Moved by Moving

Leaving home gets harder and harder every time I do it. And I’m always asked, “Why do you like living abroad?” and “How do you do it?”

After years of thinking about it, I finally found some potential answers, thoughts repeated in my mind if nothing else.

I have developed a deep, deep passion for the world. I’ve had it for years, and I’m guessing I always will. It keeps me going and partly blinds me from the pain that I inevitably feel when I leave. This world just has so much to offer. There are so many people and lessons and activities and views to meet and learn and do and see. The fact that all of this is available and waiting is pretty insane to me and I can’t miss out. Long ago I told myself I would see as much of the world as I could and this goal is never-ending and doesn’t get easier the older I grow, but until that promise no longer serves me, I must go and go and go.

I look around and think to myself that the reason life is so wonderful is because we get to choose. Sure, there are some givens, but at the end of the day I hope we can all recognize that we have the power to change what surrounds, consumes, inspires, angers, and pushes us, simply by making different choices. Sometimes I look at the places I spend most of my time, at the things I own and use, and at the people I share my days with. When I see each of these truly, I am able to trace back to the moment I let them in, and more importantly, the moment I let them stay. Through this consistent practice I’ve come to the understanding that I am allowing what and who surrounds me. When I leave home, I recognize fully that it is my choice, and that there is no one else to thank or blame for what I see when I open my eyes.

I love home. I love coming home and I love being home. I love the place I get to call home, and the people from home that I get to keep in my life regardless of whether I’m physically there or not. I treasure this place so deeply because I only get to have it sometimes. At this point, many places feel like home, and I can’t afford to take that for granted either. But home has always been people for me. It just so happens that a large percentage of the people I love are in the same place, and for that fact alone, I love home.

I crave stories. How else would we learn and grow from each other if we didn’t share them with each other? Most anything we say or exchange in conversation, on social media, through music and film, while people-watching, and when we lie awake at night thinking about our day, is a story. They are being shared in different ways, selectively, and again we can choose and craft them how we want to. Anything that happens to us is one story, and the way we choose to see it once it’s done or tell it when it’s over, are other stories. Every place I go gives me another story to tell, and many to listen to. At any time I can draw from this archive, and I can learn.

I like being uncomfortable. I like placing and finding myself outside of the zone I would describe as “comfortable”. I like the rush of new environments and unfamiliar ground. I like how it feels to know that time is all it takes to adjust to most change and most difficulties. And I know from experience, that when we are uncomfortable, we are growing. It’s easy to stay, but I prefer a little bit of pushing my boundaries if it means expanding my growth as a human through the days I have been given. I don’t like leaving because it’s uncomfortable, I like leaving because of where it gets me. So, here I am again, getting through the uncomfortable changes to find what is waiting for me. And something always is.

Every time I leave home, I cry at the airport while waiting at the gate for boarding. It’s never because I want to stay, but because leaving doesn’t feel as good as arriving. The last few months I spent at home have been everything I’ve dreamt of and more. I am so grateful for all the time I got to share with so many people, all of whom I consider myself lucky to know and connect with. I’m thankful for all the food that I got to eat, and that I am always missing when away. I know that home isn’t everyone’s favorite place, so I know my luck for all that it is, to have been brought to a place that fills me with good love and good memories, each and every time.

 

 

Advertisements

Life is a pizza pie

This past weekend, I met up with some friends in New York City where we had a mini Sevilla reunion.  I was so impatient and excited on the train ride into the city I found myself smiling while looking out the window, and all the way until I reached Herald Square, where I found them.  Initially I figured that everyone who passed me thought I was crazy, and then I remembered I was in New York City, and everyone is crazy.

When I saw them sitting in the sun in the middle of Broadway, my heart leaped and at that moment I knew my smile wouldn’t be going away for a while.  We spent the day reminiscing about the time we spent together while abroad, and we also spent it making new memories.

c72760f6e11c11e2bcee22000aaa0a82_7

Study abroad friendships are like no other.  And when I say no other, I mean no other.  These relationships form extremely fast and you learn whether or not you are able to trust a person very quickly.  They form so fast that withdrawal is often a symptom after separation.  Take for example a certain someone (No, not me.  But this is a true story.) who booked a one way flight to a certain somewhere across the country to visit a certain friend from abroad–and we’ve only been home for a month.

Hours of traveling and finding adventure together make it so that everyone’s life story is told at one point in the semester.  I know all about my abroad friends’ past and present relationships, friendships, families, school-life, and home-life.  I know about their schools, what they want in the future, who their celebrity crushes are, etc. etc.  With time, I get to know for myself what their comfort zones are, and breaking out of ours together is one of the best things about being abroad friends.  We grew, and continue to grow together, and towards each other.  From the first awkward introductions we had at orientation to the depressing goodbyes and sobs we shared on our last night together, it has been quite the ride.

If I were to tell the honest truth, sometimes I feel closer to my friends from Sevilla than I do to some of the friends I’ve had since I was ten.  The things a friendship goes through in Sevilla (abroad in general) are magical, and I couldn’t be happier to have these people in my life.

Spending 5 months in Spain, in a new unfamiliar city, with people who began as strangers has had a big impact on me.  It showed me just how quickly you can let someone in.  There were plenty unbelievable love stories about students who fell in love with locals; students who ended up changing their flight to stay longer, and locals who came to visit their significant others Stateside.  It’s incredible.  Until January 27th, I had no idea of the existence of these people who I now talk to on the daily–people who I couldn’t imagine my life without.  I’m so lucky.  To think that just a few months ago our paths had not yet crossed seems almost impossible.

   

Why impossible?  Well, impossible because the last few months would have been completely different.  Who knows if I would have been this happy if it weren’t for the people who gave me the reasons to be?  Once I got on the bus to the airport at the end of the semester, I knew that no one would know what I meant if I said “Ah-Pee”.  No one would accept the excuse “Sorry I’m on Spanish time” if I was late.  No one outside of our group would understand my craving for a jarra of tinto, or a Cruzcampo.  No one would know much of any of the things I wanted to talk about.

Someone I know who studied abroad warned me about coming home.  They said, “Just be prepared for no one to really care about your stories.”  Um…ouch?  That was a little rude.  It stung.  And the sting lasted for a while, because it happened.  People asked what my craziest story was or what my favorite part about being abroad was.  But no one listened or wanted to listen to the simple things that made my semester beautiful.

They didn’t ask how many sunsets I watched in how many countries, and what songs we listened to during those sunsets (Love Like A Sunset Part II by Phoenix just by the way…).  They didn’t wonder what Tuesday nights were like at Alfalfa.  They didn’t have questions about my friends and what they were like.  And they definitely didn’t think that I had a favorite tree in Sevilla that I cared so deeply about.  They just didn’t inquire about any of those things.

Then one day I realized.  It was our little slice of life together that I’m really okay with no one else knowing about.  You know what they say.  Lo que pasa en Sevilla, se queda en Sevilla.