Wednesday, February 28, 2007

winter dreams

O.k. folks, it's time for my yearly obsession with moving to a new place. As most of you know, every year in February I decide I am moving. I decide on a city and proceed to research it extensively and exhaustively in the library and on the web. I pick schools for my children. I look at houses for sale. I start sprucing up my own home in preparation for the move. I make relocation plans with J. We discuss how he will work from our new city. (Can you tell he's been through this before? He's very calm about it.) I talk to my mom and Ave about my plans and bounce ideas off them.

In past years it's been Portland, Maine (near my family) and Monterrey, Mexico (near J's family). Last year it was Roanoke, Virginia, though I later switched to Charlottesville. Go here and here to see those posts from last year.

This year the winner is (drum roll, please) Barcelona! I have never been to Barcelona, but it's going to be my new home. I've even settled on San Cugat, a quiet, green suburb about 20 minutes north of Barcelona. A bus from the American School goes up there. Why the American school, you ask? My kids speak Spanish. Why don't I just send them to public school? Well, because they don't speak Spanish in the public schools of Barcelona. They speak Catalan. So. I just need to come up with about a million euros to buy a house big enough for my family in San Cugat, and of course there's the pricey American school tuition, too.

Yes, I realize that three months from now when you ask me about Barcelona, I will probably reply, "Wha?" But just humor me for now, people. Because who knows, maybe I really will move there and then when you call me and tell me you're taking a European vacation and need a place to stay, I will remember that you supported me in my obsession and I will say, "Mi casa es su casa."

Hey, this kind of thing keeps me off meds. And it has led me to learn quite a bit about Catalonia. I've started reading Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and its silent past by Giles Tremlett, who in this opening chapter seems genuinely surprised to discover that in Spain there isn't an "official" version of history regarding the Spanish Civil War and that Spanish school children learn different versions depending on their region. What was he expecting? When you think about it, an "official" version of any historical event seems highly suspect, and for something as devastating and recent as the Spanish Civil War, how could there be anything but a collection of different perspectives?


athena said...

mmmm, what a delicious post.

Auntie Lee said...

I have an American friend that just moved here from Barcelona. She lived there for 9 years. She said it was quite expensive and like living anywhere else outside your own country you don't really completely feel at home there. The only place here in Europe I have felt at home in was Kerry County, Ireland but then it is a lot like Maine and they speak English so that may have something to do with it.
If you want to be a bit more helpful in your thoughts... Portland friends of mine and I want to find a place in the States that is warm, rural and relatively openminded (meaning low on the racism and accepting of artists)and since we are all getting older it would be nice if there was some kind of hospital in the area and was not expensive to live (since none of us have a pension or social security). That should be a challange for you.

ave said...

The buildings in that picture look like something out of Lord of the Rings. The idea of living in another country is wildly romantic. I too have dreams of living abroad, this month I pick somewhere in Cambridgeshire. I don't think that I would ever want to live somewhere else for more than a year or two though. I find the soil here in the good ol' USA comforting, or maybe just the soil in Maine.

Montserrat said...

Barcelona! (Said the right way by pronouncing the c as 'th') I would love to live there or even visit. My grandfather was born and raised there and that's were my name comes from. Avi (Catalan for grandfather)fought in the Spanish Civil War and has some amazing stories to tell. I love the architecture of the buildings and Catalan food!

Julie said...

"Said the right way by pronouncing the c as 'th'" - Really?? I didn't know that.

Wow! Barcelona seems like quite the jump from last year's post. :-) That would make such an interesting move! So what do your kids think of your plans? Do you talk to them about it too?

Mark and Carla said...

Barcelona sounds so great! I have a big hankering to visit those Mediterranean countries--Spain, Greece, and Italy, in particular. Something about the history, the weather, the food...let us know when you get settled and we'll pop by for a visit!

I understand what Auntie Lee says about not feeling completely at home. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed I long for Minnesota, but not any one thing in particular...more of a sense of belonging and ease in doing things. On the other hand, the "fish out of water" feeling is one of the big reasons we wanted to come to Tanzania, to experience life in that regard. Boy, are we experiencing! :-)

Auntie Lee said...

I thought the same way as you mark adn carla for about the first 5 years. Now it has been 18 years and I am tired of always being the exception.

Some years ago I was in the States and went to church with my Mom. We sat in sacrament meeting and when the first song was sung I realized it was the first time in 10 years that I had heard a hymn sung in English. I started to cry.
I was working in Primary (children's lessons in church) at the time and I realized how important it was to translate everything I could for the kids. The lessons were in Dutch but the coloring pictures and things were all in English which they could not understand. Now they are all teenagers and they know English but I still make it a point to translate important things for them in Dutch. It was an eye opener for me.

Calandria said...

Auntie, I think the southwestern U.S. may be a good place for you. It's not so easy to research rural places on the web--they don't have the wealth of information that the big cities do. How about somewhere in New Mexico near Mum and Dad?

Ave, I also think it would be fun to live outside the U.S. for a few years, but maybe not permanently. I would like to try it out, at least.

Monts, I'd forgotten about your Catalan blood! Which side did your Avi fight on? I assume he fought for Franco. I've been reading about the Spanish Civil War for the past couple days and I had nightmares about it last night. J's maternal grandparents' ancestors came from Spain to Mexico in the 1800's, but he's forgotten what region they were from. I'll have to ask his sister, the geneologist. His paternal side has been in Mexico since the conquest. One ancestor married the daughter of Moctezuma.

Julie, I don't talk much to my kids about my moving plans. I don't know if they would understand that this is my yearly mania, and isn't likely to amount to much. I say that, though it seems very real to me now. I realize it's an indulgence and an impractical craziness, but boy is it fun!

Carla, I also want my kids to experience that fish-out-of-water feeling. And don't worry, you will be welcome in our Catalan home. :-) All of my gentle readers, in fact, are welcome. Consider it your new Mediterranean vacation home.

k. said...

I have the same thing. Every two years, I up and move. Well, I'm trying to quit. This year's obsession is Geneva. Having never been there, I've decided it is the perfect place to go to learn German, French, and Italian. I even tried to ask my boss if I could "work from home" for a month or two so I could just get it out of my system. It was a good try. ;-)

Montserrat said...

Avi was a Republican. Most of the Catalans were because the Republicans were for letting Catalunya have autonomy.

J's Mexican ancestry sounds like mine. My grandmother's ancestors came from Spain in the mid-1800's while my grandfather's side goes way back to the Indians.

Calandria said...

Right. After I wrote about assuming he was a Francoist I thought, why am I assuming he was a Francoist? And then as I read more about the Civil War I realized he must have been a Republican like most others from that region. Did he come to the U.S. to escape the Franco regime?

Calandria said...

K., I think Geneva sounds great. I am all for it. Then I can visit you in Geneva and you can visit me in Barcelona.

Did your boss let you work from home? When you say "it was a good try" do you mean he didn't let you or you did and didn't like it?

Montserrat said...

He came to the U.S. when he married my grandmother. Her sister served a mission in that region (in Southern France) and told her to come pick her up at the end of her mission because there was someone she wanted her to meet. :D They married in 1954.

Yaya's (grandmother in Catalan) ancestors are all pioneers who crossed the plains, immigrating from England and Wales.

athena said...

my father inlaw is catalan too. or at least his ancestors were. they were from the northern catalonia.