"He was always thinking of what else to do and she told him that it was rare for her, because she had grown up not doing, but being."
From Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I am currently reading the novel, Americanah and when I read this line I had an "Aha!" moment. What I realized is that all of my life I have been focused on what needed to be done, and for the first time in my life I am just being. I am not planning the next trip or checking my to-do list. I am just living.
On a typical day in our old life in Salem, Oregon, Sam would wake up and tell me all the things that he needed to get done that day and then he would ask what was on my agenda for the day. I would strain my early-morning-brain to deliver an answer that suggested that I too had a busy day ahead, and then we would hit the ground running.
Now when we wake up the only agenda is to get the shutters opened and the coffee on the stove. Once that is accomplished we let the day lead us. Sam will wander outside and find things to do, but without that feeling of needing to do any of it. He finds joy in trimming trees and stacking wood. I usually clean up the breakfast dishes and get a load of laundry going and then I go from there. Even days when I mop the floors, I don't feel a sense of needing to do it; I enjoy doing it.
In the past few weeks since I have blogged our being has led us to several places and activities. The week before Christmas we went to Seville (Sevilla in Spanish). We left our house early Sunday morning following a night of heavy rain and wind. The hot water heater was not working that morning so I washed my hair in the kitchen sink with water heated on the stove. When we stepped outside we discovered that a tree had come down in the night, blocking our walkway. Sam said, "Well, this is interesting," and continued on to the car. (We later discovered that it had snapped at the roots, so there was no saving it.) We carefully drove down the mountain noting new erosion and fallen rock from the storm, and then we parked our car in Lanjarón. We took the bus from Lanjarón to Granada and checked into our hotel there.
We enjoyed the festive lights in Granada and ate some tasty food.
|Light in Granada|
|More lights in Granada|
The next day we walked to the train station for our trip to Sevilla. We learned that we would be taking a bus as the tracks are being re-done for high speed rail. Then we discovered that the bus only took us half way and soon we were dumped at another train station where we got the train the rest of the way into Sevilla.
We enjoyed a lovely few days in Sevilla. Our studio apartment seemed luxurious with electric heat, hot water, a shower that you could drive a car into and a fridge full of drinks that was restocked each day, without charge. While in Sevilla we walked and walked; and we ate. We especially enjoyed both a Peruvian and an Italian restaurant. We had planned ahead to go to the Alcazar, but we were having such a good time without an agenda, that we never made it. Next time. Perhaps. The public areas in Sevilla are outstanding with miles of wide walkways along the river, and large public parks where it is easy to get lost in the peaceful setting among fountains and a variety of gardens.
|Yummy food in Sevilla|
|Lights in Sevilla|
|Lots of street performances - we enjoyed the groups of kids.|
|Christmas lights on orange trees|
|In the Plaza de España|
|Beautiful public parks in Sevilla|
We returned to Granada from Sevilla for one more night in Granada and then took the bus back to Lanjarón. It was Christmas eve and our bus driver was clearly the back-up driver so the trip on the winding road into Lanjarón was slightly terrifying. When we got home we discovered a bag hanging on our door. The neighbors had left us Christmas cards and homemade cookies and jam and chutney. It was so lovely to come home to a gift from our wonderful neighbors!
Before we went to bed Sam had cut up the downed tree and repaired the water heater. I had prepared for days without hot water and felt that he had delivered a bit of a "Christmas miracle!"
Our days move slowly, but they also fly past. It is an odd situation. We have already been in our house for five months (and I needed to count them on my fingers three times to be sure!) In ways it feels as if we just arrived, but at the same time it is as if this has always been home.
Last Monday we were working outside when a neighbor who lives way above us called to invite us up for "coffee and cake" at 3:00. We finished up our work, took showers and drove the 20 minutes up the mountain to where this delightful Swedish couple has a vacation home. It was a warm day and we sat on their terrace enjoying the coffee and cake and the outrageous view (like ours, only higher up). As the sun fell over the mountain to the west they invited us inside for wine and snacks around the wood stove. Four hours after arriving we finally said our good-byes and headed back home.
Wednesday we invited the neighbors, who left the Christmas treat on our door, for breakfast at 10:00. I made banana muffins and date nut bread and an Italian Frittata. We enjoy this family of four so much and it was delightful to spend 3-4 hours with them mid-week. The kids had fun following me around the labyrinth that I recently made.
On Thursday Sam and I took a long hike up past the ruin, down to the river and then back along the river to the base of our hill. There is a bit of a path up the hill, but we decided to bushwhack up the sheer cliff, until we finally arrived at the one place in our fence where it is possible to climb over. It was an adventure, but next time we'll take the path.
|Favorite ruin view|
|Another ruin on our walk|
Tomorrow we hope to drive up to the snow with our snowshoes for a little outing and then we will spend New Year's eve with neighbors and friends.
This life suits me. The warm sunshine day after day, the gentle pace, the friendships that come easily with our neighbors...I noticed recently that the crease between my eyebrows - something I've had since I was about 8 years old, is less noticeable. I think that is an indication that I have found the life that I was meant to live.
As we say good-bye to 2016, a year of pain and sorrow for so many, we look to 2017 with many concerns for the United States and because of that, for the world, but when we can pull in and focus on right here and right now, there is joy and peace. And our hope is that our friends and family, around the world, will experience the same, because all we have for sure is now, and all we really need to do is to just be.