Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Madrid Diary II: Muy Contento


This is one of those tiny stories about a moment where the portal between two humans opens and a kind of golden light buzzes back and forth. The last time I wrote about a tiny moment was the little girl in a car, she waved at me, I waved back, portal opened.

Portals are always opening. Like when a dog walks by. I swear I heard the one with the black eye say, Hola, me gusto mucho el queso and I said, sure, I like cheese very much too. But this isn't about the dogs of Madrid although that may be another piece.

This is about me wandering around by myself, not lost but lost. Not knowing anyone, looking to find a place for a beer and a bite to eat. My legs were wobbly because it can be exhilarating and weird to be alone in a city you don't know and barely speaking the language. It's the twin thing:

anxiety and aliveness

I've been riding both waves this week.

I'd been at El Bar de los Bocadillos where two women sat next to me eating calamari sandwiches. One had on a red coat, which I liked very much. I also like having two women sitting next to me eating and chatting. It didn't feel at all like Donald Trump hovering behind Hillary. Zero danger.

When I wasn't locking eyes with people looking in the window, I watched the soccer game. In my journal I wrote, sitting here in this little food place, Spanish raining over me like a school of goldfish. ba ba ba de de de Real Madrid was scoring like crazy. The players were muy guapo.


Anyway, after somehow accidentally asking for ginger ale or lemonade in my beer, not good, I left thinking, I'd better get back. Then, jeez, Betsy, six year olds stay up later than you. This is Spain! Almost home, I peeked in the window of a small place with a handful of patrons. Another game was on. A handsome older man sat at the bar, two women working: Carmen and Fanny.
And that's how I ended up sitting for two hours with Manuel, Manolo, Lolo - gracious human, 9 brothers, 1 sister, a medical doctor, who patiently pieced together a conversation half-Spanish, half-English, and a mix of stuff I made up. Lolo smiled and kept saying me gusto me gusto!  

The easiest thing off my tongue was 

muy contento, muy contento!

Another beautiful portal.

xo b

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Madrid Diary I

Madrid Diary
October 15, 2016

Okay, so some questions I ask myself:

What's it like to go someplace new? It doesn't have to be another town, city, country. What about where you live? How often do you drive the very same road to work, and then the very same road home? Have you ever turned down that leafy side street to see what's there? Have you ever allowed yourself to do something all by yourself, even if it's driving down that leafy side street you've never gone down? Or go to a movie solo? How does it feel to not know what's around the corner? What feelings rise up in your body when you're out of the proverbial comfort zone? What is your comfort zone? What does it look like, feel like, smell like? Do you love it as much as I love mine?

my home
my big bed
my kitchen
my backyard
my supermarket
my bathroom
my family
my friends
my neighborhood

I love my comfort zone so much that I get strung out going to the local supermarket. Some days, even that is too much. Too many people, too many choices. When I get back to my house, the dog, the red kitchen, the quiet; my body settles. 

Home. Nest. Comfort Zone.

On Wednesday night, I left my comfort zone and got on a plane to Madrid. Packing was a tizzy, passport, getting there, the plane itself with aisles made for paper dolls, the guy across from me with a horrible nasal issue laughing out loud watching Finding Dory. At midnight, I put my coat on my head and tried to sleep. So, not in my comfort zone. 

Every time I leave my small country of comfort, I grow. I shed a shell. I cut loose from a certain way of being and seeing myself, and the world around me.  There's a jolt of aliveness (which I dub anxiety). However,

Aliveness is not anxiety.

Aliveness is anxiety's sister. Dizzy, breathy, tingling in all sorts of body parts, the heart hammering, until you tease out what's really happening of course you want to lock the door and stay put. Most of us don't tease, we retreat before ever getting out the door. But if we want to live our one precious life we must at least open the door.

I'm grateful to my husband, children, dear friends who remind me that my pre-trip anxiety is nothing new (I have it every time + they listen to my worries every single time). When I'm walking new streets, attempting a new language, riding the metro (solo!) they hear the alive me on the phone, in texts, or jaunty emails. Oh my, isn't she now the adventurous one.  

Never  do they say, I told you so.

Aliveness is not anxiety

Anxiety will not kill you (it wants your attention - so said favorite therapist 100 years ago)

Do ONE THING new, different, off the usual path, surprise yourself.

Wear orange. 
Pack a carry-on for 2 weeks, unless it's the Arctic. Mittens take up a lot of space.
Trust that what's around the corner is waiting for YOU with open arms. 
Tell a friend you feel scared, they'll gently push you on your way.

open the door. 
step out. 
look around.
start here.

🌀namaste. xo b

Sunday, October 2, 2016

a little more room

I drink tea.

Every day begins with one cup of Irish Breakfast regular, then another cup of decaf, usually adding hot water to the mug. I switch to Earl Grey. Add more hot water as needed.

Splash of milk, no sugar.

If only for five minutes, I go back to bed, warm mug between my hands, close to my chest. Something about the heat in my hands, the shape and smoothness of the mug. Most mornings, despite the calmness of my bedroom, I wake with a rush of busy-ness in my head. Lists, concerns, what's on the calendar for the week. Sometimes a wave of sadness sweeps over me. My father's laugh. My mother's voice. Yesterday I felt the thump of my old cat, Owen, jumping on the bed and waited for the heavy warmth of his body on mine. But the last time I saw Owen was a year ago.

It was a warm August night.
He loved being outside.
He sat on the steps, looked over his shoulder at me,
then walked into the dusky backyard.

I never saw Owen again.


Something about the boiling water, the same white mug, the steeping of the tea, the holding of the mug, the first sip. The warmth against my solar plexus, cupped hands.

Something about that creates a pause.

The pause says, oh look at the yellow leaves on that tree, of course you miss your mother, father, cat.  Where did you go, Owen? Love is the answer. I miss my husband across the country. Yes, you're wondering how this whole thing is going to turn out, breathe, sip, hold me against your heart, fear not, how is this all working out, 

you contain everything. 

I wrestle with those feelings, get out get out, but some days I'm a warm mug of tea, a spacious container of all this life.  I make a little more room. 

I drew a little picture of my mug.
I wrote a little story inside the picture.
I sipped my tea 
I relaxed.