May 15, 2015
Dear Lucia and Avram,
By the yearlong stretch from my last missive to you to this one, you may have guessed that there was a little hiccup with our move to Spain. The kind of hiccup that means you now live in Vermont.
I’ve been avoiding writing this for exactly six months, which is the amount of time from when we put our new suitcases back on a cramped international flight (again sans Bear and Bunny. I am failing at parenting, but they made it safely here by February.), although they weren’t so carefully packed this go around. It is also the amount of time we have spent battling the coldest winter in Vermonters’ memory and trying to make sure we don’t have any frostbitten fingers to hack off at the hospital.
Now that we can see the backyard that has been hidden under snow, I feel like we are starting to thaw out from the shock and disappointment that is starting your life over again, twice, in two continents, with two small children, in one calendar year. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I encourage you, as adults, to bloom wherever the heck you are planted. There is no one “right” place. Just put your head down and plow ahead.
We found out in October that we had made a critical error with our funds. We had three weeks to evacuate before we had to file taxes as the dumbest Spaniards on the planet and then be stripped of all our burdensome savings.
Well, you guys are Spaniards. There was also the little issue of Mommy having overstayed her EU visa by three months waiting for her residency. “Deported” is not a word I had ever thought would apply to me, but hey…
Mommy might have cried a lot and threatened to chain herself to the lovely terrace railing to prevent leaving. On our way to Bilbao, we joked that both our families had fled persecution in Spain, but we were finally going back. We should have realized they might not be the last ones.
Anyway, we got out with our heads, if not our hearts, intact. We left behind some of the truest friends we’ve ever known, even for the short duration of our acquaintance. Lupe made us an enormous Basque feast at bar Okey on our last night. Eva writes often and is sending her cousin here this summer to expose you two to Basque language and culture and maybe let mommy and daddy go get some wine in peace. Inigo and Leire outfitted you with the sleek scooters that made so much sense in perfectly paved Spain, and are giving you so many head injuries on the bumpy Vermont sidewalks that Mommy gave up and bought you helmets. Sorry. You’ll thank me someday.
Aunt Laura took us all in on short notice, and let us live in her cozy basement for three months until we moved into our lovely 1915 craftsman that is turning into our magnum opus. Once we get out the asbestos, radon, vermiculite, mold, leaky pipes, broken appliances, and ugly wallpaper, we think it will be the perfect place to raise a family. In the meantime, you played with your cousins until they were as tired of you as if you were their own siblings. Avram cried himself to sleep the night he realized we’d moved in here, and we weren’t going back to Aunt Laura’s. You had a great birthday party where we hit the piñata in the snow. In April.
We’ve spent six months telling people that we like snow, that we moved here because your Aunt Laura had been sent here against her will last summer by the military, and that we don’t really know where we’re from anymore. That one confuses the seventh-generation mountain people. We miss our people in Far West Texas every day, but we are one life removed from them already. We try not to read too much news from Euskadi or watch too many Robin Food cooking shows, because our sobbing tends to unsettle you. Even though we appreciate when you put your hand on our shoulder and tell us we’ll be okay, it makes us feel a tinge of guilt.
As Raul, our fruit vendor’s, wife said when I told her our tale of woe while announcing our departure from Bilbao, “Tu tienes otro destino.” We have another destiny. We’re going to be just fine. Welcome to Yankeeland, as we called it in Virginia, or Central Vermont, as it’s known here.
Maybe you can win scholarships for being the only hispanics for miles. Silver linings.