So you excited to come home? my mom asks on our most recent skype date. I stumble over my words as I debate to give a long or short answer. “Ah well, not really. I feel neutral.”
Friends back home have reached out more lately as my return home is nearing. They’ve been asking me about my plans for my last month in Europe, how things are going here as I wrap up my job and life here before hoping on a plane to see everyone again. They’re valid questions and good conversations to have as I prepare myself mentally for a big transition but I feel neutral. I’ve admitted before expat life isn’t all pintxos and vino but with anything in life there are goods and bads, happiness and frustrations. I travel, I meet new people, I try new foods and one of the best parts, I work 20 hours or less in a given week. A dream, except the work isn’t gratifying. They say life is a balance and you can’t have everything, which has been true for me so far, but I’m a believer that one can have everything; it’s just a matter of believing and making choices.
But despite 8 months of ups and downs and knowing I’ll return home when the calendar marks June, I’m left feeling indifferent, uncertain, neutral and naturally, with a bit of fear and uncertainty. Transition. It’s here.
Transition always breeds uncomfortable feelings.
The unknown is scary. It’s exciting. It’s full of questions and what-if’s. And just like a year ago, when I wondered what direction my life was going to take, despite all my good intentions, planning and putting one foot in front of the other, I was lead back to Spain, ahem, Basque Country. In my dark moments of doubt, I reassured myself with the fact that in less than a year I’d know more about myself and know how the year went. I just had to commit and go through with it. Maybe Spring time is simply a time for reflection and changes, new opportunities and perspectives. I’ve come along way despite being back in the uncertainty chair.
What comes next? Where will I be in 3 months?
All questions that can only be answered in time!
This year abroad I’ve learned a lot and I’ve been feeling ready to return to the States to focus on my interests, create community and have a “nest” to call home. I haven’t fallen in love with Vitoria in the last 8 months and despite traveling a lot within Spain, there have only been two places in the Iberian peninsula that I could see myself living in: San Sebastian and Bilbao, both in Basque Country. The only thing I don’t care for is the grey sky and rainy weather. But my main reason for not reapplying to this easy-peasy job is because I don’t want to stay in Vitoria and I don’t want to start from zero by changing cities, which leaves me with one option: Move back to the Bay Area. I would love a place that’s mine (if I’m lucky) where I can have all my “stuff” and photos from my travels on the wall. A place I can stay for as long as I want and jet off for the weekend, 3 weeks or where ever life leads me when I fancy. Dare I say it, a slightly more settled life!
Back in March, I began preparing myself for my return home by checking out job boards, honing my resume and even sending a few job applications to organizations I’ve been fond of through the years. Surprise surprise, I haven’t heard back from them. The never-ending joys of applying for work.
But something’s changed since my travels with my mom and a few side trips since then, I haven’t felt compelled to job search or really think about what my summer and fall will look like. How do I expect to look/find work when I’m 3,000 miles from home without the right frame of mind nor the spirit? (Distance isn’t the issue, but it doesn’t help).Maybe it’s because I know I’m soon to say good-bye to a beautiful region I’ve called home. Good-bye to being “almost” fully immersed in Spanish on the daily when I know I still have a lot of room for improvement and I’m not sure when I’m returning to Europe.
Good-bye’s aren’t easy.
Just figuring out how I want to spend my last month in Europe has been a challenge. Every day I feel different. And you know what, sometimes I wonder if 3-4 weeks is sufficient? There are so many possibilities and places to see. I’m being reminded on the daily how quickly we can change or see life through a different lens within a short matter of time!
Shoulds creep in. Should’s to apply for work while I’m still abroad because the process can take a while. Shoulds to start networking. Shoulds to be in touch with contacts and previous colleagues letting them know I’m coming back.
But you know what; this time around I’m ignoring those shoulds. Should’s are one of those nagging ideas that we allow beat us up but don’t move us forward or make us feel good.
So instead of getting ahead of myself about how life is going to be in California when I return (which most likely will be very different from how I think it will) I’m focusing on today. I’m enjoying my last week in Vitoria before I return again in June. I’m enjoying (slowly) figuring out my travel plans and enjoying this moment of uncertainty and excitement.
Where is life going to lead me next?
It’s anyone’s guess.
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