The date is set. The contract signed. My husband starts his new job in Slovenia on 1st July, and we should all be moved there as a family by then. Another new home. Another new country. Another new life.
On The Move Again
For my husband, the move will be a homecoming: a return after 15 years absence from his native land. For our kids, it will be a chance to get to know the other half of their nationality (which is dual, British-Slovenian). Slovenia is like a second home to me, I’ve visited so often, and it’s certainly one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. Nevertheless, after four years in the Iberian sun, I will miss Spain.
I remember very well arriving in Barcelona, fresh from a two-day drive in a van laden with all our worldly goods. I only knew a handful of Spanish words and phrases, and maybe two or three words in Catalan. And there I was, face-to-face with a wall of Spanish bureaucracy. I realised pretty quickly that I’d have to learn the language, fast.
It was an emotional time for me, having quit work to be a stay-at-home mum to my then three-year-old son. We took Barcelona to our hearts, traveling all over the city by train and bus and metro. But it took me hours of Memrise and many frustrated attempts at communication to master the language.
Moving out to the beautiful L’Ametlla del Valles, in the Catalan countryside, I realised I’d have to try my hand at Catalan as well. I took some classes and got to the point where I could understand the language well, if not speak fluently. My eldest son spoke it like a pro. Then it was time to relocate again.
Over the last year in Andalucia, my Spanish has really improved as I returned to work and had to use it on a daily basis. I sometimes think in Spanish now, which means the language has become part of my DNA. And once again, it’s time to start anew…
With hindsight, I wish I’d started a blog about my travels when we decided to re-locate to Spain. I could have filled it with much useful information about how to negotiate the labyrinthine Spanish Immigration, Social Security and Education systems. I have no desire to relive such nightmares now, so I’ll leave that struggle in the past, where it belongs. No doubt, with Brexit, the rules for Brits arriving in Spain have become more labyrinthine still.
Looking forward, I know the process of moving across Europe in the midst of a near-Europe-wide lockdown will provide me with plenty of interesting stories and anecdotes, to be posted in due course. I’m lucky to know Slovenian pretty well already, thanks to (the need to be able to disagree with) my mother-in-law, who doesn’t speak any English. Hopefully, then, I won’t feel utterly dislocated when I arrive. But as ever, I must remember to stay grounded.
Being present in the moment
With so many new experiences on the horizon, and so many fond memories of the land I leave behind, taking a moment in each day to just breathe, release and be present in the moment will be more important than ever. It’s something I’ve learned from all the relocations and the rollercoaster of emotions which can accompany them. Stop the ride, get off and walk around whatever space and time you find yourself in now: in the end, it’s all you’ll ever really have.
In other news…
This week, I’ve had the honour of judging the Penable Thursday Poetry Competition, hosted by the hugely talented H.R. Phoenix. Head over to today’s post for the results, and be sure to check out Penable tomorrow for this week’s poetry competition!