Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pros and Cons

Five unexpected things I miss about San Francisco while being here in Spain, (thus not counting the obvious like seeing my friends and my cats). Another description might be - "things I had always taken for granted, but hopefully will be less likely to do so when I get back".

  1. Playing the piano
  2. The view of the city and the Bay Bridge from my bedroom window
  3. Living just half a block from Dolores Park, so that for instance, if there is a demonstration or festival of some kind, I can hear the music right from my place and go check it out, or not.
  4. Watching "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" every night before going to bed
  5. The actual physical proximity of all of my books, so that I can just hop up and check something if needs be.

There's a certain irony about this list, as - for example - I don't think I'd seriously played the piano more than a couple of times between Christmas and March, and now I feel the need to almost like a physical ache.

Five unexpected pleasures while in Spain:

  1. The enormously satisfying sense of achievement upon accomplishing some perfectly everyday task, which would be mundane to the point of boring at home, such as sending a package to the U.S., buying an alarm clock, or figuring out how the subway system works. Conducted in a different language, in a foreign location, these become successes to take pride in.
  2. Rediscovering a sense of adventure that had been fairly deeply buried and accessing it to overcome my sense of reserve about talking to strangers, trying new foods and experiences.
  3. The ice-cream (I know; from the sublime to the ridiculous, but - God - it's just so freaking good)
  4. Discovering that I, a night-owl who always struggled with the earlybird aspects of American life, am - by comparison - a regular morning person here in España. In this aspect, at least, I am back among my own people.
  5. The sheer joy I take in learning Spanish, and I don't use the term "joy" lightly. My personality type (INTJ), if one can believe the stuff that is written about such types (and I think a grain of salt is well-advised), delights in making connections among the different components of any system. And of course, ultimately, that is what mastering a language is all about. So perhaps it's not surprising that I get such a kick out of it. What I had forgotten, until coming here, was just how big of a kick it is.

I suspect 1 and 2 are pleasures that are experienced by almost anyone living abroad for any length of time, 5 if they have the inclination.

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