The Vacation Endeth

I am about to start a new job next week.

My previous job ended November of last year. I worked from home, in the evenings and at night, for over a year. So I basically had my entire day free nearly every day. And I could work from anywhere, including any country I happened to be in. Including beach side cafes in the South of Spain, hotels in Tuscany, or at my brother’s house in Rhode Island. If I worked from my house in Spain, I had a couch, refrigerator, a sunny balcony and if I wanted, the whole city at my disposal.

So maybe you can understand that I was feeling a little apprehensive to be going back to an office everyday. But I needn’t worry, because the Spanish workday looks nothing like you average American workday.

The average work day here begins later, because everyone gets up later. I hear there are cafes open as early as 7am, though I have never been up that early to verify, other than to stumble off to the airport, and from what I have seen it is still dark out at that hour. No, the majority of the workers get going around 10am, meaning they are dressed and heading toward the office, usually with a stop on the way for a coffee con leche, or a coffee with a shot brandy (or two if they had a rough night). Then it’s into the office for some serious productivity. If any of the blue collar workers began work earlier, say 9am, they will take a break at 10 for that coffee or perhaps even a beer. It helps to be relaxed when operating heavy machinery.

At 2pm, it’s time for siesta. In the city centers, that means lunchtime, and it lasts anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. Lunch in any local restaurant is a three course affair, (sometimes four) called a menu del dia, and includes beer or wine and a coffee at the end of the three courses. So naturally you’d need at least a couple of hours to ingest all those courses those restaurants insist on serving you.

Around six, it’s time to call it quits. Many people rush home at this point to have an actual siesta before they go running, biking, or hit the gym; or they’ll exercise and then have a siesta. Because everyone exercises and then everyone goes out. To bars, to cafes, for a paseo through town, maybe dinner, sometimes out until very late, but just out – to meet with friends and be with others. Then it’s to bed whatever time they collapse into it.

So I think my adjustment will go smoothly, as I am well practiced in the above workday pace. I also have a backup plan that involves snacks.

See, your brain needs fuel to function well. And I will be writing and using my brain for this new job. Therefore I will have to feed it. So I will stockpile snacks in my desk to emulate the full kitchen I have had at my disposal every working hour for the past year and a half.

Snacks are also good for building status in the office. If you offer snacks by means of a bowl that people who pass by your desk can stick their hands in, they will feel obligated to pause and chat with you out of politeness. Your awesomeness is reinforced if said snacks happen to be high quality and delicious.

My strategy is rock solid.

(By the way, this job is going to be awesome.)

Three Years.

It was an afternoon in late May of 2003, and I had some quasi work meeting someone else had arranged at the motorcycle dealership JM was managing. I was observing him closely for the first time, in profile, while he looked at his work computer in his little office at Spectrum Motorsports. He played with the tidy soul patch he kept under his lip and peered through his stylish glasses. He leaned forward in his chair, presumably to relieve the sciatica from a bulging disc he was suffering from those days. And just as he leaned forward, it was as if he suddenly started to sparkle, and I realized what a good looking man I was having a meeting with.

We kept talking business, but for the remainder of the meeting an additional agenda snuck its way into my side of the conversation. I could see he was responding to it, so I kept it up, trying to impress him with my bike knowledge and experience. I’m sure to an outsider I sounded a fool, but I know now that he did not care; he was viewing me through the other side of the sparkly lens.

It took one full month for him to ask me on a date. Ten months later, we snuck off to the county offices and were married.

And then, just after our fourth wedding anniversary, he died. That was three years ago today.

A lot of stuff happened in between. And presumably, I am still processing some of it because I still dream of John-Mark weekly. Or rather, he is in my dreams weekly, they are not necessarily about him.

In these dreams I am back in my old life in San Diego, in my old house, and JM is is always there. He, and my life, are as they were and whatever is happening in the dream, in  my life, is just taking place as normal. Sometimes I am mad at him, sometimes we are traveling somewhere, sometimes we are talking. I never think to ask him questions because while I am dreaming, everything is as it was and I don’t realize he is gone and that in my waking life I am living in Spain and in another relationship. My dreaming life hasn’t yet caught up to my waking life. Or maybe my dreaming life is pulling me back to try to resolve all that can never be resolved between us.

And it never truly can be. Oh sure, I can come to terms with things and let things go or “get over it” as some idiots like to offer as (useless) advice. But I’ll never know who he was on his way to becoming or what dreams he would achieve. I’ll never know how the story above was supposed to play out…

So I will appreciate what I have now. Everything and every friend and every family member and person in my life. And know that I am not alone in missing him.