The Only Constant is….Change

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So the saying goes. It is an entirely other matter for us to be able to accept this facet of life. Something that I think we all instinctively resist at times. Survival mechanism? The familiar is more comfortable? I used to idealize a sense of permanence about my earthly station here. To collect a set number of ‘always-there’ friends, to have a good sense of what it all means, to figure it all out, to have a complete sense of security, to have all the answers, to be a constant Conor…pffft, this ain’t happening ANY time soon. What liberty we receive when we reach this understanding. 

I say this because I found out this week that the gorgeous, God-send of a house that I JUST moved into is being sold. What a shame, eh? It’s about as good as it gets here. On top of that, so much of my next few months are undecided. It’s crazy! Aspects of this situation add a bit of pressure to one’s living, but I kind of love it…it is exciting, it’s exhilirating. All we can do is ‘ride the waves’ (Tom P) and see where they take us. There are five of us as housemates here. One housemate has just bought a house in Sevilla where he is from and is going to set up what I know will be an excellent life for himself there. Another companion goes to a new apartment in Madrid so they will be near by. The remaining three of us would like to stick together. We will see if that shall come to pass. I am meeting a lot of people now that I am here in Madrid and have been very, very busy. I can’t complain. Here’s to the unknown future! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

PS: The only constants I can really think of off my head would be my family (the absolute people whom we must must must give our all to. I am still learning this.)…God….ourselves…maybe our best friends…in general it’s all so unpredictable. We could lose everything we have in a minute. I think this is an important thing to always keep in the back of the mind. 

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Family Matters

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It’s been an appreciation 22 years in the making, but I am one hundred percent confident in the obvious conclusion that it gets no better than your family. I am privileged to come from the stable, supportive family that I have and it would seem intuitive for me to understand just how lucky I am, but it’s something that deepens with my years of life ( life in general seems to strike you more and more with the years, always revealing new things, we’re always learning, it’s fantastic).

Anyway, Mom and Dad were here this week and they brought me the greatest comfort and peace of mind that I could have asked for. I am having a blast in this country. I think the blog is a testament to that. BUT, that isn’t to say that it doesn’t come with it’s difficulties. From the outside it’s easy to think that it’s the most idyllic life in the world, but it doesn’t come with it’s own struggles. If homesickness was the one and only difficulty in this journey (and it certainly isn’t), that in and of itself would be tough. No more details on that as those pangs only hit from time to time, but the result of the parents visit was excellent. They are the most down-to-earth, good-living people that I know and it was so much fun to be able to laugh with them in the way that I can not with anybody else in the world.

We saw Toledo (my third time there!), Madrid, and Aranjuez (the former summer residence of the King). A nice new revelation in Toledo was that I was able to see the Jewish corridor. We went inside a temple that is now owned by a movement of nuns that seek to bridge hurts that exist between the Jewish and Catholic community. She was from Belgium, spoke at least 4 different languages, and presented such peace. She was surrounded by all a ton of impressionist paintings depicting the mission of the movement. It was a fantastic, inspiring conversation. We visited Aranjuez with my boss (is he not the coolest??) and it was a nice pleasant day trip.

Outside of the travelling and site-seeing, it was the fact that I was with the people who have given me everything that I have: my education, my health, my morals, my faith, my humor…for me they are like representatives of God on earth. An interesting way to put it, huh? I truly feel like that captures it though. I love them very much and the things that had been stressing me out prior to their visit seem like pocket change now. I was laughing with them this whole week and although I am sad that they are gone, I am laughing a whole lot again…and it’s just that natural kind that comes from within…sincere and real. I love it!!! God bless them. I will always make sure to bridge any physical distance between my family and I.

Other life news: I am more or less a retired runner now. I had been debating this for the past 10 months (running has been my sport for 12 + years now), but it’s just too stressful for my body unfortunately. Swimming has replaced it and oh how much fun! It feels great to glide through the water and I am actually giving my body a much more complete work-out. I don’t think there are competitions in the way that the running world has 5ks or marathons, but I’ll figure it out. Anyway, I can still participate in the odd running competition.

What else? Ah yes I walked right past Jaime de Marichalar today. Twice just to verify it. He is the former husband of Rey (King) Juan Carlos’s eldest daughter. He was sitting at a cafe off of Serrano Street sipping coffee. Sooo crazy! I love this city!

