My New Years Eve was low key (like most of the holidays I have had here in Spain). I think due to the fact that everything is different, just taking out the trash is still a cultural experience, I do not feel the pressure to do something spectacular on the holidays.
DH and I ran errands in the morning, then went out to an local Argentinean restaurant that is in our fancy neighborhood. It was La Vaca Picada, it was good, close, fancy, and less expensive then I thought. Coming out of the restaurant we decided to go for a walk in the park. I love the golden sunshine of a winter evening in Madrid, and to be honest it has not been very cold here making it good walking weater.
We did not make it all the way to the park as hoards of runners in white shirts were heading the other way and curiosity got the better of us. A lot of the runners were festive and dressed with a nod to the holiday season.
San Silvestre Vallecana, a famous 10K. Famous was right there was thousands of people there. The race seemed to be starting down the hill by the stadium, this was at the top of the hill, where for some reason runners were milling around waiting to start too. I wish I would have had the courage to capture more of the costumes, they were a spectacle!
This is what I mean by not having the urge to seek something memorable to do for any given holiday. This day is memorable on it's own. There is always the unexpected here. I mean this race took place 5 minutes away from our apartment, and the festival air was palpable.
DH and I spent most of the day doing an "end of year re-cap", something that we had not done for a long time. We move a lot, and big change every 1-3 years is normal for us, big this year has been one for the record books. So as an effort to record it...
2011 in review:
January - We found out last minute that DH was not going to South Africa for 6 weeks to study Meerkats on the 6th. I was unemployed (still) and unmotivated to look for a job as I was sure a move was emanate (this was just a feeling not a truth).
February - We found out last minute that DH WAS going to South Africa for 6 weeks to study Meerkats on the 14th, happy Valentines day to us.. We got ready for his trip as if in a dream. I did not actually believe that he was leaving until the night of the day he left. I was still unemployed and very depressed. I spent most of the rest of February completely withdrawn and alone. Most of my contact with the outside world was a daily e-mail from DH, and usually, a 5 minute phone call from him. It was not a time I was proud of or want to relive.
March - The first half of this month was much life the last half of February. We spent DH's birthday on different hemispheres. Then I went to check the mail one day and found a letter in French addressed to DH. He got an interview for the CNRS for the last week in March and they let him know by SNAIL MAIL! I spent a frantic couple of hours trying to get a hold of him, and finally realizing that I would have to wait, and I sat down with google translate and painstakingly translated the letter.
Things got very busy for me starting that day, for the rest of the year.
The next few weeks were a blur. We tried and succeed, to change the interview date (DH was in the middle of nowhere SA and need to be there as long as possible).
We agreed that I should to europe on this interview as I had not gone the previous two times (and I was going out of my mind by myself), and I sat down to try and plan a complicated trip. I changed flights and wrangled things until DH and I where flying into Paris within 10 minutes of each other. We would meet in Paris, do the interview, Spend a day exploring, and then take the train down to Montpellier. Montpellier was were we would be living if he got the funding and we figured we should see it while we were all the way in Europe. Then we would take the train to Barcelona and see the in laws for the first time in 3 years. We would than fly out of BCN together, back to the States.
All this was planned to a "T" and I was studying French like a crazy woman, when we got the news.
It was a perfect storm.
Looking back I am not sure I would have moved if this exact sequence of events did not happen.
- We found out that if DH stayed at Duke he would have to be in South Africa for 6 months at a time.
- We found out he got an 18 month grant to go and work in Madrid.
Please remember that all of these plans and options were discussed in a short daily email (when he had power) or during a 5 minute phone conversation that he made with standing out by a dirty pond, the only place he got cell phone reception (when it was not raining).
The 18th month grant had a previously picked start date (picked in November 2010 by both of us) of March 1st. We found out he got the grant March 15th. The grant comity was late and was granting us a start date of April 1st instead.
We were meeting in Paris on March 24th, and flying back from Barcelona on April 4th.
We started the process to push the start date to June 1st.
I continued to French, knowing that I would be living in Spain, and seeing my in-laws soon. My husband is tri-lingual but stuck in the wilds of SA with no real resources to study so it was up to me.
We flew to Paris, and had a European vacation less than two months before we had to move to Europe.
The whole experience was very surreal.
April - The first four days were spent in Barcelona, then we flew back to the US and had 7 weeks to shut down our life there and move "across the pond". I went trough every single thing that we owned evaluating it's "worth" and wether we could replace it easily in Spain. We sold or gave away all of our furniture, most of our stuff, and our two cars. We got moving quotes, picked a company, and started buying boxes. I speedily renewed my passport. We made a very hard decision to not store anything in the States, and to not fill out overseas paperwork for DH's green-card. I bought Rosetta Stone Level 1-5 and studied for hours a day when I was not packing and getting rid of our possessions.
We were going to Europe on an 18th month grant and a prayer (that we coudld stay). All of the job opportunities for DH recently were mostly in the Europe anyway.
May - the start of May was a continuation of April, but more frantic. We were running out of time. There was no time to think really, which was probably just as well. I started saying goodbye to my country and my friends. I finished up a wedding shawl for a friend for July. We got the cats set to fly internationally. We booked plane tickets for all four of us (two cats and us) for the 24th of May.
We got up on the 24th of May early, and started throwing the remaining things out of our apartment. Then we got a text that our first flight was canceled and all hell broke lose. We needed to leave that day, everything was planned, we threw out our mattress!
After being on the phone for 45 minutes we finally got a flight our that day for all of us (cats had to be on a separate ticket) that meant we had to leave in 10 minutes (animals have to be there at least two hours before the flight or they are not allowed on the flight).
We had to leave in 10 mintes!
Luckily most of the work was done, and I had my friend Sarah - who graciously offered to throw out the remaining stuff in the apartment and return the apartment keys. I will be forever grateful.
We threw 200 pounds of luggage in the SUV we had rented, and the cats in their very large airline carriers (it barley fit), and sped but only a little as we could not afford to be stopped, to the airport.
That is the state-of-mind that I left my country in.
When we got to the airport in Madrid it was a living hell getting the cats back, and I will leave it at that.
We rented a studio apartment for the 4 of us for one week and started looking for apartments.
The rest of the months are documented on the blog, but here is a synopsis.
June - Was a month of paperwork, studying Spanish for 3-4 hours a day, and a blur.
July - Was for settling in more, and studying Spanish for 3-4 hours a day
August - Studying Spanish for 3-4 hours a day, getting used to Spain, My SIL visited, and my 33rd birthday.
September - This month actually got a little boring for a while, it was kind of nice. I studied Spanish for 3-4 hours a day
October - Finally here I have my Residency appointment scheduled (from 4.5 months ago) for this month, on the 18th. After I got my card I could look for a job! I went to my appointment and did not have everything, I was rescheduled for November 4th.
November - Got my permanent Residency number and within a week got a job! Had to deal with a lot more paperwork, including 3 trips to the SS office. Got trained for my new job, just a little bit, and started.
December - crazy 80 hour work weeks while I prepared and tried to get used to my new job as an English teacher.
What a crazy year!