I had originally written this blog on my macbook but unfortunately, as previously mentioned, a little incident with a pint of water has prevented me from using it since.
A year ago, I was looking for a pair of new shoes. I wanted some boots. The problem I have with shoes is that I will wear the same pair a lot and almost every day. So they have to be good. But forget about that for now. This isn’t about my christmas wishlist from 2012.
So a year ago, I had no job, I had spent a summer performing at Edinburgh festival and by the end of it, I had spent every penny I owned. I found work but only to spend my wages on commuting to said job. I wanted to move out and find a place in the city but this is impossible when you can’t rub two pennies together without the bus driver taking them from you.
I went on the dole.
This was the worst experience I ever had. Because I felt completely helpless. I had to use a government database of job vacancies to find a job near me. I was and still am unable to drive, so just because they were near me, didn’t always mean I was able to travel to them. I like to do things and not working and living in a remote place means that essentially you can’t do things. This is very frustrating. I also like to work so being paid not to work bugged me. Big time.
Then I got a job that started in January. In Spain.
I phoned the government and told them I had a job. It was a job in Spain but a job nonetheless. I didn’t want any more of their money. They asked me when I started and I told them January. I couldn’t stop receiving their money until I was about to leave. This also made me cross. I thought and still think that this money should have gone to someone who can’t pay for their heating and is struggling with the amount of money they need to fill their tank. I felt like I was adding to a problem I was already very aware of and despite my protests I was told I had to wait before they would stop giving me money.
Then I got a job working in Bristol Zoo. I was basically a dinner lady/cleaner and I had to wear gloves that had flour on the inside and when you took them off it felt like your hands had never felt water before. It was a job though, which meant the government could stop giving me money. I was told I was good at this job and despite it not being the best job in the world, I got respect from working, cleaning and scrubbing like anyone else in this place. It was a Christmas job but continued into the New Year which is when I started writing this blog. If you find the start, one of the first posts references slicing a big old bit of pork for hours on end.
I spent a beautiful New Years with some of my best friends and some new ones (as often happens at this time of year).
Then came January. I was going to Spain. I was going to live with a Spanish family and I was going to work in a Spanish school. I remember speaking about it on New Years Day, legs aching, and mouth smiling. At this point in time I think it’s safe to say I HAD NO IDEA what my year was going to be like.
Up until this point in my life, I felt prepared for most situations I entered into. Or mostly prepared for situations I went into. This was a new feeling. The feeling when you get on a plane and you don’t know who is going to meet you at the other end, you’ve sold most of your CDs and DVDs to pay for your ticket there and you have a bit of cash for the first month. But you don’t REALLY know what is about to happen. I couldn’t speak Spanish, I hadn’t taught before and I was all too aware that anything could come of this journey.
A few words on the duration – at times it was tricky, it was a ridiculous amount of fun, I met friends, students and teachers who I will never forget and I learned things about myself I didn’t know were things that were there to be learned (that’s a tough one to explain).
Following this experience, I returned to the UK. During my time in Spain, my sister had been busy becoming a Mother, and a wonderful Mother at that. So I wanted to be close to mis sobrinos and see my family and friends. This was my plan, so I got some work in a couple of bars, had a friend come to visit and we spent a couple of weeks seeing Bristol and then Edinburgh Festival which were both pretty special in their own ways. Following this I was working, I was working, I was seeing friends when I could and I was working.
Then I got an itch, an unshakable itch that wanted to leave the country again.
I had successfully ignored it for quite some time before I met some Spanish people at one of my jobs and then I realised something I wanted to deny. The people I want to be with are in one place but the place I want to be is somewhere else. I have used the word ‘want’ twice but ‘need’ could be applicable to both. You may be able to relate to this and I’m aware that if you’ve never had this feeling then it just sounds incredibly selfish, but let me tell you it’s not a thought you want to have. You leave half your heart behind when you leave, or you live with the people you love and know that somewhere beyond your front door, half of your heart has blown off somewhere waiting for you to reclaim it.
That is why I am back in Spain. Not looking for my heart, I know it’s going to be a while before I can have both bits together but in the time being, I’m doing my best to keep in touch with those who make it beat. Without their support I don’t know where I would be right now, or what I would be doing. They’re the people who supported my decision to leave and who have kept speaking to me and being my friend despite the lack of the shared pub experience that’s difficult to obtain through a wifi connection. A huge thanks to all of these people, who despite not speaking to me every day, when they do, they make me smile more than I expect to. EVERY TIME.
So I live a double life, one as an English teacher in Spain who doesn’t have many local friends and the other as a visitor in England with many friends but can’t stay employed longer than two months before running off again.
Now, to run, you have to want to go. I wouldn’t say I ran, that was a bad lexical choice back there. I’d say I wandered back to Spain. Even when wandering, a person needs a good pair of shoes. Now these shoes went with me to Spain once and then back. They then climbed Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, they have seen things I will never see again, they’ve danced most floors they’ve set foot on and they’ve carried me from A to C. I may be a very different person to the one I was a year ago, but I still have my shoes and that means I don’t forget where I’ve wandered from and that it’s always possible to wander back.
Last weekend I wandered right into Portugal but I think that’s another story for another day.