From California to Catalunya

Each morning around 8:45am I wrestle to get my wriggly little toddler clipped into the Ergo Baby. It’s our usual morning dance as part of my attempt to get her to daycare on time. She attends a beautiful nature-daycare nestled in the vineyards of Sant Pere de Ribes called, La Mandarina, just a quick 10 minute drive up the hill but certainly too far to walk from our flat in Vilanova i La Geltru.

We make it out the door and head towards the parking garage a couple of blocks away. By this time Estel has accepted her fate and is no longer wriggly in the baby carrier. We turn the corner and I give a good-morning nod to my favorite escombriaire which means street sweeper in Catalan. Our worlds collide every weekday morning at this time, no question.

And I love this part of each day.

Flashback to my life in San Diego, California. Life was groovy, life was chill. We had a close community of friends, my family living nearby, we had our favorite sushi bar that we frequented once per week, and even our favorite Spanish restaurant for when my husband was homesick. (He is from Barcelona).

While life was good, there was always a question in the back of our minds about our next step as a family. Do we stay living in our hipster tiny-home that we clearly outgrew the day we moved in? Do we sell the tiny house and move into an overpriced normal-sized home? Or do we see what else is “out there”? Since we both worked from home, we had plenty of time to share daydreams and ideas about our next step over lunch, over dinner or during our evening walks with the dog. The daydream that kept coming back around in conversation was living in Spain.

We toyed with this idea for months. My husband, having an American dream, was hesitant at first, and I had my own hesitations as well like leaving my family, not being totally fluent in Spanish nor Catalan and therefore unable to work right away. And the list goes on. But the fact that this daydream kept coming back around gave us the courage to really consider it and challenge our worries. One week it was as if we were 100% into the idea and would start looking into how to make it happen, the next week we would have some heart-warming experience in our San Diego life and throw the whole idea of moving to Spain out the window.

So we let time pass as we were clearly too conflicted. As time went on we still spoke about living in Spain but in smaller and smaller doses. Life in San Diego had become even more comfy and I was starting to do more work I truly enjoyed. Then one day my husband said his job was relocating him to Europe, to Barcelona. Since he is the main breadwinner of the family that meant we were being relocated. I could not believe it!  I remember this moment very clearly – walking through the kitchen, with an oversized cup of coffee in my hand, in my flip-flops, enroute to sit out on the front patio and soak in some California sunshine. Suddenly I was stopped in my tracks and frozen by the shear synchronicity of it all. The bells rang loudly, WE ARE MOVING TO SPAIN.

Whoa. This is really happening.

The next few months were a whirlwind as you can imagine. We decided to sell the tiny house since it was the height of the real estate market and because the thought of dealing with renters gave us too much anxiety. As luck would have it the house sold faster than we had planned which meant two months hopping between various Airbnb’s until our departure. While I was happy to quit my job of 6 years I mourned the feeling of bringing in my own income, having a career and a team to be a part of. Moving to Spain would mean I would be unemployed until who knows when. I had always imagined myself “staying in the game”, “leaning in” and “sitting at the table” even so soon after the birth of our daughter. Perhaps it is my American conditioning, who knows. So I decided just to be a good sport about the whole thing. I said yes to the adventure and no to the career (for now) and quit my job. The blessing was that I was immediately able to spend quality time with friends and family before leaving. This was incredibly bittersweet. Half of me was excited and full of wonder, the other half of me wondered if I was making huge mistake. What helped me sleep at night was knowing that my 80 year old self would be very cross if I didn’t say yes to this opportunity.

Flash-forward to the present. As I type, my daughter is napping so hard after a fun day at nature-daycare, I just finished eating a delicious paella for lunch made by my husband and I’m one week away from finishing my first semester of Catalan language courses. At around 6pm, my husband will emerge from his home office and we will take the dog and our toddler out-and-about town for gelato. Life in Spain is even more groovy, even more chill.

I get asked all the time by friends in California how we feel about living abroad. They share their own daydream of living in Europe or just anywhere else than where they are now. My answer is always the same, especially if their daydream won’t go away, “Do it!”.

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See Diane’s latest creative projects, collaborations and events by following her Instagram @dianeserra or by visiting her blog at www.dianeserra.com

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