I haven’t always been fearless when it comes to travel. A friend of mine told me that readers would like to know my story and I realized that I had never told you. Well, here is what happened.
I was 24 years old ( so just a few years ago) and I stopped by one of my friend’s houses for a visit. She wasn’t home but her dad, Mr. Simmons, was there. He invited me in while I waited for his daughter to arrive and we started talking. Her dad was the general manager of a major hotel chain and he was telling me stories about how kids from other countries came and worked at his hotel and many of them didn’t speak English.
We talked for about an hour about his experience in the hotel business and something about what he said about the students coming to America really hit home with me. I remember clearly the moment I decided to move to Spain and learn Spanish. I was in his living room while listening to him speak. I can’t tell you the exact words he said that motivated me but there was just something about his stories that got me to thinking, “If these kids can do it, why can’t I?” So I got back in my car and called my mom. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
“Hi mom. I’ve made a decision. I’m moving to Spain.”
“Mom, I’m serious. I’m going to move and I’m moving in May.” (It was October).
“Okay. What made you decide that?”
I then told her about the conversation with Mr. Simmons and she thought it was great and totally encouraged me to move. So I called my dad afterwards and he thought I was crazy, he didn’t understand why I would want to live in a foreign country, especially when I didn’t speak the language but he was still encouraging and told me to do whatever I wanted.
My parents have always given me the freedom to make my own decisions, even when they may not agree with them but they have always stood by me. That was a big help in my decision because before I called them both, I knew they wouldn’t dissuade me from moving.
So I had several months to get myself together. I decided I was going to go as a nanny so that’s where my research started. Oh, I should tell you that I waited until May because I had a few things going on in my life that I needed to take care of and I couldn’t leave until May.
Now, I’m dating myself here but when I made the decision to move, I couldn’t go on the internet and do a search. The Internet wasn’t in all households or on our phones so I had to go to the library and find books on agencies that handled nanny placement in Spain. I sent off several international letters and waited for my responses.
Okay, fast forward to May and I have my job all lined up. I was going to be a nanny with a family in Barcelona even though I wanted to move to Madrid. I was disappointed and I had to look on a map and find Barcelona because I had no idea where it was. When I got over my disappointment I decided to go ahead with the move and I was soon headed to Barcelona.
Now, in the meantime, my extended family had gotten wind that I was moving to a foreign country. To say they weren’t supportive is an understatement. They couldn’t understand why I would want to do that, and many tried to talk me out of it.
I didn’t care and didn’t listen.
People will always try and stop you from living your dreams because they didn’t have the courage to try theirs.
Now, up until about a week before I was totally excited about this. But then I started getting nervous. I mean, really nervous. I was making stupid mistakes in all aspects of my life. I was really jumpy and didn’t know why, I totally missed a friends party because I got my days mixed up and couldn’t think straight. I was a wreck. I was moving to another country where I didn’t know anyone and I was falling apart.
And then the day came when I was being driven to the airport by my mom. The night before I had a going away party and my friends and family showed up and as I was looking around I was thinking, “Why am I leaving all of this?” But there I was, sitting in my mom’s car getting closer and closer to the airport and I was so scared. I mean REALLY scared. I had no idea what to expect from Spain and I was barely keeping it together.
Fast forward to the gate. This was back in the day when your friends and family could walk you to your gate and say goodbye. My cousin and her family were there to see me off and we were all having a good time, I was sitting on my mom’s lap (yes, at 25 I was actually sitting on my mom’s lap. Don’t judge me) until they made the announcement for my flight to start boarding.
Then the waterworks started.
I hugged everyone goodbye and my mom was the last one I hugged and I started crying like I was never going to see her again. I was doing the ugly cry. You know, the one where your whole body is shaking and your face is all contorted but you’re trying to not look so ridiculous but you can’t stop yourself which makes your ugly cry even uglier? That was me.