An Anniversary

One year ago today I first stepped foot on Spanish soil as a permanent resident, joining Brian, who had arrived here six months earlier for his new gig, and Hobo, who had traveled here three weeks earlier.

Hugh and Brian on La Rambla

What a year it’s been. What started out as a dream to retire to Spain after we fell in love with the place on our first visit in 2013 evolved into a plan to move here after I got my Irish — and, by extension EU — citizenship and Brian refocused his job search to Spain, eventually landing his current gig. The former development permits us both to live and work legally anywhere in the EU and the latter, of course, made the economics of it possible.

Brian immediately set about leading significant change and growth efforts at work. He has earned accolades for which he has already been promoted and given ownership of highly visible projects whose success is critical to the future of his company.

I took myself back to school and set about building our tribe here in Barna. Having now earned a certificate in teaching English, I help folks improve their conversational English through one-on-one coaching. My primary gig, helping people relocate to BCN, came about through a friendship I made early last summer with the owners of a boutique relocation agency here. I’m only a couple of months into the job and I love it. I am, by nature, a connector of people and a community builder, so this job is a natural fit.

As for Hobo, well he truly has become a big city dog who no longer needs a soft grassy patch on which to poop; any available surface will do when the call of nature comes, whether that be the hardened soil of an urban tree well, a slate sidewalk, a cobblestone street, or even an iron manhole cover. He has his own mental map of the labyrinthian streets of our neighborhood and he leads the way on his twice-daily walks, pursuing his self-assigned patrols, methodically investigating and documenting the mountains of data his nose produces. He spends some time each day surveying his kingdom from his perch on a balcony five stories above the street, but his two favorite activities are lying in puddles of sunlight and cuddling with his two people.

By all measures, life here has exceeded every hope and expectation. As I close out my first year, I still experience moments of wonder and disbelief as I move about the city at large thinking “we LIVE here!” but this is balanced out by a strong sense of belonging to our neighborhood of Gràcia, where I routinely run into people I know on the streets and folks in our favorite shops & restaurants & cafes know us, if not by name, at least by appearance.

This anniversary is inspiring me to re-commit to documenting our adventures on a website called Donatree Diaries. Stay tuned for details on that!