So here I am, sitting on a jam-packed bus to Murcia, as the holidays approach, to meet up with my old roommate from the States, who also happens to be an auxiliar semi-nearby.Tomorrow our winter break begins and we’ll embark on a 16 day vacation going through various awesome places across Europe. This is what I’ve been waiting for, I’ve wanted to travel (and just live in) Europe for so long. But because I’m skipping Christmas and New Years with my friends and family to fulfill this long-awaited goal it comes with a small, bittersweet note. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad, I’m still glad I’m here. Before coming to Spain, for some reason, I actually didn’t think I’d feel homesick around the holidays. And I’m not. But today I’ve been feeling nostalgic thinking about what’s going on back in Cali without me.
And now I’m smushed on this smelly, hot bus, fighting back tears, trying to keep my eyes on the ceiling so that my tears don’t fall down my cheeks. So that I don’t feel embarrassed if anyone sees me, and so that I don’t make these nice, normal people who just want to get home for the holiday, uncomfortable and feel bad for me.
My dad just texted me, something like, ‘it’s okay to feel homesick, you’ve chosen this life of adventure, living a life that most people will never have the opportunity to choose, and sometimes it comes with an emotional price.’ And probably something else encouraging. Anyways, all that is true. I’m doing this because I love it.
The juice is worth the squeeze.
Sometimes when tears come it’s not even that I feel sad, per se, it’s just this particular pang that strikes in my gut when I think about the warmth I’m missing at home.
Sometimes it’s just nice to be in the midst of familiar, the love that is my unconventional family. My Uncle Kevin saying, “Hey Hill” when I come into his kitchen, he’s called me Hillary for as long as I can remember, it started as a joke to tease me as a child, and it just stuck. My mom saying, “my little loved one!” when I walk through the door, and the way she smiles at me so big with her squinty eyes when she’s happy to see me, and hugs me tight. My Uncle Steve making jokes about our crazy family. I’ll miss playing the handslap game with my Uncle Michael, catching up with my Aunt Lois and little cousins, grandparents. And my mom and Aunt Val reminiscing about Friday night dinners when they were kids at my great grandma’s house. The Jewish/Greek/Spanish food she would make, boyoos, travados, pastelli’s, lots of rice I think.
And then just holding my Grandma’s hand, her old skin, soft and pliable, showing her years. I miss her hands. We’ve always held hands. Even the sound of her voice is the sweetest, happiest sound. I always love sinking into my Grandma’s couch, and snuggling up next to her. Even at 28 years old, and just talking about whatever. When I was a kid, her and I used to make cookies, chocolate chip of course, god this memory sounds so cliche as I’m typing it, but we really did this! She picked me up from school every wednesday and at least every couple months or so we’d make cookies. It was our thing. She would get out this little wooden stool and put it next to the counter so that I could reach, and I would step up, ready to work. And by “work” I mean stir a little bit and eat all the dough. Some things never change.
I miss my weird friends. I miss doing Amanda’s hair and her always being amazed at how good it looks even though I barely touch it, haha it’s totally in her head that I’m a good hairstylist. Sitting at her parents house sinking into her comfy couch after some sango sushi, watching reality tv and getting way too into it. I miss dancing like an idiot in my kitchen with Grant and Lauren laughing at us before we go out. Going for beach runs on my boardwalk on Sunday mornings, hungover or not. It was the best. And stopping to take pictures on the extra beautiful days. Which was actually pretty often. I miss Ken and Eric calling me Rachy, Ken’s laugh, his stories, the way Eric’s tongue sticks out a little when he laughs, haha it’s great. And hugs, I miss hugs. Megane Pickle and Jimmy Montanez give the best hugs ever. If I could give them an award I would. I can’t think of anything more comforting. Maybe just talking to Jimmy after a long night, or even before it’s begun, and just know that I am being understood. That I can say anything and he just gets it. I miss Gracie and laughing so hard that I’m either screaming or completely silent because I’m laughing so, damn, hard. You know that part in bridesmaids when Kristen Wiig is giving her speech at the engagement party and talks about communicating with just a look? We actually do that.
I miss walking into my Dad’s office and hearing “Hey RB”, or showing up at home at my mom’s house unannounced and always hearing, “Oh my loved one!’ And then her saying something about not to let the cats out. Haha I know, random. I had it pretty damn good at home. I knew it then, but I didn’t REALLY know it. I remember thinking, I know I’m lucky, and I feel lucky, but I need to really feel it more I think. While I love Spain and I wouldn’t trade this experience for literally anything in the world (I honestly can’t think of anything I would trade it for. Even love. Maybe. I’m not sure. I think that because I have experienced this now, I will be a better partner in life, better when I am in love whenever that happens. I always wanted to see more first, collect more experiences, and have them on my own.) it really gives you perspective. I’m sure being anywhere really far away from home in a town that is drastically different than where you grown up will do that to you. Anyways, despite the fact that sometimes life here can be difficult at times, and sometimes feels as regular as it did back home, I can do things here I would never have access to at home. Like meeting new people and experiencing their culture, learning a new language, taking horseback riding lessons for half the price, learning to dance flamenco, and traveling all over this part of the world. Not to rub it in, but, I am SO glad that I get to do this.