We Know Him By His Colourful Ties

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Is Fall now descending upon Spain? The month of April has been a mimicry of the weather that I remember from my vists to Ireland. It’s unreal. Rain is here almost every day. The month of March often had some summer-like days, but this April has just been cats and dogs. I kind of like it in a way. It’s comfortable and it has a certain emotional effect on the whole ambience of the country that I find curious and intriguing. Anyway, I am drinking lots of tea and am craving all the Autumn flavored drinks and foods of New England in…April in Spain. Such is life.

It was just brought to my attention that my entire tie collection consists of bright colors and patterns. My colleague joked the he can tell I’m coming from all the way down the hall due to these ties. Very funny actually. The end of my university days pretty much consisted of the same tie-die t-shirt for a couple of weeks straight with my clan of gypsy friends.  Of course I also have more subdued clothing; I have a series of dark ties for formal/serious events. I prefer not to wear them at work. When you’re working with children in an elementary setting, I feel my colourful ties just contribute to the silly character I sometimes try to be with them. It sets a fun, encouraging tone. It also makes me happier during my own work day to see bright, stimulating colours.  How do you feel? What does your clothing say about you? Can you use it to convey yourself in a certain way? How do you do this?

Itchycoo Park

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I think I am going to have to rename the local garden here “Itchycoo Park.” I promise that any visitors that I receive will be taken to said Itchycoo Park. The green, the color, the birds, the windy paths, the waterfalls, the pond, the hills…it blows my mind. It’s all too beautiful. 😛

There is not too much to report about. I have continued with the intercambios and I have been using the rest of my free time hanging out, studying, reading, writing, or watching a movie. It’s a pretty simple life overall. I like it. I have been especially enjoying my time at the school in the past week for some reason. Just a sense of joy for the most part. I know the students pretty well now and you can have a lot of fun with activities. The teachers are all cool people too…lots of jokes and good comradery it seems.

I definitely feel that I have learned a lot from the experience so far. I better appreciate human relationships and cooperating with other people, relating to another culture, teaching children a foreign language, speaking a second language, living independently, paying bills…just a bunch of life details I had not thought about before. Anyway, it’s all starting to come together now…it’s just a matter of piecing together my August and forward….

Mom and Dad visiting in just about two weeks so that is very exciting and I’ll be meeting with someone from NJ whom I haven’t seen in a very long on Tuesday. Many things to look forward to and so with that in mind I am mostly taking it easy on crazy living for the time being and just focusing on my reading/writing and future projects. It’s a fulfilling feeling at least.

And…I’ll succumb and post some pictures of this park! Check out the photos page. Peace for now. Thinking of you all!

Younger Than Yesterday

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I was going to follow up my last two dramatic posts with a dramatic silence, but I’ve just got too darn much to say. I am living in Madrid now, in the Manuel Bacerra neighborhood, and my first week has been really good. The area is gorgeous. There is a lovely park right by the house and I have been there every day, if not twice a day. I find it to be really relaxing and peaceful. It’s great to snap photos in there and get lost in the labyrinth of trees. It’s especially mesmorizing at the moment as all life is just  about completely in bloom. Breathtaking really. Beside the park is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torrespa%C3%B1a. This has me spellbound. It’s just so unique to anything I have seen. The Plaza de Toros is also within walking distance from where I am. There are 5 of us in a spacious two-story house, with two dogs and four turtles (there is a small pool/pond on our terrace outside) and it is a relaxing environment. The arrival of this new house was a God-send.

There is an endless supply of things to do here and every day I am discovering new streets and shops. The big thing that I think I am really going to enjoy are the intercambios that they have in the city. You post an announcement on this website, http://www.lingobongo.com/madrid/, and I have received almost 10 emails from people since posting my one a few days ago. I have met with two of the people so far and they were both fantastic experiences. The two of them had both studied psychology, what are the chances?, and were just very friendly, open, and interesting to talk to. The idea is that you do a language exchange. You spend half of the time in English and the other half in Spanish. Just…very interesting. Other than that, I am just seeking out new sites in my free time as I continue to settle in!

My new setting is more of what I had in mind when I decided I would come to Spain. What I am finding more and more with life is that the more I live, the more I seem to learn. That learning has not ceased to expand my mind to an awareness of all the different experiences that exist in the world. It’s exhilirating because it really dawns on me that there is so much that lies ahead of me that I could not possibly even imagine. The good, the bad, and the ugly.  They all seem to contribute in their own way to the enrichment of the human experience. I guess what I mean to say is that the new living situation has really been a great change and that I am feeling younger than yesterday. Pictures soon.