Missing my puppy and kitties.
Henry and AJ
Henry in the dryer, by his own will.
My Aunt Denise’s kitty Cooper!
And yeah.. That’s my cat in a toilet.
Beauty that clothes the outside of the face
Is curséd if it be not clothed with grace.” —‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, John Ford
I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart
I am never without it
Anywhere I go you go, my dear…
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.
I carry your heart I carry it in my heart.” —E.E. Cummings
There’s really no proper way to go about explaining how one has been fired.. Or “let go”, rather. Because no one really believes you when you tell them you were “let go”, you know? I’ll explain and you can decide for yourself. But I mean who am I kidding, why I don’t I just go all out and say I was straight up fired? Gives my adventure a little more dramatic effect. As if it needed any..
It seems like forever ago that I left Amsterdam, an incredible city that I completely fell in love with, for Bilbao, País Vasco. Originally I had planned to spend my summer in Spain working as a nanny for this family with two young boys on their summer holiday from school. The parents had explained to me that I would be working 40 hrs/week and making 100 euros per week, complete with room, board, and plenty of Spanish to practice—a very good deal for a nanny position in Europe.
When I arrived in their small suburban town, a 20 minute subway ride from the city, I felt comfortable and happy. Getxo is a beautiful area right on the northern coast of Spain—you can see for miles as the town sits atop a hill and overlooks a massive cliff that drops dramatically into the ocean. País Vasco itself is widely known for being visually and socially.. Intense. Rolling hills, agriculture, high cliffs, and old even ancient architecture all accompanied by an extensive history of extreme pride and desire for independence from Spain. In País Vasco (Basque Country) they speak Castellano and Euskera or “Basque”, the first is just Spanish and the latter is one of the oldest languages in the world which to this day very little is known about its origins. Not to mention the rather infamous and more or less terrorist group, ETA, was formed here. Even before I arrived I was absolutely fascinated by this country and very excited to experience it. The town itself seemed simple and sweet, easy to get around and plenty to see and do.
Mind you, I arrived at about 11:30pm in the Bilbao airport where both parents picked me up and took me home. I was told I needed to be awake and ready by 8:00 am the next morning, and I was. The first day I was really thrown into everything, you know how when you stay at someone’s house and they tell you to help yourself but they don’t actually show you where anything is? Perhaps not, but that was definitely exactly what my first week was—a crash course in everything. And needless to say, my first week was absolute hell. Interestingly enough though the hell wasn’t stemming from my inability to adapt.. No in fact, I adapted quite well considering the circumstances: time difference, busted right through the supposed “language barrier”, found my way around the town and neighboring cities completely alone, and had no problem with finding great food, wine, and things to do during my free time—what little I had of it.
Actually, all of my misery from the first week had everything to do with the lack of respect from the children for anyone in the household. By three weeks this was of course unbearable, and so I started looking for another option.. Which can prove to be difficult when you’re alone in Europe for six months. One night, after a very difficult day, I decided I would tell the family that something needed to change. But that same night they came to me first.. They told me that they knew I wasn’t happy and that it had been three weeks and wanted to know how I felt. While I suggested that something needed to change, maybe the boys needed to be talked to and we needed to really lay out some rules—the parents suggested I leave. At that point I really had no choice but to find something else to do as soon as possible.
Being me, of course, I returned to my room and bawled my eyes out via Skype to my mother and one of my best friends Emily. Fortunately, Emily is originally from the UK and has lots of contacts throughout Europe. We talked that night and emailed every single person we both knew.. Then all we could really do was wait. In the meantime, I was still working and being paid as an au pair until I could figure something else out. The next morning I went to the market to buy fruit and shop around a bit when suddenly.. I’m looking at a bit of perfume (something I always do to calm my nerves) and I hear ENGLISH. Perhaps the most calming thing I could’ve found in that moment.. So of course I turn around and start chatting with a mother and her daughter, the mother was originally from Canada but had lived in New Zealand for the last 25 years and the daughter was about 10—born and raised a Kiwi. We immediately got along and she suggested that since I have nowhere to go I should stay with them until I figure out what to do with myself. She gave me her email and told me not to hesitate to ask.. And later that night I found myself emailing her to see if I could stay for the weekend.
