I'm not sure why, but for some reason I'll call fate, I studied abroad in college. For a girl who went through therapy in the fifth grade for separation anxiety disorder, I had shockingly little problem saying farewell to my family for seven months and embarking on a journey across the pond. When I say little problem, I'm not counting the twelve hours I spent crying and heaving on the plane on the way over; I think that was probably just the altitude.
Nevertheless, I managed to pull it all together and arrive relatively unscathed to Alicante, Spain. Even after four ups and downs - Houston to Atlanta to New York to Madrid to Alicante - I exuberantly wiped the sleep from my eyes and prepared for them to open for the first time in twenty years.
What unfolded from there is the stuff that books are made of. Heck, maybe what my first book will be made of. I lived with a perfectly dysfunctional host family just down the road from the local bull ring where I caught a bus to the Universidad de Alicante each day. There my newfound friends and I would meet at "La Mano", a huge white statue of a hand - I'm not kidding - and drink little coffees and talk about our wild nights on the town. After language class we would make the trek to the beach with blankets and bottles of red wine in tow, meeting fellow want-to-be ex patriots and watching the waves of the Med drink up the Spanish sand. Just as the sun was near setting we would climb our way to the top of the city's castle and share a moment of silence as we scribbled in American made journals, holding our breath as the sun traveled from over the mar into the mountains. It was every bit as magical as it sounds.
Since those months in Spain during the spring of 2002, my dreams have been haunted by Spanish promises, and my heart is quick to trip on the heavy hole where my Spanish life once resided. It was so hard returning to the states; I remember my distaste for the fast-paced, materialistic American lifestyle. I longed for my days of beauty and simplicity, where the waves whispered to me at dusk and the city drew me out each morning.
I became a whole new version of me. I was alive in an odd and invigorating way. For the first time I didn't apologize for who I was but instead embraced myself and honored my gift at the castle each night. I wrote about longing for my family. I pondered love and finding peace. I let go old wounds. My time in Alicante was an amazingly clear and healing time for me, and I know that is why my Spanish light burns so brightly.
Because when I was in Spain, I finally got to live my life for me. I didn't have to be the Kayla in the context of everyone else. I got to start over in a sense, and when I packed my bags for Spain, I left all my emotional baggage back in Texas. For once, I was able to experience life from the pure core of my heart, and to tell you the truth, it was exhilarating. I got to find that kind soul again...that person that loves to give, loves to laugh, and loves to be spontaneous. I got in touch with that girl that isn't afraid of appearing vulnerable, and I made some really . It was such a freeing experience, and my life will be forever changed because of it.
After my classes were completed, I got an apartment on the beach with some girls that I had met along the way. I had no job, no responsibilities, and no place to be...except with myself. I would sit on the beach everyday and write in my journal...smelling the sea and hearing the waves crash on the beach...and finally, finally...I felt peace. Suddenly I felt myself growing...maturing into this person that was ready to put band-aids on all the little knicks on her heart. I found myself telling my girlfriends of my past wounds and suddenly I was ready to let it all go. As I bled my wounds and cried some of my last tears for these distant tragedies, I was ready to move on.
In so many ways, I think we are afraid to let go of our pains....afraid to cast away the crutches of our injuries...because what happens if we fall? Then we have nothing to blame it on but ourselves. And I was finally ready to take that risk. I wanted to jump for joy...I wanted to scream to the heavens...I felt a huge burden floating off of my shoulders and flinging itself into the sea. I was finally prepared to return to the states, unpack my emotional bags, and begin a life brightened by the Spanish sun.And I think I've done that in so many ways. I know for a fact that my lighter, healthier heart led me straight to Brian, to a functional relationship full of passion and light and laughter and hope. I met a man who lets me pine about living in Spain and who actually considers seriously each plan I contrive for building a life full of sun and sand and Spain.
And now I think we have finally reached that crossroads where the Spanish breeze is pulling me back home. I have no desire to recreate my college experience. It was sacred and complete in its own right, and I would never color that time with eagerly chasing what was. Instead, I'm so ready to create a new truth, this time with Brian. My creative soul yearns for the inspiration and charm of the Spanish culture, and I want to breathe in the aroma of the Mediterranean through a different filter. I already discovered myself once in Spain; I'm ready to discover us. I'm ready to begin this whole new adventure...with Brian studying and me writing. In the spirit of Hemingway I want my first tale to be told under the Spanish sun.
So from the breezy and whimsical to the practical... How am I going to do it? Well, those who graciously listen to me and love me know that I have never lacked in creativity or spunk when it comes to my contrived ploys for returning to Espana. But I think I may be onto something this time.
Brian is currently studying for his GMAT with hopes of being admitted into the McCombs School to earn his MBA. Our grand plan previously was to spend some time in Spain once he got admitted and return to the states in time for day one of classes. We have come up with an even better plan! There are two, count them - two! - international business schools in Barcelona, and Brian will now be adding each to his list of target schools! Which brings the total to 3...one for Austin, two for Spain. I like those odds!
So that's it. No complicated timelines this time. No need for super secret and sinister ploys to obtain visas. Apply to grad school. Get admitted. Go to class. Want to know the real beauty of the deal? When (not if!) Brian gets admitted, I will also be able to obtain a student visa based on being his wife. Here's the best part... The only limitation to the visa is that I'm not allowed to work while we're there for the 18 months. Did you catch that? I'M NOT ALLOWED TO WORK! WOO HOO!
Can you just feel the stars aligning? Trendy new pink laptop for sitting in Park Guell writing my first book...check. Appreciation of fine red wine for sitting in sidewalk cafes...check. Functional knowledge of the language for chatting up the locals...check. Partner in crime for exploring, sightseeing and general adventurous activities...check!
We're going to do it! I have this Mema good feeling about it. So I thought I'd just put it out there to swirl around in the atmosphere and get comfy.
Plan #827 - officially launched!