Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Up Down and All Around

Ahhh where have I been!?! If I told you, you might not believe me. So much has happened I don't know where to start. With the change of family has come a change of pace. Everyday is something, soccer, dance, tennis, training. I keep busy here in Pamplona because I only have one year; I keep busy here on Earth because I only have one life. Sometimes people sleep through life (well in Spain when "dinner" goes until 4 in the morning I don't blame them) but I just can't be a part of any drowsy demographic.

Preparing for out 50k pilgrimage in March
When people say "Gap Year", all I can think is How dare you! I'm doing everything to make it just the opposite. I always need to feel like I'm doing something, but I've also had a lot of down time to just think and discover how much this year is teaching me. Catching two butterflies with one net (because that whole bird-stone saying is just too gruesome for a animal-lover like me), here are my stories and discoveries all wrapped in a sushi roll of ups and downs.

A Tango to Pride

I love dancing (are you getting tired of me saying how much I love everything?). I knew I was in the right place when my host dad blasted the radio and danced-sang his way through the cook-cleaning on my first day in the Guardia. So when asked if I'd like to take ballroom dance class with them could there be any response besides an instant !

They took me to sushi I ate it too quickly to take a picture but here's my tea.
First class we jumped right in, Tango, Swing, Cha-Cha-Cha we were taking on the entire season of Dancing with the Stars and I was having the time of the life. Being without partner (yes all you nosy people Tanika Santos is without a Spanish boyfriend) the professor took my hand had me full swing in my first Waltz. I knew Shakira hip-shaking heart-pumping rhythmic dances not the grand ball dance that I was sure only existed in movies. But always feeling confident on the dance floor I held my make believe swan neck high and 1-2-3'ed my way through it. The music the movement took me to 19th century England and I the princess of the ball and-- the music had ended all too quickly and soon the air was filled with claps and cheers. "It isn't me. She's the one who moves marvelously." The professor bowed to me like the queen I was feeling I could be.

On the way home my host dad looked at me in the rearview mirror and said something that still makes me smile. "Cuando ella esta bailando me quedo impressionado. La verdad es que tengo mucho orgullo en nuesto hija adoptive." >> "When she dances I remain impressed. The truth is I'm very proud of our adopted daughter." I let the tittle of Dancing Queen and all it's glory carry me in the clouds for a few days until the first omen hit.

The Policeman's Flashlight

Learned how to make "Roscos"
sorry Dunkin but these got you beat.
Friday nights, when all of Pamplona is preparing to party, I'm practicing. Not complaining, I love soccer but from when it's 10pm, below freezing and you're sprinting while the rest of the country is having dinner and getting pretty, ya feel a little grudgey. I listened to the downpour and drooped a little knowing that rain-snow-storm, we play. Until my host mom came running in worried, "You're not going to practice right? If the river floods you won't be able to get back." I gave my coach a quick call just to confirm and pulled on my sweats ready for one my famous Home Alone Parties!

Music cranked on full blast, I started getting ingredients, zucchini bread for the family, an after opera surprise. Mixing the bowl, mixing my hips, just getting to the chorus when the music stopped, the oven clicked off and the lights, out. I stood in the kitchen holding the bowl and spoon in the quiet dark. I didn't think much, pulled on my coat, not bothering to change my clothes and marched down to the police station (How convenient it is to practically live in one).

The officer's came to my rescue, or at least they tried but with 20 minutes of switching lights and levers I started feeling really guilty and told them I was fine in the dark. They offered me a giant flashlight like the ones from COPS and wouldn't take no for an answer. Again not wasting time I pulled out my phone, blasted that music and started dancing by flashlight. It wasn't long before my parents came home flicked a switch taking me back into the real world. They told me how all the policemen were downstairs worrying about me and said they were happy to know I was alright. I was more than alright I had a great night. But that was the last great night before the first worst night.



First Snow, First Sob.

Snow. Snow. One more time SNOW! At first if came down beautifully, covering the world in it's powder and then it started to freeze and what was first a fun fluff became a deadly slick surface. On that day I'd broken my boot, broken my nail and when I got home an icky stress cold sore was sitting on my mouth like an unwanted guest (even mother nature was warning me, this was going to be a bad day) Normally I ignore these "omens" and believe in the power of positivity but when the sun went down things took a turn for the worst. Remember when I said I'd be honest with you all? Here goes.

