It’s my final Saturday night in Mallorca,
Unintended consequence of my time in Spain
My time in Spain closes off and I realize I have done very little contemplation during my week offline beyond discussing and creating a daily plan: what will we eat, where will we ride, what we will drink for dinner. My big hopes and dreams for this trip was to walk away from this island with a greater sense of motivation, to refine my goals for 2016 and reset my intentions for both my personal and professional life. Perhaps a more poignant would be to say I am reexamining my goals and intentions, making sure that in my heart everything works.
Instead I was swept up in the most wonderful form of meditation: just focusing on the day. I thought nothing of the day that had passed, I thought nothing of the day ahead.
Mind frazzled from the jet lag, the time zones, the blitzing through airports.
Cap du Formentor
Many years ago I was working for The Bike Company in Italy. It was Canadian Thanksgiving and I’d been gone from Canada for almost ten months and was homesick in a way I didn’t think was possible. After a Skype call with my family,
Backwards in time once more to the mournful peanut butter isle thanksgiving experience of days past. I checked out my groceries that night and walked back to the apartment, and this is where the memory ends. I don’t recall how I pulled myself out of the mental hole I had dug, I don’t recall how much longer I was in Italy, I don’t recall what year it was. My lasting thought as I walked away from Eurospar that night was that maybe somewhere there was a girl in Canada from Italy standing in the grocery store crying in front of the Olive Oil isle (or lack thereof).
This memory, long buried, came rushing back to me on day one in Port d’ Alcudia as I stood in the cookie isle at LIDL, laughing at my peanut butter options. There was only one peanut butter choice and I bought it. Expensive and sickeningly sweet, just like I recall from days past. I stood in line to pay for groceries and a floodgate opened in my mind, unlocking all sorts of memories from Italy I had long filed away. I remembered being reprimanded on my first grocery buy in Italy for not pre-weighing my vegetables; I remember how to ask for bags in Italian, I remembered buying pre-cooked beets in plastic packaging. I remember the wine isle and 1 Euro bottles of wine, I remember the cobbled streets near where we lived and the gelato shop we wandered over to frequently. So it would be for the next 18 days in Mallorca, Spain I would take an unexpected trip down memory lane, Italy unfolding in front of my consciousness and the language came flowing back despite my inability to use any of it at my current location.
Italian language aside, my mind mostly was occupied with a very simple day-to-day formula Jon and I fell into: what breakfast will I eat, when will I consume coffee, what ride should we do, what dinner will I eat, what wine will I consume. This is the sum total of my critical thought over my seven days off in Spain.
Not to say I didn’t have some time to reflect, because I did, not to say I didn’t consider some things about my current state, because I did, not to say I didn’t have time and space to connect with Jon, I did. It’s just that this consumed far less of my mind than I thought, and it turns out that was the best. I practiced replying in Italian for every phrase I understood, I worked hard riding through the mountains and rode endless miles, I slept like a baby in Mallorca. I ate bread. I drank wine. Life for a short period was simple.
Leaving Spain I find myself reminded of something I had forgotten. Living abroad increases your resiliency, forces you to mold – or at least bend! - into another way of life and provides you with an experience so different and exciting from the norm. Every part of living abroad is an adventure. Going to the grocery store. Meeting people. Buying stamps at the post office. Boarding the plane to fly home I felt sad to be leaving but grateful to return to my life at home, my dog, my community, my peanut butter.