One year later.
One year ago today I landed in Barcelona, took a taxi to a hostel in the Born area (minutes from Las Ramblas and not too far from the beach) and began My Life 2.0.
The year has flown by and yet was chock full of experiences – positive ones and plenty of learning ones too. I took a TEFL course, found work and apartments, opened a Spanish bank account and worked at making new friends.
13 months ago, I lived in Lincoln Square (Chicago) in a spacious one bedroom apartment that was mine all mine (for $900 a month); I lived alone and I loved it. Now, I live in Gracia (Barcelona) and for $610 a month I rent a bedroom and have my own bathroom in a nice sized apartment that I share with two other girls.
13 months ago, my Chicago apartment was chock full of things, things and more things. I had a closet in my bedroom that stretched from one wall to the other and it was crammed with clothes on hangers, clothes piled on the shelves and shoes strewn across the floor. Now, I have a bedroom the size of a dorm room and there is one freestanding wardrobe that holds an armful of clothes.
13 months ago, I had an apartment full of furniture I had amassed over the years – a leather recliner from Affordable Portables, a massage chair, a kitchen table from IKEA with red stools, a dining room table from Crate & Barrel, stools from Target, an awesome 2-piece L-shaped couch from World Market, a 5×5 Expedit cubed bookcase from IKEA, a queen size bed with a pillow-top mattress and I had a bedframe with matching bedroom furniture in espresso colored wood from Roy’s Furniture. Now, I don’t own a single item of furniture.
13 months ago, I had air conditioning – two units! One in the living room and one in the bedroom and, if I wanted to leave it on all night, I could. Now, I have a fan that stands right next to my bed to keep me cool at night while the rest of the room usually feels like a suffocating sauna.
13 months ago, I had a car! I loved my SPRT LVR silver Honda Civic – I even had an automatic starter installed so the heater could get going and the snow and ice would start to melt before I even walked out of my apartment to brave the bitter Chicago winter. Now, I have tickets for buses and trains and I have a Bicing card for the rental bike program.
13 months ago, I had so many things, too many things. Most of the stuff was sold in garage sales or given to the Salvation Army, The Brown Elephant, The Mount Sinai Hospital Resale Shop and the Hadassah House Resale Shop and some things are being stored at my parents’ house. So what’s left for me back home in the USA? Now that I’ve cleared out the clutter, it’s easy to see that the parts that remain are the essence of life – family and friends.
15 months ago, I was a junior high school Spanish teacher and I had tenure. I loved teaching and felt most alive when in the classroom. Now, I am a freelance English teacher, working without a contract – and I still love teaching. Up to 13 months ago, I was paid every other week, on time, every time, and I was paid well, very well (after over a decade of teaching). Now, I am paid by the hour with my individual students paying me in advance and on time, usually. The companies I work for pay me within the first ten days of the month, usually, although sometimes two or more reminders are necessary. 15 months ago, my career had hit a devastating low-point; after eleven stellar years of nearly perfect evaluations, negative rumors spread and lack of support prevailed. Now, I can pick and choose my students and my jobs and if they or I am not satisfied, we can move on. Now, I can tailor lessons to each individual student’s level and interests (and not just aim to do so in theory) and I am excited to do so. Now, I am showered with gratitude. 15 months ago I had to endure meetings, committees and non-stop initiatives. Now, I am meeting-free (praise the Lord)!
13 months ago, I had TMJ. I went to physical therapy on a regular basis. I tried Botox. Accupuncture seemed to help a bit. And I shelled out money for all of this treatment that the insurance company deemed unnecessary. I couldn’t yawn without pain. Eating carrots and bagels and so much more was just a dream. 12 months ago I moved to Barcelona. Today, I no longer have TMJ.
24 months ago began another year full of debilitating migraines. I missed countless workdays to writhe in pain in bed for hours and often days at a time. Beyond my family and closest friends, compassion and comprehension were disappointing. Now, I still get migraines but only had to miss one day of work in the last 12 months. Now, I make my own work schedule which allows me to take breaks between classes and reschedule classes if necessary. 13 months ago I had a PPO insurance plan, mostly paid for by the school board but still requiring hundreds more in premiums taken from each paycheck. I no longer have to get stressed out over the insurance company dictating how many (or how few) pills I am allowed each month to avert a migraine. Now, I can buy the medication any time I need (and without a prescription).
13 months ago, I had so many things and endless creature comforts. Now, my life is more tranquil and even richer.