I’m having one of those Ah-ha moments where everything is connected to everything.
Allow me to ramble…
Where I’m coming from.
I just returned to the Basque Country in Spain after nearly 3 weeks in Boston. So I’ll start here. I missed Boston, and I missed the United States. After 2 years abroad, I was somehow really surprised by this, and basically decided that I wanted to move back. It’s time. Granted, there’s the obvious comfort of being with or closer to good friends and family, but as a place, what did I really miss? I don’t think the United States is better than anywhere else necessarily but there’s just something about it, or I suppose to anyone, there will always be something about home.
-Having events, concerts, and festivals on any given day.
-Being able to find classes on anything – even the most random things like identifying wild mushrooms.
-Walking into a bar and having a BOOK of different locally-brewed craft beers, especially the seasonal pumpkin and Oktoberfest!
-Being able to have any choice of foods from around the world.
-Hearing multiple different languages when I walked down the street, and not once having anyone attempt to speak to me in Chinese.
One of my favorite things to do anywhere is people watch. Boston is so full of diversity and while sometimes it’s ridiculous that you can take a bus that connects the poorest neighborhoods to some of the richest in 15 minutes, I can’t help but love that we all get crammed on a bus together. You have your neighborhoods of all kinds – Latino, black, Asian, Irish, Italian, Jewish… I love that these areas can set themselves apart and are proud to hold such strong culture that IS different from some standard “typical American” idea. One of my favorite days was walking around the Jazz Festival on Columbus Ave in front of my old apartment, with the street was lined with southern soul food, caribbean food, funk music, brazilian drums, jazz tunes, and all kinds of of crafts. One of the problems of being away is that you start to see your hometown/state/country in summarized terms. Or through the eyes of everyone else. Of course this is a fresh perspective to have but I think I forgot that it’s not the only one, and being back reminded me that I really don’t think there is anything that’s typical about people or a place.
So safe to say, I fell in love with Boston all over again. Now I’ve pretty much set this up to sound like I don’t like where I’m living now. And I didn’t like it sometimes, and if I’m totally honest, I probably won’t always like it. But I felt the same way about everywhere I’ve lived. I couldn’t have been more ready to leave Boston when I did. But I think being here and feeling like there’s so much surrounding being collectively Basque, I started to think in terms of these labels. In fact, I’m a huge hypocrite because I argue all the time about not generalizing and not lumping groups of people together while taking in my perspective of life here under the generalization of Vitorianos or Basques and not really seeing the details. And the unseen was literally right in my face.
So about all those things I was missing from Boston… Vitoria has a lot of immigrants here too. For one, I live in an apartment full of them. In a neighborhood full of them. And I go to stores owned or staffed by them. Most days, I can hear different languages in addition to Spanish and Basque. There are classes and events all the time, I just have to pay more attention and search more since I lack the convenience of having more mouths to give me news via word-of-mouth. And well, I guess I have to cook more to satisfy those food cravings… and I’ll just get over the fact that pumpkin beer does not exist here.
Moral of the story… once I realized what exactly I was missing and craving, I realized I either had it already or I could get it.
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want. And if they cant, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw
When you leave a place, you see it with different eyes when you are gone – you miss who you aren’t with, the places you aren’t at, and the things you aren’t doing. When you are back, you see it with all the feelings of nostalgia and memories from when you were there before. And when you leave it again, and maybe only immediately after, maybe that’s when you start to merge these mindsets and see it for what it is.
Catching up with people in Boston (especially since many of us are suffering from a quarter-life crisis) made me realize that we’re always going to think the grass is always greener on the other side. There’s benefits to both leaving and staying, so who’s living the dream? It depends on how you look at it – Once you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.