28 April 2005

Roller Coaster

What a week! On Monday, we visited the Spanish Consulate for several hours. In Chicago, the consulate said Dar's papers were in order but since I didn't have one thing (which they told our bosses in Spain I didn't need) my visa would not allow me to do missions work OR I had to get two more papers from Spain because I'm now under the new rules and Dar is under the old rules. And by the way my visa was going to take 6 weeks to 3 months and his would only take 2-3 weeks.

It looked like Dar was going to have to go to Spain without me, since he will only have a certain number of days to enter the country when he gets his visa. We were having headquarters call our boss in Spain and him call our cell phone as we're standing on a street corner in Chicago. It was like one of those moments that if you saw in someone elses life you'd be like, "No way." We weren't in tears or anything, but it felt almost like starting over on the paperwork since it takes so long to get stuff from Spain. Blindsided. Some anger too since we'd done all we were told. It was looking like we wouldn't leave for months. Really paralyzing. While we don't want to say goodbye to everyone, we are feeling like we owe it to our supporters to get going.

We spent two very shocked and shaken days. Then yesterday we got another call from Spain. Our area director (the next boss up in line) said we were to have me enter as a resident -- that is technically unable to do missions work. We'll sort out the kind of work I can do on that side of the big pond. Also we are to go to Spain when Dar gets his visa. I will return to Chicago when my visa is ready and pick it up. So time wise we are back on track for a departure sometime in June. Suddenly everything is on and urgent, but this feels better than a quagmire. Jetting back and forth between Madrid and Chicago sounds insane, but our boss said "welcome to missions." My friend L said it might be good because I will know of things I really can't get and really want after a couple months in Spain, so I can do a Walmart run in Chicago.


21 April 2005

Donde esta...?

Tuesday night we were entering a big chain department store, and I was relieved in more ways than one. It was a store that I knew right where the bathroom was, and I needed to use it. I thought how nice it is when you are out in public and you know where the facilities are.

Then I realized I'm about to embark on a journey where I will not know where one single toilet is. Not one. The first and only phrase one needs when traveling is the fateful, "Where is...(fill in the blank)? But most especially the bathroom, toilet, wc. By whatever name you call it, you need to use it. I found the challenge then is understanding the directions to the toilet spoken in a fast foreign language.

Ou est...quoi? In a small town in Belgium, my newly arrived friend and I were seeking a restroom in a restaurant where we had just eaten. I, thinking I was the more advanced in the language, tried to ask the nice lady the all important question. I was trying to be polite so I said, "Ou est la salle de bain?" She couldn't understand and kept saying no. I asked again and again. My newly arrived friend tried the word, "Toi-lette?" Ahhh, now the lady knew. Bascially, I was asking for a shower.

Donde esta el bano? And by the way what does it cost? In Belgium, where we were for two years, the public toilets cost. It wasn't an exorbitant amount, usually 20 or 25 cents, depending on the dollar's exchange rate. You always wanted to have some spare change on you. We're talking everywhere...McDonalds as well as nicer places like hotel lobbies. You paid to pee. A Madame Pepe was posted at each and every entry to collect the prerequisite change. If you were really lucky, she took a nasty looking rag in the stall and wiped the seat for you.

A friend and I, bored one day, added up the cost of peeing for a year. Considering Dar and I both peed outside the house a few times a week, we were spending $75 a year on bathroom visits.

So not only do I wonder, Donde esta el bano en Espana? But does it cost there?

18 April 2005

Goodbyes begin

When are you leaving? That's the way many conversations begin lately. It's a theme. The date of departure has been a vague undefinable point in an unknown future for many months. When it is nebulous, it's less threatening, less real. But that's changing.

Tonight was the second of the goodbyes. I've been avoiding them. I keep telling people, "Oh, we'll see you before we leave, don't worry."

I do mean it, but I'm also trying to avoid the unpleasantness of saying farewell to people that have significance and value to me. It's easier to just fade away, but that's not the way it will happen. The significance has gone both ways and so my friends and comrades won't allow me to quietly disappear. I love the time with the people, so it isn't the goodbyeing that is the problem. The departure is the problem.

Like a potted plant, I have grown happily in my snug corner of Kansas. Now as I prepare to leave and cross the ocean, my roots that have intertwined with many people here are being pulled and torn. I have to be separated from these dear people. While there is some tearing, I get to take pieces of them with me and I hope I am leaving some of myself behind too.

So I begin this blogging in order to sustain and nurture what is here. Yet I recognize that all our relationships will change and mutate into something different as the distance changes our circumstances.

Vive la difference.
(hmmm, I think that's French and I'm suppose to be learning Spanish....)