Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Last Day in Sonseca

This is the last entry I will write on here from Spain. In two days (God and RyanAir willing) I will be home in the United States.

This is hard to wrap my mind around, in truth.

Today was my last day of work and my students surprised me. I entered the first classroom to see the blackboard covered in goodbye scribbles and inside jokes. My students presented me with cards and presents, and I was very touched. They gave me a watch and a bracelet, as well as a package of warm socks. We spent the rest of the time just talking, and they told me to come back to Spain and work as an actor, because I would always pretend to cry or get angry when they teased me.

I went to 2nd A's class, which has always been my favorite. They gave me a silver bracelet with my name on one side, and the other side engraved with "Your students in 2nd A." Next was a picture of the whole class in a very nice and heavy frame. They asked me to read aloud the accompanying letter, and I got choked up (which secretly they had all been hoping for). They were pleased with the proof that I would miss them, and we said goodbye.

Now it is all memories. Or something like a memory.

This has been a very hard five months, as you know. It hit me yesterday that I really feel like myself for the first time in a long time. For so long, my identity couldn't really progress past "wounded," and that was all I felt. It hit me that it must have been incredibly hard to be my friend the past few months, as I was not just far away but also far from who I am. But you all have been here for me.

I received letters. And packages. There was never one day where I hadn't received new messages on Facebook. You listened to me ask questions that no one could answer. You prayed for me over Skype. You wept with me and for me. You wrote to tell me that you liked my songs. You wrote to say that you thought of me when you heard "Great is Thy Faithfulness" at church. You wrote to say that you thought you saw me on Harding campus. You wrote to say that you thought you saw me at church. You wrote to ask when I was coming home, so that we can hang out. You wrote to say (in different words) that you haven't forgotten me. You wrote to say that you love me.

Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. I was hurting over not being shown love, but you all were doing just that all this time. My life is full of beautiful people. My heart is full of gratitude. And it is healing, slowly but surely.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Things About Spain, or "Peter Paul and Mary Jesus"

6) Names are very important to Spaniards. They take them very seriously, in spite of the fact that I have friends named "Mary Jesus" and "Conception."

There are beautiful names here. Some examples from my students include Rocio, Alba, Helena, and Julia. The boys' names are short and punchy, like Sergio, Oscar, Javier, and Manuel.

Others, however, lack such charm and only leave you with questions. Why would any parent name their child "Macarena?" Especially when she was born AFTER the dance craze?

Some names are smooshed together, like "Luis Miguel" becoming "LuisMi." I learned a new name when a man flipped his bike in the middle of the street. We ran into each other a week later at the grocery, and he thanked me for helping him and introduced himself as "JuanJo," which I'm pretty sure is "Juan Jose."

Many names are conjoined religious references, like the two mentioned in the title of this post. Pedro Pablo ("Peter Paul") is a teacher here at the school, but he is not well liked by all. To explain, one day he sat down next to me as I was writing an email. Replace the words "next to" with "practically on top of" in that last sentence to imagine the proximity of our faces as he leaned in to talk. He asked how I was and I managed not to recoil while I answered, "Fine. And you?" As I counted the pores on his nose he replied, "Eh, I'm sick."

I laughed for at least five minutes when the students told me their nickname for this same teacher: Pedo Pavo. This rhymes, and translates literally to "Fart Turkey."

See what we are missing? There is no name in English that can so effortlessly be turned into such a wonderful taunt.

I will end this post with a plea that we not think about the words my name rhymes with. Let's just make fun of Spaniards, okay?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Things You Might Not Know About Spain, Volume 1

This is my last week here. There are many, many things that I have wanted to write on here but I tend to get distracted by metaphysics and navel-gazing, so this is a catch-all list to inform you on things that you couldn't know without spending a few months here.

1) The art of hairstyles has been perfected here in Spain. The boys wear mullets, and girls have curly bangs. No one thinks anything is wrong with this.

2) Dryers do not exist. Clotheslines do. Draping wet underwear over radiators throughout the house is also an option.

3) Carpet does not exist. This is the one that gets me the most. Every house floor is tile, and thus cold, and thus incredibly depressing when it is the first thing you feel in the morning. If I were Spider-Man I would totally walk on the ceiling and this would not be a problem.

4) In the United States, Chinese restaurants cook cat and dog meat since chickens are so dang hard to come by, right? Well, here they serve the remains of their dead family members. When asked about this, one clever Spaniard responded, "Have you ever seen a Chinese graveyard? Didn't think so."

5) Swear words are not uncommon, nor anything to take note of. In one class of professors, I said a difficult word to pronounce ("this," for crying out loud) and one man was discouraged and said the f-word equivalent. He was sitting next to the town's priest, who did not bat an eyelash.

I hope this has been enlightening for you. More to come, if you like them.