At first it seemed like such a wild thing for me to do.. It was wild, indeed, I’ve never anything like this before. But I had a feeling about this woman and her daughter. That weekend that I stayed with them was one of the best of my life. We ate well, made cookies, drank wine, talked for hours, and drunkly danced to Shakira in the backyard. The mother and I could have talked for hours, days even. That weekend, another one of my good friends from Seattle theatre contacted me and told me that one of her oldest friends lives in Barcelona and would love to take me in for a while.. I just about died. Barcelona had been a city of my dreams for the longest time, and further reaffirmed as such by watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona. So I bought the next train ticket to Barcelona and headed out Monday morning. I left behind a family I had grown to love in just a few days and headed through Spanish wine country and La Rioja to find a new and more permanent place to stay.
They picked me up in the Barcelona train station and introduced me to their family and their flat.. They also suggested in that very same day that they had some lovely neighbors who had a little more room in their apartment and a little girl who needed a little taking care of in the mornings. We went over to visit, had dinner, and took a little walk around the city.. And I adored them. The mother spoke mostly Spanish and the father, mostly Catalan—I knew this would be a great opportunity to experience an entirely new culture that I have previously only studied. So we worked out a great plan: I would take care of their little one every morning from about 8 am until about 3 pm and then have the rest of the day to go around the city and do as I please. Although I wasn’t being paid, I was happy to have a roof over my head, a place to eat and practice Spanish, and moreover a family who was kind, respectful, and truly loving. After two weeks in Barcelona and too many beautiful, sexy, dazzling, and inexplicable nights in the city.. The family said they were going on holiday and that I was welcome to come along. And though I was reluctant to leave Barcelona (I probably could have stayed there forever..) I jumped on a little vacation with this lovely family. And we went to La Costa Brava, a beautiful region of Cataluña just North of Barcelona on the coast and with a beautiful beach. Lazy, beachy days in the sun and the mediterranean sea.. Could not have been more relaxing and beautiful. It also allowed me plenty of time to just sit down, think, and reflect.. I love to just think.
Meanwhile I had made further plans through my life saving best friend Emily.. She has lots of family and friends in London and one family which was ready to take me with wide open arms. So I made arrangements to leave from the airport in Girona on the 10th of August for London Gatwick. At this point I had done plenty of dragging around my giant bags through airports, subways, metros, trains etc all by myself so getting to the house in London by myself no longer seemed intimidating like it might’ve just a few weeks ago. And amazingly enough.. Everything went my way, or the way I had planned anyway! Despite the fact that I had to put on about three pounds of extra clothing including my new heels from Zara which were rather heavy, and with my new trenchcoat (also Zara..) in order to make my bags about the correct weight.. They were still 10 kilos overweight but somehow my Spanish father wooed the woman behind the desk because she let me go without paying a single euro more for my overweight baggage. Needless to say I was pleased and smiling beyond all reason.
There were also plenty of tears upon leaving Barcelona, my family, and that little girl.. And now I’m in London, with another family who I am quickly getting to know and adore. They’re constantly singing, talking, and laughing. And I’m beginning to fit in quite easily! The mother is currently the Production Manager for a play called DNA at a small youth theatre in London, her daughter is in the play, and I am taking part as the Assistant Production Manager. I’ve only been to one rehearsal thus far, but I can already tell it’s going to be a good thing for me. A great way for me to observe and think about how I might go about in all aspects of theatre myself..
Cannot wait to start LAMDA but I’m glad I’ve got a little time between now and then to get to know London and get as much reading and monologue rehearsal in as I can! Oh and did I mention that my really fabulous camera broke? Well it did, and the only thing that was fabulous about it was that it took some good pictures but half the time it never turned on anyway. WAT A PIECE. So now I’ve got to find a new one and I’m furious. Until then, just posts about random little snippets of London. All in all I think this has been a great experience.. Having things not go your way can actually be a good thing.
It’s only been a dream for the longest time… I’m without words!
And I know I’ve said it a billion times already.. But I will be clarifying the whole fired/homeless situation. I’ll write it on the plane! Until then let’s just hope Thomson Airlines doesn’t force me to unpack my rather overweight bag and wear all of my clothes on the plane to London. Hot. Mess.
How it is possible that people here can look so sexy all the time. It’s so damn HOT.
But Spain is sexy. So whateverrr.
I am in love with this city. I do not want to leave. Here’s just a glimpse of things. The internet connection in Las Ramblas is a little lacking…
La Sagrada Familia
More later! Aghhh this took SUCH A LONG TIME.