Re-Integration Frustration

I find myself so conflicted about the return home. Granted, I’m only going to be home for two months before heading back to Spain, but I think that’s what contributes even more to the torn feelings I’m experiencing.

I mean really, Spain has been my home for only the past year, whereas the city that I call home has been my home for 26 years. So…I’m going home, but really only for vacation, before heading back to my new home.

Thing is, is my new home really my new home? I can’t help but feel like in some ways it was just a romantic year abroad. When I thought about what my year would be like, I didn’t think about laying down roots, I just wanted to travel, gain some experience, and see what it was like. And as hard as it was to be rootless for a year, and as much as I was craving going back to my roots in NY, ironically now that it’s happening, I’m realizing that I was beginning to lay new roots in Spain and that maybe, I’m leaving home behind. I’m leaving home to go home. Does that make sense? It sure as hell doesn’t to me.

I’m anxious about what re-integrating into the rat race will be like. I started work the day after I got back! (Gotta make that cash money when you can. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that side of the NY city hustle.) Getting back to cramming myself onto the train during rush hour, hearing a handful of different languages on the way to work, seeing people from all over the world. Living in a small town with only Spanish people has made me even more exponentially excited to see diversity than I already was. What’s it going to be like when I remember what it’s like to be able to go shopping at two in the afternoon, or on a Sunday buy groceries that you forgot to get? What’s it going to be like to not have to chase waiters down for the bill? What’s it going to be like not being able to take a weekend trip to a whole different province, or drive halfway across the country in a few hours?

There are things that I look forward to getting back to, but mixed in there are feelings of reluctance and hesitancy. Will I be sucked back into the career mode/adrenaline/semi-robotic mania of work, work, work and ponder why I squandered a year chasing my romantic notions of living in another country? Will my mind change about going back to Spain? Or will I be able to reflect from a less stringent point of view and realize all of the great things that I accomplished there and want to go back for more?  And as much as a I complain about Spain and how certain things annoy the crap out of me, I know that there will definitely be things that I miss.

I think tied into all of this is this inability to live rooted in reality due to a chronic tendency to over-romanticize events. For example, my last two weeks before heading back to the States, I was incredibly fortunate to do a road trip with my Spanish boyfriend around Andalucia, mainly along the coast. Play romantic, lovey-dovey music while you read the following: We woke up on a lazy and sunny morning to the sound of the ocean waves gently hitting the shore. As our stomachs began to rumble we threw on our bathing suits and flip-flops and wandered around the town in search of a place to eat. After heading down a stairway that led to the beach we stumbled on a café with a terrace overlooking the ocean. We ate a lovely and typical Spanish breakfast: fresh orange juice, tostada with tomato and olive oil, and café con leche. As we happily watched the waves come in, we decided to take a walk up the sand dune in the distance. It was a long walk and a tough hike up the dune, but well worth the spectacular views.

As we made our way down the dune hand in hand reveling in the beauty of our environment and I thought about what I would tell my friends when I described my trip, I could hear them ooing and ahing in my head, and I could hear how romantic and lovely and gooey the story sounded. So…why wasn’t I feeling all gooey on my own? Why wasn’t I sighing with sheer happiness and feeling this deep sense of magic in the moment? I mean, isn’t that what romantic situations are supposed to make you feel? A feeling that you’ve never felt before because it’s atypical from the daily grind and looks like what it would be like in a movie or in a romantic novel?

That’s where I got it wrong. By over-romanticizing this idea of long walks on the beach, you turn the reality into something that it’s not. Music does not play in the background, you don’t sigh and stare into each other’s eyes for a long period of time silently communicating your endless amounts of love for one another, you don’t frolic along, accidently stumble, but then somehow roll towards the shore in each other’s arms and start making-out till a wave hilariously comes up and soaks you with water. And you shouldn’t expect that to happen. Rather than thinking about what romantic situation should/could/you want to happen, you should be happy with the reality. We make it out that reality is a lot harder than it actually is sometimes. It’s easy to complain, it’s hard to be happy. Really, how long does it take you and how much energy do you use up to rant and rave about how someone did this/something turned out that way/if only we did this, versus joyfully sharing a happy memory? It’s so easy to get snatched out of our reality and escape into movies and television series and living vicariously through others because it seems like their lives are so much better…but why is it so hard for us to be happy with living simply? Relishing the first sip of a hot cup of coffee, enjoying the feel of your partner’s hand in yours as you walk down the street, taking the time to fully enjoy your meal and the company that’s with you…Those are all beautiful and romantic things too. Simple yes. No lights, no music, no slow motion kissing as the sun sets in the distance…but they can be romantic as hell nonetheless. It’s just up to us to live in our reality. And realize the beauty of life for what it truly is.

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