On a day like today, February 9, 2005, my ex-husband, my 3-year-old son, my 1-year-old daughter (well, she turned one here on February 22nd), and I arrived in Alicante. After having lived 28 years in the USA. When we landed and I looked out the airplane window, I saw a gray and sad day. Upon leaving the airport, the Siberian cold we faced terrified me, and I thought, ‘What have we done?’ In the taxi on the way to the rented apartment we had reserved, I looked around: everything was dry and gray, nothing compared to Miami, Los Angeles, or New Jersey, which we had left behind. I didn’t want to cry so my children wouldn’t see me weak, but at that moment I knew my life was going to change completely, and the decision we had made months ago was about to show whether it was right or not. 19 years have passed since that day, and today I want to tell you my story.
Arriving in a country that is yours but not really yours is truly terrifying. Let me explain… I was born in Madrid, but at the age of 10, we moved to the USA, so I lived there during my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Although I spoke Spanish with my parents at home, the rest of the time, with friends at school, university, and work, I spoke English. My ex-husband is American, so we only spoke English. Upon arriving here, even though I had a Spanish passport, my Spanish ID, and was Spanish by birth, I wasn’t really Spanish or American; I was caught between two worlds. My Spanish wasn’t the best at first (and I still struggle a bit to have a perfect vocabulary, and the spelling leaves much to be desired, as you can see from my posts). My ex-husband didn’t want to learn Spanish, so I had to handle all the legal shit I wasn’t prepared to face. At that time, my mother came from Madrid to help me with the move and the children, and I am eternally grateful to her. Every time I take care of her now, I remember everything she did for us.
Reading this, you might be thinking, ‘Why the hell did you come to live in Spain, living in the USA and with such young children?’ Ah, here’s where the circle of life begins and how one thing turns around and ends up in the same place. My ex-husband is a composer and music producer (well, now I don’t know what the hell he does), and someone called him and said, ‘They’ve just built a film studio called Ciudad de la Luz in a city called Alicante in Spain, and they’re looking for professionals in the sector to work there. The area is going to become the next Hollywood.’ And he replied, ‘Ah, perfect, let’s go there.’ And I… WTF? No, I don’t want to. I live in Los Angeles, I have a good job, friends, and my children are very young. I don’t want to do to them what my parents did to me. The only thing I did think was that my mother now lives in Madrid and I would be closer to her. My ex spent months convincing me, and in the end, I said, ‘WTF let’s do it.’ Have I answered you? Now let’s continue.
Life coincidences: the first person I met here in Alicante was Arancha, a woman who told me she was married to an American named Tracy. (Fast forward to today, 2024, I’m taking a course at Ciudad de la Luz with Tracy). Tracy and Arancha helped me a lot those first months, guiding me through all the processes and details I had to deal with. During this time, my ex and I visited Ciudad de la Luz, and gradually he realized that neither the studios nor the city were prepared to be what they claimed to want to be. Little by little, he continued his path of tours and jobs abroad, leaving me alone with the children in Alicante.
Looking back, I don’t know how I did it and how I got here. I have to tell you that it was very hard in every sense. I had to start over from scratch. In the USA, I worked as a Buyer, earning around €80,000 a year, and when I arrived here, I tried to validate my university studies, and they asked me to almost go back and do the degree again, so I opted to abort the mission. I started going to interviews, and in my first interview with a real estate agency, the man who was interviewing me sat in front of me, smoking and blowing smoke in my face while explaining the position to me. Then he says, ‘Well, we would pay you €400.’ And I, horrified, responded, ‘Per week?’ (thinking what kind of shitty salary is €400 a week, I was used to earning around €1200 a week). And he replies, ‘No, no, per month.’ That’s when I started looking around to see where the hidden camera was (obviously, I didn’t find any; I was living pure reality).
In this post, I’m not going to go into detail about everything that has happened to me in these last 19 years because I‘ll leave that for the novel I’m writing about my life, which I hope you’ll love when I finish it (I’ve been writing for about 20 years haha). I can only tell you that throughout this time, I have met wonderful people, some of whom I still keep in touch with, and others not so much, but at the time, each one gave me what I needed when I needed it. I have worked hard, I have continued studying, I have worked in small and large companies, and I have even created my own business. Now I am, as they say, in transition, looking towards the future and seeing the thousands of possibilities I have. Coincidentally, one of them would be to be able to work at Ciudad de la Luz, which would be the happy ending we all want and would return me to the beginning of these 19 years, completing the circle.
*P.S. I have to tell you that this morning I started writing this, and the title I put was “20 years have passed,” but then my daughter came and asked me, “What are you doing?” and I said, “Writing about our 20 years in Spain,” and she said, “Mom, the numbers don’t add up. I’m going to turn 20, and we arrived when I was almost one year old, so it’s 19, not 20.” My dumbfounded face couldn’t be taken away from me, and I said, “Well, I’ve already started the fucking post, so I’ll finish it, and if anything, next year I’ll tell them more of my crap”…