Snow? Rain? Either way you're cold and wet.
Skip the details, I had my first cry. I can't even say if it was for one thing but for everything, all the little things that I hadn't let myself be sad about. But I wasn't thinking of the reasons I just let all the emotions drain out of me, another lesson to remind myself that it's ok to be sad, it's ok to be vulnerable it really is ok to cry.

Bounce Back

I can't say the next day was much better. Yes I'd washed out the bad but I'd washed out everything else with it. I walked like a ghost, people asking at school if I was ok. Seeing them, thinking, I may never see you again worse I don't think I'll ever be ready for goodbye. I wasn't on the verge of tears but with the night before I feared them. I needed air.

The walk to school. I have become a wimp to the cold.

That day I became a tree. (OK now you can say I've gone crazy) But really I just sat outside on a bench and let the sun regenerate me. I felt it warming my frozen nose, filling my empty insides and when I opened my eyes I felt the love I'd always had for this place wrapping me in a welcome home hug and I just wanted to hug it back! I ran around awkwardly in my puffy jacket and oversized hand-me-down snow boots. Jumping in what little snow remained throwing it in the air and twirling in it like falling stars. I whispered with every little toss, Te amo Pamplona, con todo mi alma, te amo. > I love you Pamplona, with all of my soul, I love you.

My backpack being a model.
Things have only gone up since that day, granted it's only been a week but hey I've got a new book, a fresh batch of protein bites and nothing but good vibes (that could seriously be the chorus to a hipster vegan anthem). The next night only clarified the end of my down days.

The choco-protein bites to be the cover of my first hipster-vegan album.


The Dance in Me

The way dancing had made me to happy in the beginning it has been the savior yet again. One of my Christmas presents, likely my favorite, was a ticket to the Flamenco dancing spectacle, Sara Baras. I had become enamored with the lively Spanish dance long before my arrival. My excitement only grew as we took our seats among the rows of red. The curtains rose.

We couldn't take pictures inside and it pains me that I can't share the beauty of the show with you all.

My heart skipped to the beat of taconeos, soared with the rise and fall of dress hems. Sara Baras. Slap, twirl, golpe like a storm was raging through her. Then softly arching her birdwings, as though her body were the air itself, the air being taken out of me, I watched in a trance. The guitar came winding down with her hands setting free mine I clapped to the point of red palms. I had moved so far forward in my seat I was practically clapping atop the bald head in front of me.

I really am sorry for no pictures I only hope my description gives a little life to the amazement I witnessed.

The dances passed with my heels clacking, my soul alive and and all too quickly it was over. The dancers, musicians came out to take their final bows and then Sara did something beautiful. She quieted the audience like a mother calming her child. Despite the power she'd radiated through her dance, her voice was soft whole-heartedly thanking us. Tears filled my eyes as she dedicated the entire performance to little girl with a rare disease in the audience. She took off the spotlights, speakers and flare, dedicating the final dance to Pamplona.


It felt as though she had opened a door to her home, inside they were having a party and we were all invited. I didn't even feel the sting of the wind as we walked home, every cell in me was alive with the need to dance. That night I dreamt of flying, the winds of Andalusia lifting the dance in me and I breathed Flamenco.

Exiting the tunnel and into the snow we go

What's Ahead and What's in Here

In truth I love writing for you all but I hit a lot of speed bumps I'm not sure what you want to hear so I just write what's going through my head. Please tell me, you're the readers, more experiences, less feelings, more specifics, less whatever it was you were saying about being a tree? like seriously who says that!? I'm willing to put a new spin on things for you guys after all, you are the reason I write and for that I'll keep thanking you.

On another up note, I'm going to enter into an art contest for youth exchange. I'm feeling pretty proud of how it's going and the more I work on it the more I love the idea.  I'll be sure to take pictures for you all and post it with the next post that (fingers crossed) won't take too long.

Not sure which way my future is pointing, I'm just here enjoying the ride.