“The greatest adventure starts with a conversation…”
Or in our case, years of them. Mostly on a Friday night, after a long week at work over a bottle of vino tinto. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, spinning my globe (my prized possession) for inspiration, I would start to list countries at random in an attempt to narrow down where in the world we could start a new life one day. R usually picked the less obscure of my options for consideration, but wherever it was, we were both in agreement that “we’ll have to learn the language, of course”.
Soon, those Friday night conversations would continue into the weekend. DIY jobs around the house took a back seat (any excuse!) and we became wary of making commitments “just in case we move away”. We made no secret of it either, sharing our dream with family and friends. There’s something in the power of saying it out loud…
1st January 2019 was the turning point. Waving off our friends and their 3-month-old after our traditional NYE celebrations, we walked the empty streets of Glasgow – our home for a decade – hangover-free and full of hope. The sun was shining, our minds were clear and there was literally nothing stopping us – it was a symbolic start to our year. Within days, R sent job applications all over the world, I returned to work feeling positive and for once, didn’t submit a holiday request form on the first day back!
By February, there was something in the pipeline. Our dreams weighed on R’s shoulders as he triple-checked his Skype connection prior to his second interview, but he played it cool. He was offered a position in Madrid!
We couldn’t believe it. After years of those conversations, we were finally making it happen!
Things quickly fell into place. We gave notice at our jobs, started packing up our lives and true to our word, signed up for Spanish classes! A Madrileño student living in Glasgow spent a few hours per week teaching us the basics of the language and the cultural ‘need-to-knows’ before we made the move. He told us the Spanish were a notoriously nosy bunch so not to be surprised if our elderly neighbours would want to know all the gossip. I immediately asked to learn all the key phrases that would help me befriend an old Abuela or two!
It was the start of a long journey of language learning that would require more effort and determination than anything we had done before. But we were serious about this, and motivated by the desire to fully immerse ourselves, we knew we would do whatever it took (even if that meant watching ‘Dora the Explorer’)!
Fast forward through a few whirlwind months of emotional farewells, important appointments, apartments to view and forms to sign, the unpacking of our worldly possessions, and more than one “Is this really happening?” moments!
And we were settled.
These days, I watch ‘Place in the Sun’ during my (completely justified) siesta time! I still can’t get used to this, particularly when I remember that I used to watch the show on a rare sick day back home, snuggled up when it was grey and wet out. I would envy the couples, whose circumstances allowed them to pack up their lives and follow the sun. I would turn my focus to planning our next holiday, distracting myself from the fear that our real goal could be out of reach until we retired, in 40 years’ time! But I always dreamt that one day, we would have our own place in the sun. We just had to make it happen.
“The greatest adventure starts with a conversation…” I wonder what the next one will be. It might even be in Spanish!