Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Torn American

The first time I had to start thinking about which of two countries to live in was at the end of my “student year abroad” in Madrid. That year was a mind-blower for a twenty year old guy from the suburbs of Los Angeles. I communicated in a different language, made new life-long Spanish friends, explored and enjoyed an exotic city, suffered a lot with homesickness for family and L.A., experienced the frustrations of living in Spain, and as cliched as it sounds, was forever changed.

Then of course there was the Spanish girlfriend. Spain was a different place then, emerging from the Franco era (1983). My girlfriend came from the modest neighborhood of Carabanchel and was an exotic gypsy-looking Madrilena. She thought I was pretty exotic too and she wouldn't have minded taking off to the U.S. with me. But at the end of the year I had to go back to California and continue with three more years of school. So the long-distance relationship began ... and we all know how those end up.

But before the end, we went through countless, "How could this possibly work?" scenarios - or at least I did.

Scenario #1:
"Spanish girl comes to Los Angeles to live. She has to learn to speak English, drive a car, try to go to a university, and be away from everything, and everyone, she knows. American guy has to completely take care of her."

Scenario #2:
"American guy goes to Spain to live. He has to find a job (yeah right! In 1980's Spain?). He has to get a lot better at speaking Spanish, get professional licenses in a foreign country in his chosen profession, and be away from everything, and everyone, he knows. Spanish girl probably will have to completely take care of him."

I decided long ago that living in Spain permanently would not work for me. I could not make a living there, and along with being in poverty, I would never really fit in. And even when I did try to live in Spain for six months at a time or so, I felt like life was passing me by in the states. So I had to go to "Plan B", which was live in Los Angeles and make a living like a regular American, then visit Madrid as much as possible and just get over it already.

It seems to me that to be a proper immigrant you must have no other choice or be absolutely convinced that you love it. You've got to want to stay.... forever.... in your new country, and be happy about it. And if you're involved in a cross-continent relationship, one person has to give up his/her home country - and like it. Otherwise you're just a visitor - like me.

All that preamble just brings me to Bluestreak Blog, an American living in Spain with her Spanish husband. She struggles a lot with these kinds of issues. She also writes about "living in Spain topics" in general and is pretty funny, and cusses a lot too, so that's a plus.

Some good posts:

Nostalgia for Brilliance Realized

Don't Expect a Thematic Post ....

The Whole World

Piecing Together My Habitus

Dude, Do You Not Realize You're all up in Ma Face?

Cosmetological Entropy

Expat Purgatory


Midnight Golfer said...

Nice to see more "like" me out there.
If not for the internet I really would be in expat purgatory.

Carl said...

So Midnight, what do you think? Are you staying for the long haul, or are you in Spain for a set period of time and then taking the family back?

Anonymous said...

Personal insights tinged with nostalgia topped off with an expat blog recommendation. An excellent post all around. ¡Otra! ¡Otra! ¡Otra! :D

Blues said...

Wow thanks. Hey, I've since moved to
Thanks for the mention.