were both faced with a question that neither of us were prepared for: now what?
David and I changed a lot over the time we were apart. I hadn't really changed for the better. I had become pretty negative, and for what seemed at the time like good reason. But here I was, exactly where I had longed to be, and so the reason was gone. The acquired mentality, however, was difficult to shake. Culture shock can be a bitch all on its own, but pair that with the anxiety over maintaining a perfect relationship and a perfect state of mind when it is no longer in your nature... let's just say it became overwhelming. I began to close myself off, afraid that my internal fears would taint the relationship we'd fought so hard to preserve. And we all know what happens when your emotions get all bottled up. It was a dark couple of weeks for me. But it all worked out in the end, as it usually does when something is meant to.
Open communication. The trick to any healthy, successful relationship. David and I speak to each other like best friends, sharing everything. It's not good to wallow, but if you don't acknowledge your personal demons, you can't expect them to go away. In the relatively small time David and I have been together, he's proven to me over and over that he can help me, more than any other person ever could before. I can tell him anything and everything, and he always has what it takes to make me feel better, be it words or just an expression of understanding.
Sometimes we frustrate each other, which I suppose is normal. But most of the time we have an absolute ball! I had missed our evenings together so much. Any random night can feel like a party, even if it's just the two of us.
When I look back to that awful goodbye kiss in the airport almost one year ago, when I recall that gut-wrenching feeling like someone was tearing me in two in the most painful way imaginable; I know that neither of us will ever be able to let the other go again. Life is just better together.
So there you have it, the reality of it all. Life isn't perfect. Ever. Period. But it can be, in general, so damn good that it's hard to believe. Sure, it won't seem like it at all times, but it really just boils down to perspective. The perspective I choose to hold right now, in this moment, is that a handsome prince has rescued me and carried me away to live in his magical kingdom where I've been blessed with the opportunity to start my life over with endless possibilities. I suppose I really am in a modern fairy tale after all!