Un segundo año


Lou and I were invited to join some Spanish families for a picnic on Sunday (unfortunately Pete missed out because he’s back in the U.S. working). Don’t be fooled — there were many other picnickers in this popular park near Granada, plus a group of people doing a professional photo shoot with dogs (!!).

Many times over the past few months I’ve wanted to post something here, and didn’t. Finally the urge to write has overcome distractedness and busyness and the lazy lure of the New York Times.

We are more than a month into our second year in Granada, and I write that with disbelief and precocious nostalgia. Time seems to be passing so quickly.

Year two has been different from the moment we touched down in Spain. All the energy we put into figuring out how things worked and where necessities were last year is going, this year, into venturing beyond the center of Granada and looking for more ways to feel at home. Our neighborhood and school community now feel as small as they’ve likely always been, so out of boredom we’ve been walking different routes—lucky for us, the Albaicín is a warren of streets. Soon after we arrived I walked into an eyeglasses shop and ordered new frames and lenses with a confidence I simply wasn’t able to muster last year. And recently I took the bus to a big grocery store that I had previously avoided, thinking it sounded too “American” (I am shaking my head at my own silliness); lo, I can get fresh cilantro and hot peppers and black beans and cheddar cheese anytime I want. Lou, under loving pressure from his parents, is taking a hip hop dance class where he doesn’t know anyone. Tonight I’m starting a year-long Spanish class, which meant hiring a babysitter and thinking through how to bike across the city, among other things.

I’ve also thrown myself into organizing at school: hiking club, parent volunteers for English classes, and the thankfully now superfluous “hygiene team.” It’s become clear to me how much I need to feel relevant and a part of the community.*

What I call an identity crisis continues, but I’m trying to trust Spanish speakers to know that I’m not as socially clumsy, obvious, or slow to learn as I think I sound. I am a broken record: language learning as an adult is such a head game!

With a little perspective I’m able to appreciate how fortunate we are to face the good and sometimes fun challenges of living in Granada. All three of us are happy to be back.


*I now get in a more personal way why all adults need access to dignified employment.

2 thoughts on “Un segundo año

  1. valeriespahr

    Sounds so exciting Ellen…what a great reflection of past year and present! You go girl!!
    BTW: Joan & I are both retiring the end of the year!!! can you believe it…it is going to be so crazy around here in all so many ways that I have come to peace that I am ‘ready’ and cannot ‘save the world’ one piece of artwork at a time anymore…..

  2. Linda Omark

    Yes! After almost two years of retirement, I realize I spent way too many years working for a paycheck (support for my family) and not doing what felt good and relevant and rewarding in a nonmaterial way. I am able to do this now, through volunteering. I am so much happier with my life. You are very fortunate to do what you and Pete are doing.


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