2007-05-07 - 10:01 p.m.
There seems to be a misunderstanding that I would like to clear up. Yesterday when I was talking to my mother she told me that the people she had talked to had told her I would be happier living in Germany because it was more “American” than Spain. To which I just said, “huh”. Because, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about that statement. I did know it made me uncomfortable and didn’t ring wholly true in me, but there was some semblance of truth to it. Many of the reasons that I have had a difficult time here in Spain are a result of things that are different in the United States. Such as, the siesta. As we all know, the siesta nearly kills me on a daily basis and there isn’t a siesta in the United States. So does that mean that I need life to be more American? No. It means I need life that is rational and convenient. And that rings wholly true in me. As far as I know there isn’t a siesta in Germany and that already places it rungs and rungs above Spain in terms of sounding like a better place to live. For me. I am well aware that Spain could easily be the dream habitat for a lot of people and I am glad for that because Spain is actually very wonderful and the people here are very nice and I am glad that some people adore this place and think that I am a total moron for having been a little uneasy here for two years. Because Spain deserves to be loved.
However…for many reasons Spain will never be a place where I could easily live. Even if it were an American state, I could not live here. The climate is totally unsuited for me. I have always adored winter above all seasons and I used to clap my hands with excitement when it would rain. Here, it barely rains and it never snows. Winter was not even cold enough this year for me to wear my winter coat. I am told that Germany has a climate better suited for me. Also, there are lakes in Germany. I am a lake person, not a sea person. These things, the climate and fresh water, are also not “American”…so again, it is not that I need a more “American” place to live. It is that I need a healthier climate. I do not consider parched and scorched to be healthy. For me.
Something else I desperately need in my life is bread and butter. And here is where things start turning to the fact that I don’t need “American” things to be happy and that I am perhaps better suited to live in Europe than I am suited to live in the United States. I have had many a bread crisis upon returning to the United States from France. I mean, tremendous crisis. The inability to find a perfect baguette has indeed made me cry before. (Obviously it wasn’t entirely the inability to find the bread, but more likely the pain of not having decent bread would trigger my sadness at just having left both Eric and Paris across the ocean…but still, I missed perfect baguettes like crazy and to this day my knees melt when I take a bite of a French baguette.) It would take about a month before I could eat any bread in the U.S. again and then I would be happily eating my Brownberry wheat bread or Aunt Millie’s organic wheat English muffins and life would be good. I have had a difficult time with bread in Spain. Most of the bread here is like Wonder Bread. It lacks something serious. The store at the bottom of our hill sells a pretty nice loaf of bread, but by pretty nice I mean average. Average is far better than the crap most stores sell here. I am told that in Germany the bread is phenomenal. In fact, Eric has said it is the best bread he has had and our French friend, Veronique, who was visiting us last week has confirmed this. And not only is the bread in Germany terrific…they actually have whole wheat bread there! !!!!!! I am not sure Spain knows what whole wheat is. As for the butter. I try not to be terribly upset by the butter here in Spain because they have excellent olive oil and I have been spoiled by the olive oil here. I’ve always used olive oil for cooking and for bread dipping and so on…but I had no idea, as an American, that there existed a country where there were more than 3 brands of olive oil ( I think it is safe to say that there are hundreds of brands here) and where it was so inexpensive to buy that you wouldn’t even blink an eye to use it for an emergency furniture polish (which I have done) or to dump a whole cup of it into your bath (also, a from time to time habit now). Anyway, I have no reason to despair the lack of butter here because I am rich in olive oil. But, butter is my favorite food and I miss a nice rich, salty butter. I have found a nice one at a store in Sitges, it is French and made with sea salt and as our favorite bartender, Dave, says, “It is simply gorgeous”. But, it is also extremely expensive and to make a batch of cookies from it would be insane. They have butter in Germany. Good, salted butter. And France has butter that can be eaten without anything else…it’s that good. I cannot say that about any American butter. And Spanish butter tastes like Crisco, not even the butter flavored Crisco, just nasty white Crisco.
I also like wine. Spain has some good wines and they are typically very inexpensive. This has been exciting for me. I dread the day when we return to the United States and I have to spend more than $20 to get a decent bottle of wine. I can get a decent bottle of wine for $5 here. Okay, so usually I wouldn’t serve my $5 wine with an extravagant dinner…but my $5 wine suffices nicely for normal dinners and for Sunday afternoon baths. (I drink it while in the bathtub, I don’t bathe in it.) France has better wine than Spain, in my opinion, but I could live the rest of my life drinking only Spanish wine. I could not say that about any American wine I have tried. In fact, it is horrifying to me to think that the bottle of Opus 1 Eric and I shared one New Years Eve wasn’t any better than a $30 bottle of Spanish wine. Also, Riesling has been one of my favorite types of wine since I was old enough to drink. Riesling is made in Germany. The thought of this is extremely enticing.
I cannot think of one thing purely American that I miss. (with the exception of Morningstar Farms breakfast patties, but since Kellogg’s is such a presence here in Europe I am pretty certain that someday I will see a box of them in a freezer section somewhere on this continent.) I miss people standing in orderly lines, sure…but I am pretty sure it is not a European thing to be completely unable to stand in line. I think it is more a Spain thing. I miss parking lots, yes…but I am sure that there are places in Europe where you can park less than a mile away from where you need to go. Just not where I live at the current time. Parking lots are not purely American either. They might be more prevalent in America…but they do exist elsewhere. I miss taking road trips by myself…maybe someday I will be able to do that here, but for now I am too uncomfortable to do that. I miss health food stores that have more than incense and tofu…and I might find that great health food stores are purely American because I have yet to find a great one in any European country. As for the American way of life…no, I cannot say that I miss it. I am not even sure I ever lived the American life. I’ve never even had a 9-5 job. Of course I want to go home someday, of course. I am an American and I miss my country. I miss the diversity of it and I miss the hugeness of it. I miss my family and even though I have always hated holidays, I miss spending holidays with them. I daydream about that first Thanksgiving that I am living in the United States again. But for now, I want to remain in Europe. Next week I am visiting Germany and after that I suspect we will be making a decision about where we are going.
The point of this whole entry is that no, I do not need a more “American” country to live in. I just need certain things to be happy and Spain, unfortunately, is not a European country that has those things. (but do not misunderstand me, Spain is wonderful)and I am not really finished with the writing of this but I have to finish washing dishes now and I am just posting this because this is the first time diaryland has let me post anything in a week and I am taking advantage of it.
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