2005-10-10 - 1:29 p.m.

So for the last few days I’ve been thinking about this whole ordeal of my life…trying to get to a point where I can speak from truth instead of covering things up from guilt or trying to think the way “I should be thinking”. The truth is that I do hate Spain…I cannot help it. It is a great place to vacation…but for me…I hate it. And not just because it isn’t the U.S. Honestly, I am 98% certain that I would be really happy right now living in France. Because France has things that I love. There is the bread, and the butter and good coffee and decadent dinners and wine and cool, crisp days and GREEN and there is some sort of romantic, surreal feeling I get in my very bones just going about simple tasks like going to the grocery store. Here I just feel dirty all the time, it’s dry, there is no green, the food, with the exception of olive oil and olives, sucks, there is nothing exciting or new about this place…it’s like being in a dry version of Vicksburg except that even in Vicksburg you could drive ten minutes if you needed to get something. I DO love my house, yes I do and that’s probably why I am loath to ever leave it. You know, in France I used to get overly excited just to walk around town and look at things…that thought would propel me from bed in the morning. And I love and am extremely comfortable and very happy with the fact that my cats are not only happy…very very happy, but that they are also with me and there isn’t a looming travel date on the calander. And best of all…me, the boy and the cats are all in ONE SPOT. That is wonderful and I would not, never never never, leave this place if this was the only place we could all be together. But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like it here. I realized that if there were just one thing about this country that I liked…just ONE thing, those little things like the lack of Yankee Candles and Morningstar Breakfast Patties, wouldn’t bother me. I would say, “Well, I can’t get my candles or delicious soy products…but I CAN get this or that here.” Of course I would think about those things that I was missing with longing but it wouldn’t send me into a whirling pit of despair when I couldn’t procure them. Certainly when I was in Michigan the mere thought of a French baguette would make my mouth water…but it didn’t make me fall down on my knees with depression when I realized that no bakery in my vicinity would ever be able to replicate a full fledged, true French baguette. I had other things…I had Morningstar Farms breakfast patties and Yankee Candles…..

I DO feel guilty about hating it here. There are African refugees literally DYING to get into this country…and what would I say to them? Oh forget about your dreams of Spain…stay where you are in your starving country where you can’t get health care or education…you can’t get YANKEE CANDLES OR MORNINGSTAR FARMS BREAKFAST PATTIES HERE!! Is that what I would say to them?? But I can’t help it…I just can’t. This place sucks. It occurred to me yesterday that it’s okay for me to think that way…I am not going to deny it or pussy foot around the issue for the next five or whatever years…I will take my experiences here, I will learn this language, I will relax and work on learning to write, I will lounge in the sun with six cats sprawled around me, I will cuddle with my husband at night and every so often go out with him until the wee hours of the morning in Barcelona…but I’m probably still going to hate it here…you know…if you took a Pygmy and put him in Michigan he would say after six months, “Oh god, I miss my jungle, the trees, the snakes…” And we would say, “What are you crazy?? You can get Yankee Candles here!! And Morningstar Farms breakfast patties!!”

Anyway, I am tired of feeling guilty about things like hating it here…just like I used to feel guilty about hating the fact that I was traveling too much…people would have killed to travel back and forth to Europe twice or more a year and to spend extended amounts of time wandering the streets of Paris or jetting off to other foreign places. But…it got to be too much for me…everything suffered. At the end of it my nerves were shot, my cats nerves were shot, I had no money left, my house had suffered from neglect and I had to sell it for a ridiculously low price (I sold it for fifty five grand and the man that bought it spent a couple months overhauling it and now it is listed for ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!!), I had lost what little skill I had at one point to write because my nerves were shot and I was always in limbo…not to mention that my fear of flying got progressively WORSE as the years went on and so by the end I was getting fucking INSANE with fear MONTHS before an actual flight was scheduled. So whenever I bitched about it…whenever I said, “Oh god, I can’t wait for this to be over, I just want to sit in a chair for six months and not even think about moving,” people were like, “What are you crazy?? I would kill to have your life.” So I stopped talking about it and by the end of this whole thing I was FRAGILE like you wouldn’t believe, just a slightly weird look from someone would make me burst into tears…I had no outlet for what I was feeling…at all, I was spending vast amounts of time trying to make myself feel lucky when all I was really feeling, truly, deeply, was that I was at a breaking point. I don’t want to get to a breaking point about this Spain hate…I don’t want to move, I really, really don’t, moving away from here is not the issue…but I do want to be able to say what I feel. I want to be able to be a pouty brat about the fact that everything about this country seems somewhat stifled. GRANTED, I have not been anywhere yet…I’ve only meandered through Barcelona and the towns surrounding my house are not exactly meccas of “stuff”…but I have yet to see, anywhere, any vestige of creativity or hobby or even anything unique. This was brought to light to me by a recent trip to France for supplies (you know, coffee, bread, butter…)and they had, in the same chain of grocery store that we go here AND in a little “hillbilly” town in France at that, aisles of things like cheap watercolor paints and markers and acrylic paints and hobby materials…you just can’t find things like that here. Maybe I am all fucked up….maybe Spanish people are just plain happy with the way they live. Maybe, for them, working and sleeping and taking their walks in the evening to socialize is all you need. But doesn’t anyone just ever feel like making something?? Ever??? I just find it strange that I haven’t even seen a trace of yarn or anything…it’s frustrating,. I know, I know, I come from the land of Michael’s and Hobby Lobby and JoAnne Fabrics and even my grocery store has a pretty good selection of beads and yarn and paints…and seriously, if I could just find one little store that sold this type of thing I would be okay. I would even be okay if I saw cheap watercolor paints in the grocery store and more than one type of paper. Or a ball of yarn. Something. It just seems to me that everywhere you go here everything is the same. As you get further north there are more trees, more green, but everything is still the same. And okay…so in the U.S. you know that there is going to be a Starbucks everywhere you go….our chains are the same everywhere and for the most part no matter where you live in the U.S. you are going to find the same things…but we also have cool little shops that sell cool things…and there are differences, here and there…I mean, living in southwest Michigan I had never heard of a fried cheese curd…and just on one visit to the U.P. I learned all about fried cheese curd. Driving through France every region has its own things it is known for whether it is just their cheese and wine or maybe it’s their knives or china or caramels or honey. I haven’t seen that here yet…and, like I said, I haven’t been many places yet…but I have not noticed anything unique about the places I HAVE gone here yet. Maybe it’s okay to be simplified….maybe I just need to embrace that, lord knows I could use a little simplification in my life. Anyway…

