Ian asked me tonight, as we sat out on his back patio drinking vodka and eating leftover spaghetti (what else) how I was feeling about going to Spain. Everyone asks me this with the same tentative approach they might ask someone who had recently lost a loved one to lung cancer. Their tone suggests a fear that if they say the wrong thing or express too much interest, they might remind me of my deep and abiding anguish.
They know me so well.
Fond of curling into the fetal position and leaving the blinds open all night while staring blindly at Lifetime TV when faced with change or risk, I am an emotional potato bug. This newfound angst-free facing of a cross-Atlantic move takes some happy adjustments.
“I feel like the important part is getting there,” I told him. “That’s the hard part. Once I’m actually there, well, I guess it’ll just be… fun.”
I sipped the vodka he’d poured into the shot glasses he’d found on one of his scrounging missions working for Habitat for Humanity’s thrift store. Mine sported a dancing mule and the slogan “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Setting the glass down, I added, “I don’t usually do things just because they’re fun. In fact… I’ve never done things because they’re fun.”
Look at the evidence. I took the test again to get into the seventh grade honors program after failing the year before, not because I wanted an impressive report card for high school, but because taking the regular English and social studies classes just wasn’t good enough. For me. I got anxious most summer evenings spent with my cousins, because a day had passed where I’d done nothing but eat Taco Bell and play with Barbies. I still get depressed during vacations mostly, I suspect, because it seems more purposeful than recreating.
Now I’m just flyin’ to Barcelona because, what the hey, I can.
And it’s so cool! But it takes some adjustment. I still focus on the hard part: leaving my family, the trip through customs, the airports with limited or no English signage, the decision whether or not to bring my red Saucony’s. As I told my brother, I have no idea how to focus on the potential coolness. Thinking about that would just be silly, frivolous. So what if I’m going to a country older than America times ten, where there are no Walmarts (better not be) and a good friend of mine almost died in ecstasy just from the sheer culturality dripping from the streets. So it could be cool. But what’s so great about doing something just because it’s cool?
My relatives would understand. Some of them might read this, in those ten free minutes between putting children, animals and house to bed and getting a few hours’ shut eye. I come from people who prefer doing their own roofing, even if the hospital bills for fixing their broken necks cost more than hiring someone else to replace the shingles. And this attitude is distinctly American. Maybe I should check out life in a different country, see what that’s like… say, a country that takes off two hours for lunch every single day.
Okay, then, I’ll do that.