The Final Push
Gonzalo’s last day at work was October 11, 2019. He turned in the company car, phone and laptop. His insurance benefits and 401k match are now gone, as well. It is one thing to talk about a grand adventure. It is quite another to step away from the material comforts and security that our corporate jobs have provided.
He left for Spain on October 12, 2019, and I am here flying solo with our 2 daughters and 2 Yorkipoos. On November 4 we will board a TAP Airlines flight from Chicago to Madrid, but until then, there is much to do. This is the final push.
With Gonzalo in Spain, we are down to one driver – me! Since our home is now rented, we are living in a small, historic cottage in the country that my daughter found on Airbnb. Getting the kids to school involves a 20-minute drive to the high school, then 10 minutes to the middle school, then another 20-30 minutes for me to get to work, depending upon my location for that day. Then I run the one-hour return trip back to the Airbnb. This is already 2 hours of driving each day.
I also need access to the city or the suburbs for errands and Daughter # 1 is in marching band. That means additional drop-offs and pick-ups for rehearsals, football games, and competitions. I am getting a taste of what it must be like to drive for Uber.
Meanwhile, Gonzalo is 7 hours ahead in Spain, so we talk during the day but not at night. He is a Type A, hyperactive, get-things-done-yesterday kind of guy. The Spanish siesta begins at 2:00 and businesses close for 3 to 3.5 hours before reopening in the evening. And some do not reopen, like banks and government offices. This is beyond frustrating for him. You have to be up early for business or shopping, or you could lose a full day. Then there are the holidays, festivals, and vacations. “When do they work?” he wonders. Everyone keeps telling him to relax and that the culture is different in Spain. Anyone who knows Gonzalo will laugh. “Relax” is not in his DNA.
Thankfully, he did finally open a bank account (another story for another day), so I can transfer some money via TransferWise. The search for housing and a car is still ongoing and is a completely different learning curve.
He also received his NIE, which is an identification number that foreigners must get within 30 days of arrival. US passports work fine for up to 90 days, but because we are staying longer on student visas, the NIE is required for us.
In order to get the NIE, you must have an address. No one will rent to you without the NIE, though, so it is the classic chicken and egg conundrum. Thankfully, his childhood friend Ana and her Spanish spouse Pepe have taken him in until he finds a place to live. They went with him to their local police station in Castellón de la Plana and signed some paperwork listing their address as his address. That allowed him to get the NIE.
Meanwhile, I am still working full-time, caring for kids and pets, and running the Uber service. I am dealing with insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and paperwork to wrap things up here.
I have emailed the school counselors, attended parent/teacher conferences, and tracked down a new orthodontist in Valencia. I also picked up the pro-rata refund check for unused orthodontia here and deposited it. Our old homeowner’s policy refunded the unused insurance premium and I will endorse that to the mortgage lender so they can deposit it and recalculate the escrow. The new homeowner’s policy that allows renters in our home has already been paid. The kids need haircuts, glasses for Daughter #1 need tightening, and I need to drop off her choir formal at the dry cleaner.
The Airbnb is full of stuff that needs to be sorted and organized. Which items go to the basement storage unit in our Olathe home? What goes with us to Spain? I have a to-do list that is inhumane and have I mentioned that I still work full-time?
I feel emotionally drained and physically, the adrenaline is pumping to push through all of this. I am kind of worried about my health because this “too much” overloaded, overwhelmed feeling has been with me for several months. It is now reaching its climax.
I am worried about my parents’ health and wish so much they could travel to spend the winter with us. Thankfully, my brothers live nearby, but 9 months will be a long time away from them.
I am also grieving because I love my work and the goodbyes will be difficult. My clients are like family and I am emotionally invested in them and in their lives. I have not yet submitted my resignation so it would be inappropriate to tell them I am leaving. In my role, I will be immediately dismissed when I give notice. Thus, I have to keep this under wraps for a bit longer.
I am tired of the secrets and of feeling like I am holding my breath. I just want to let everyone know about our happy new adventure and to have everything out in the open.
Meanwhile, Daughter #2 has accordion lessons every week and we are trying to see our doctors to take care of medical stuff before we leave. Go to the bank. Run to Wal-Mart.
I am grouchy because we need to keep auto insurance on our Prius while we are gone. Why? Because there is no good storage policy option. If we cancel coverage, then when we return, the carriers will consider us high risk due to lapse and shoot our rates way up. Ridiculous. We will carry a comprehensive policy for the 9 months it is parked in our garage.
I called the Toyota dealership and was advised to put some STP in the tank so the gas doesn’t go bad and to have someone drive the car every week. Weekly? Not gonna happen. Ok, then monthly, but hopefully the battery won’t die. It is a hybrid and popping for a new battery when we return would be a bummer.
I went back to our house on Saturday to do yard clean-up and minor repairs for the renters. I thought it would take 2 hours but it took 4 hours. Why? Because there was one of me, not two of us. Gonzalo is in Spain.
Daughter # 1 was at a marching band performance. Daughter # 2 hung out with a friend 2 doors down and wouldn’t go into our house to help me. She was crying because she misses her house and wants to live in it.
I have rented a mini-van to drive to Chicago for the flight. I still need to figure out the route and reserve a pet-friendly hotel somewhere along the way. I have euros in my wallet, but no dollars. I need to get some cash (dollars) for the tolls.
Just do the next thing. Do the next thing. Do the next thing.
The place where a dream meets reality is really hard. “How committed are you, really?” asks the dream, while being taunted and tortured by reality. I am now homeless and my husband is in a foreign country. All my stuff is in the basement storage, being used by the renters, or in suitcases at a short-term rental. I can’t get off the ride now. I can only see it through and stay positive, thinking of the adventure to come. This is the final push.