We spend too much time not being truthful about our feelings. I am done with that. My own Father has turned into this crazy mess of covering his guilt with Buddhism. He should feel guilty about leaving my brother and myself and for halting his father duties…but instead he embraces Buddhism with his every thought and says shit like, “Rinpoche is helping me get rid of my attachments…” (and for christ’s sake…WHO TELLS THEIR DAUGHTER THAT THEY ARE BEING TUTORED IN HOW TO NOT BE ATTACHED TO HER???) he should be saying, “You know, I hated that I left you and halted my father duties, it was just something I had to do.” Because seriously I think the main reason he started really becoming a Buddhist was because he couldn’t handle the guilt of leaving his responsibilities and attachments. I remember once sitting with him on his front deck drinking coffee and he said something like that…something like he regretted what had happened between all of us and that he had wished that it could have been different but he had felt, at that time, as though there were no other choice. And as hurtful as that is/was…I respected him for that and understood exactly where he was coming from. Since that day, I think it was more than ten years ago, he has never been that honest with me again and instead has become this strange creature that talks about attachments and how bad they are. And we all know that this is his way of covering up his guilt and being okay with it. My dad, a few weeks ago, was talking about this cat they got and how much he liked it and how nervous he was that when they moved to their new house the cat would run away. I sympathized with him, because I had that same fear when I moved and he says, “Oh, well, this is a lesson in letting go of attachments.” And I just wanted to kill him, right then and there. I am pretty sure that he is taking this attachment crap a little too far, would any Buddhist tell you to NOT be attached to your family?? WOULD THEY?? I just want to tell my dad to be human, to just say, and honor what he is feeling instead of trying to find ways to cover his guilt and make it go away. I feel guilty about things in my life and whenever they pop up in my head I squalch them, I put them away, I cover them up. I’ve never just said, “that’s just the way it had to be at that time and that space in my life,” about the fact that when I broke up with my boyfriend of five years I did it by leaving a note in the door of my house for him and went away to hide for a couple days. Oh god, do I feel guilty about that. But I also knew, at that time, that there was no other way to actually do it. I knew that if I were confronted with his face I would never be able to utter those words. I knew that if I saw him emotionally strained I would immediately take back my words and I would probably be married to him right now living some sort of congested life listening to him chewing his food loudly and never feeling as though he and I shared a healthy love for one another. Leaving that note and then disappearing for a time was the only way I could have done at that time. I shouldn’t feel guilty about it…because it was honestly the only thing I felt I could do…it was right and no matter how many times I hear, “oh man, you shouldn’t have done that, that wasn’t respectful and it was cowardly,” I still wouldn’t have changed it. No one else was in that relationship with us, no one else knew how it went or what either of us were capable of. I actually think that my leaving that note was better FOR HIM too.

Oh man, I am seriously digressing from the point at hand…So…simply. I don’t like living here. I actually grow to hate Spain more and more every day. Living here. I should say that. I don’t like living here. I do think that this is, by far, one of the best places to vacation in. You have abundant sunshine and cheap everything. You have a party country where staying out all night is the norm. And damn, it’s easy to bring people back presents, you just have to go to any grocery store and pick up ridiculously cheap and delicious bottles of olive oil for everyone. Someday I very well might like living here. Someday when I am living somewhere else it is most likely that I will sigh and say, “oh man, I miss walking by the sea or sitting in my chair with a book and the sun.” But for now I don’t like living here. And in some ways I think that is okay…it’s okay to not like the place you are living in if it isn’t a permanent place. We will be leaving here someday and I will have gained some valuable things, like a different language and there will be another place on this earth that I know intimately. I will have experienced a different culture and way of life and I will be better for it. I’m not giving up on this place and in fact have resolved that I will do everything in my power to make this time of my life productive and useful. I AM happy and I will always be happy no matter where I am because I refuse to waste even a second of my life…but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have moments of depression, of self hate, of frustration or place hate. At the core I am still happy and I still know that this is a really, really fortunate experience for a person to have. BUT GOD DAMN…let me bitch about it when I want to. (and I am saying that to myself because it is only myself that gets pissed off when I bitch about living here.)


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