At the end of October, we headed to the beach again–this time to Marbella to celebrate Karen’s birthday. We stayed at the Marriott, which is perched over the Mediterranean and spent the entire weekend in close proximity to the resort grounds. Although it was probably the least Spanish thing we have done since moving to Spain, it did provide us with its own cultural experience. The resort was filled with families from all over Europe, and we met a nice family from Vienna that we are going to try and connect with over the holidays. There were also many people from the UK, and it was nice to give our evolving Spanish a rest and speak English for a few days. The Marriott also provided a number of our “comfort foods” and the boys weren’t too upset to find burgers, quesadillas, nachos, and chicken nuggets on the menu.
But we went to Marbella for Karen. She loves the ocean, and the resort is laid out spectacularly. From the gracious flowers and trees that line the property to the elegant manner it slopes down to the shore, it really is a feast for the eyes. And we took family walks on the beach, laid by the pool, swam, played volleyball, and even got a couples massage on the beach with the sound of the waves ruffling through our ears. It all felt very decadent by our standards, and we tried to make the most of it.
At the end of the weekend, it felt like Marbella had been a perfect place to celebrate this wonderful occasion. We enjoyed the familiarity of the Marriott. A Marriott is a Marriott after all. But we were equally taken by the international experience shared with people from all over the globe. In some ways, these three days encapsulated the space and time our family is living in–wrapped in the stimulating unfamiliarity most easily experienced between the world one leaves behind and the world one inhabits.
The late great David Bowie articulated this sensation perfectly. He likened it to that moment you venture out into the ocean just past the depth where your toes can touch the bottom. Bowie lived his entire life moving beyond the boundaries of his comfort zone. It’s exactly how he knew he was where he should be, and it was a central part of what made him such a daring artist. This year, more than any other, our family can identify with that.