For months, we have been asked what is next for our family. As our year abroad in Granada nears its conclusion, the curiosity seems to have increased. Are we going to return to the states? Los Angeles? Our plan was always to return to the US after a year, though moving from Los Angeles in search of a quieter, more peaceful, slightly less chaotic American existence. For now, those plans are on hold.
Assuming our renewal paperwork is accepted, our family will be moving to the southern coast of Spain, in the province of Cadiz, living in beautiful Sotogrande overlooking the majestic Mediterranean Sea. Although we are sad to see our chapter in Granada conclude, we are incredibly excited for this next stage of our adventure.
So how did we get here?
When we first arrived in Granada, we viewed this solely as a one year experience, a complete immersion into another culture, and an opportunity to learn, grow, and seize some incredibly special time as a family. Living in Granada has proved to be the perfect place to accomplish these goals. It has provided such a wonderful canvas for us to inhabit, and it has offered our family incredible, unexpected joys and rewards as well as the challenges inherent with such a dramatic transition into a city and region so steeped in tradition and culture. From language to religion to thousands of years of history, Granada is nothing if not traditional. How incredibly fortunate we are to have lived here over the past year. We have learned so much, and the experience of living abroad has changed us.
As we grew to love more and more about our life in Spain, we began to consider what a longer term stay would mean. What if we didn’t come back after one year?Would we stay in Spain? Would we stay Granada? These questions began to percolate and we started playing out different scenarios and considering different options. So many aspects of Spanish life have agreed with us, and we wondered if we were ready to give up the lifestyle we have here for a return to the states at this time.
Karen, for one, has enjoyed her new role within the family. At the beginning of the year, she declared that, after many years of morning preparation, she would never make breakfast or lunch for the boys again. Although that hasn’t quite been the case, Karen was eager to pass along some new responsibilities to me in my post LA SCORES life and the morning preparation was now one of them. No longer could I plead for an extra hour of sleep after working on grant proposals through the night. Breakfast and lunch were now my responsibilities, and I have taken to them quite well, even earning superhero-like status and my own superhero moniker. I am pretty proud of that. The boys call me Grey Arrow, and I have to say I have enjoyed it.
Karen, for her part, has taken to managing our properties in the US from abroad, and she has done an exceptional job. She has assembled an amazing team of people on the ground to handle our little property management business, and the reviews have been glowing. In the electronic age, there really isn’t anything she can’t manage and coordinate from afar with a team of good people, and she has done a tremendous job to check people in and out, make improvements, and ensure that every client’s needs have been met and exceeded. It has been amazing to watch, and I am proud of her. At the same time, I have a few books in the works along with a couple of other small business endeavors brewing that I am excited about. We have literally changed our life, and we have now become a family that is no longer bound to a particular location by our jobs.
As for the kids, they are doing well too. When we look at photos from last summer, we can hardly believe the physical differences in their appearance, and their emotional transformations seem no less apparent. They have both grown in innumerable ways, and their experience attending public school in Spain has really been invaluable, if not always enjoyable. We know that what we asked them to do is hard, and the adversity they have faced at school has made them so much more resilient. However, in thinking about extending our European adventure, school did become an important consideration. While we couldn’t have asked for a better “experiential learning” environment over the short term, we wanted something different over the long haul. And so that is what we sought and think we have found.
Again, assuming the Spanish government is still interested in having us reside here, Jackson and Cassius will be attending Sotogrande International School. They have visited the school 3 times over the last few months and are very excited. The school has a wonderful International Baccalaureate Program, a wide range of extracurricular activities, a dynamic learning environment, and is comprised of students from 49 different countries. However, classes are taught in English and this will allow Cassius, in particular, to continue learning Spanish at a pace (and within an environment) that is more comfortable for him. At the same time, Jackson will be able to continue to improve his fluency in Spanish with advanced courses and a number of native Spanish speakers at the school. It should be an exciting opportunity for both of them, and we are hopeful that the move will be good for the whole family. Karen is also looking forward to the coastal air along the Mediterranean, and I am excited to begin exploring the wondrous white villages throughout the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga while continuing to lead by example with my domestic, fatherly duties.
Of course, all of this is contingent upon acceptance of visa renewals and paperwork. The Spanish are laid back about everything except bureaucracy, so we aren’t counting out chickens yet. But the plan has been laid out, the paperwork submitted, and the pieces are in place.