“You moved here during the pandemic?” a fellow expat asked me the other day.
“Well, yes,” I said. We were sitting in the Turia –a park that winds its way through the center of Valencia, Spain.
“Why did you choose to come now?” she asked. Having been asked this question at least twenty times in the last seven weeks, you would think my answer is honed. But I dip in and out of various reasons depending on my audience. . .
A Dream Deferred
“My husband and I have always wanted to live abroad,” I often start. “Somewhere in Europe. And I don’t mean to generalize — I know that ‘Europe’ is an entire continent. But basically, I was thinking France or Italy and he was thinking Germany or Portugal.” My conversation partner laughs.
“So how did you end up in Spain?”
“When we started looking into which country would be easiest to get a visa, Spain won. Well, actually, Portugal would have been easier. But I didn’t want to learn Portuguese. . . And I get that not everyone who moves abroad wants to learn the language, but I do.”
The “United” States
“So when did you decide you were actually going to make the move?”
“When they invaded the Capitol,” I answer, matter-of-factly. “I don’t really care what anyone’s politics are. The problem for us is that the US is so divisive anymore–you’re either on my side or you’re not, and if you’re not, I don’t like you and can’t talk to you. We know the politics here aren’t ideal, but it’s not about the politics. It’s about people being able to talk to each other in a civilized manner.”
No matter what country my conversation partner is from, they understand this sentiment.
The Unexpected Silver Lining of COVID
“So what do you do for work?” they ask.
“Well, I was a teacher,” I say. The person with whom I am speaking immediately comforts and consoles. “I left my job and started an online math tutoring business,” I explain. “My husband has worked remotely for twenty years. So this is the first time we can both live wherever we want. So here we are.”
“And what made you choose Valencia?” they ask. Ah. The million dollar question. Which will be answered for free. Tomorrow.