Currently in a relationship with my passport
How did I get here?
As I lie on my yoga mat (more about this in a later post) in Madrid, struggling to sleep I keep wondering: how the hell did I get here? I'm a 34 year old American currently living in Madrid - born and raised in Los Angeles who chose to live her 20s in New York City - and succeeded for over a decade in doing so. Sex in the City inspired me - and I wound living a little bit of each members lives - maybe not so much Charlotte's - definitely more Samantha's. But the fabulous life only lasts so long and before you know it you really have dated all on guys on the island and you're deep in debt you need a major change of scenery. Where do go next? The question many New Yorkers have: if you're still single and still not sure if you're ready to settle down and definitely not ready for the suburbs, where do you go next? What could possibly beat New York, minus the exorbitant cost of living? For me, the answer has always been Europe.
I've been in love with Europe since my first trip here when I was 15. I took French in high school because everyone took Spanish and I wanted to be different - silly me - 15 years later and I can't speak neither Spanish, nor French. Who looks like the idiot now?!? I digress. That first trip was on an exchange program to the south of France with 7 other American students from my school - I was one of two girls on the trip - also a good opportunity for me to receive male attention! This trip really changed my life. I lived with a french family for two weeks and really understood the differences between our countries and cultures. During the school day lunch was over 2 hours and the students would actually return home for a fresh cooked meal that the family would enjoy together. Amazing french cheese was included in every meal. This was a far cry from the overcooked fishsticks of our 40 minute lunch period at school. Nothing was enjoyable about high school lunches in my high school. The students returned to school rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of their day. Again, a very foreign concept for me.
In France - and as I've learned in most of Europe - work to live, not live to work as found in the US - is the life motto. After experiencing this at 15, I quickly learned that this lifestyle was much more suited to me. This is why I am such a proponent of travel - you don't know what other cultures are like until you're 15 and eating fresh camembert and baguette while drinking a small glass of sancerre and you know what kind of life you really want to live. In the reverse, when I was in Beijing using a disgusting public "toilet", which really meant squatting over a hole, I thanked my lucky stars for living in the US and realized how important hygiene really is to me. You really don't appreciate luxuries such as toilet seats and toilet paper until there aren't any around.
The trip to France was the gateway drug to my passion for travel. This was the pre- 9/11 world and a few of us were even able to sneak out of our hotel when we visited Paris and actually climb the first base and SIT, yes SIT on the Eiffel Tower at 3am sharing a cheap bottle of delicious french wine. I was hooked. I vowed to return to France and actually did that summer to spend time with my host family at their summer home. Swimming pools, more wine and cheese, weekends in the French Riviera - sometimes I had to pinch myself thay this was real. Yes, the US is a wonderful place but this experience taught me that there are other wonderful places to live, possibly even more wonderful and that was where I belonged.
In future blogs I will discuss more about my crazy journeys to get me where I am today - teaching abroad in Madrid - but in a nutshell, I I was in a rut in New York - job, apartment and love life were all meh and I needed to shake things up. Living and working in Europe has always been my dream and I knew that if I didn't do it now at 34 then I never would. I resigned from my respectable teaching job, gave up the lease on my rent stabilized apartment in the East Village found a suitable teaching program in Spain and many anxiety attacks later, I never looked back. This has without a doubt been the best decision that I have ever made and I am living proof that you can still live your dream and do wild things after 30 - club until 7 am, date 23 year olds, etc. I've learned that life is way too short and I knew in my heart of hearts that if I didn't do this I would regret it for the rest of my life and I knew that I could not live with that kind of regret. Is this for everyone? No. I took a huge pay cut and moved 6,000 miles away from my family to a country who's language I did not speak. But there are no rewards in life if you don't take risks. Where else can I be whatsapping (a must in Europe) an attractive British, American, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Danish guy all in the same night? Yes, Samantha is back. Follow me on my journey, it's going to be a good one.