Archives for category: spain

It starts with the most mundane things: canceling an embarrassingly-underused gym membership, or realizing that there’s no need to renew another year on the public bike sharing card. One by one, the clocks run out on one thing and another, and the invisible rhythms that take hold when you’ve settled in somewhere slowly begin to fall away.

It’s almost imperceptible at first, and then suddenly you realize that you’ve begun to say actual goodbyes to people, and the milestones start ticking past at an accelerating rate. Particularly around the summer months in Spain, the odds are that some people will be away for long stretches at a time, so you say these goodbyes early, all the while realizing that they’re a prelude to your own imminent departure.

Then, before you know it, you realize you’re doing every ordinary thing for possibly the last time, and everything is thrown into sharp focus. This last trip to the pediatrician, the last commute to work, the last meal at your usual lunch place, all suddenly take on special meaning by virtue of their finality. As you begin to detach yourself bit by bit from the machinery of everyday life, an almost weightless feeling takes hold. You imagine that impending 17-hour flight through limbo, momentarily homeless and with few possessions, before landing on the other side and beginning to shoulder the responsibilities of a new life.

For now, though, each little daily routine demands special recognition, as if to say, “this is your life, as it is now, as it will have been. Remember it.” Which is the real point of goodbyes, after all.

You may have noticed that this blog has been fairly quiet for the past few months, at least as far as written posts are concerned. There’s a reason for that, and for once it’s not the standard “too busy to post” excuse. It’s actually because there’s a significant piece of news that I’ve had to keep under wraps for a while, but now that I’ve broken the news to my group at work and to our primary client, I can go public with it here.

After more than 10 years in Spain, we’re moving back to the US this summer. I have a job offer waiting for me in San Francisco, Sofia has been accepted to a kindergarten in Half Moon Bay for this fall, and we’re in the later stages of applying for Amy’s permanent residence visa. Our current date estimate is sometime in late July; that date depends in large part on getting Amy’s visa approved, but also on letting Sofia finish out her school year here in Barcelona.

To say I have a lot of thoughts and reflections about this move is an understatement, and I’m sure a lot of them will bubble up to the surface here. Overall, though, while it’s been an interesting decade-long adventure, it feels good to be heading home again.

From a CBC Interview with Malcolm Gladwell (thanks to Glen for the tip), this thought on the socioeconomic effects of emigration:

Immigrants have complex relationships to their places of origin. By virtue of leaving a country, an immigrant changes not just the country they come to, but they change the country they leave. We always talk about how immigrants change the country they go to; that we can see. We forget that it’s true about their place of origin. By virtue of their absence they leave a mark. If you think about Jamaica, who left Jamaica? Enormous numbers of middle-class people, my family among them. We altered Jamaica, and not necessarily for the better, by leaving. Jamaica lost its educated, its professional class – huge numbers of them – to Miami, Toronto, New York, and London.

Substitute “Spain” for “Jamaica”, and add cities like Berlin, Munich, and Amsterdam, and the same pattern still holds today. When large numbers of those with the drive and the ability to leave do so, what kind of society do they leave behind?