The Longest Winter

This year I am definitely being tested. Last November I was offered a job in Artificial Intelligence in Marbella, Spain. The company flew me over, interviewed me, and I got to spend two nights in company housing with views of the beach and palm trees. I felt completely excited to break out of my Florence life and start completely fresh and new. I looked forward to meeting the people in my new company, and going for runs along the beach in the evenings. I was going to start saving and finally settle down.

I packed my bags and flew to Madrid where I would spend the holidays with close friends before preparing to move to Marbella. Upon arriving in Madrid, of course, I was faced with challenges. The holiday season in Spain is not the time to be doing bureaucratic things, and I had no idea where to begin. Through the kindness of strangers (in particular, Andres Gras, Form a Company) I was able to get my numero de identidad para extranjeros (N.I.E.) and begin to become regular in Spain.

Despite finally obtaining this magical number that I thought was all I would need to get started, I was informed by my then-future employer that they would no longer be willing to wait for me to sort my papers. Just like that, my bubble burst! I’m living in Spain (yay!) but now it’s January, I have no job, and no idea what my legal situation is.

I’m a resourceful girl, and years of survival in Italy taught me survival skills. I can wait tables, translate, babysit, hold conversations, edit, create, volunteer, write. While instability can be scary, I tried to look on the bright side: lots of time to run, to explore, and to visit with friends and family.

2018 in the Sierra in Madrid might have been the longest winter I have ever experienced, both literally and metaphorically. I was working from home, holed up inside, depressed, scared, worried that I would have to give up on my Spanish dream and head back home. I experienced waves of panic coupled with moments of hope, and can definitely conclude that I was being and continue to be tested right now in my life. How many bad breaks can a girl get?

All summer I spent time between Madrid and Florence, trying to get my paperwork in order. It just felt like doors were slamming all around me and I would be better off just going home. But if you know me at all, that is not my style. I am thankful that I have a gorgeous apartment in the center of downtown Madrid. I have a computer, and I have private (amazing!) health insurance. I have a supportive family and amazing friends. I know that something good will happen soon. I just need to keep the faith.

I am constantly reminded of the kindness of strangers and the impermanence of everything around us. Losing a dear family friend prematurely this year was also really hard, especially being so far away from home. Remember to let your loved ones know you care and appreciate them as this Thanksgiving holiday approaches! I am thankful I get to spend the holiday with the wonderful Ms. C in Florence. It will be nice to spend the evening with some familiar faces.

When have you been seriously tested? What did you do? How did things turn out?

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