As soon as Jan. 1, 2015, hit, I KNEW I had an emotional year ahead of me. Spencer and I spent the day walking around Madrid, as we normally did on a beautiful day, talking about the new year and what it might look like. We had great travel plans, tons of friends and family coming to visit, so much to explore in the city, however it would be the year we had to say goodbye to our beloved Madrid and there was not one ounce of me that was even a little ready to do that. That thought lingered in the back of my mind every single day. I’d drink wine and eat tapas and realize, “wow, next year at this time, I’ll be paying five times this amount for a mediocre glass of wine and finding good tapas will be like finding a needle in a haystack.” What a Debbie Downer, I know, but thoughts like that always persisted, and as sad as it would make me at times, it was also a steady reminder to take advantage of every single second I had left in Spain and in Europe.
The first seven months of 2015 were perfect. They were filled with all things Spain, travel, friends and family, and pure joy—every single thing I love. We most definitely took advantage. However, after moving back to DFW in July, I quickly sunk into a deep depression as I tried to figure out how I fit back into life in the States and with my family. I cried (in private or in public) almost daily as I felt Spain and that life I loved so much moving further and further away from me. There would be moments when I couldn’t remember the name of a metro stop, or I’d check my weather app and Madrid’s forecast would appear, or I’d see posts from other travelers in Madrid and my heart would sink as Spain distanced itself more with each passing day. STILL about once a week someone asks, “Do you miss Spain?” (a kind intention, I realize that) and I have to fight this ugly urge to slap them across the face. I don’t know why that question is so painful. YES, I miss it with everything that I am. I miss it as if someone close to me has died. It’s a sticky kind of grief that I’ve been sorting through. It’s hard to explain and hard to understand—but it’s my grief nonetheless and it’s played a large role in shaping the end of my year.
It wasn’t until the end of December (yes, like a week ago) that the ice has finally started to melt and I’ve felt a bit happier. And thank goodness, because who wants to end the year on a melancholy note? As tough as half of this year was, I love to look back. From Texas, to Turkey, to Spain, there were so many sweet memories, growth opportunities, and exciting reminders of all that has yet to come.
A look back
We kicked off the year with our friend, Frankie, and her kitty, who visited us from the north of Spain. As soon as she left, we celebrated Dia de los Reyes, with a visit from dad! He made it to Madrid about 6 more times between January and May and each time was better than the last. Having him constantly present in Madrid, laughing and sharing endless beers, and meeting the following morning for Starbucks was definitely a highlight of my two years in Spain.
More visitors followed dad—our camp friends Barbara and Denis came for a visit! We took a day trip to Toledo (many more of those to come—I’m a Toledo tour guide extradoinare), enjoyed fresh market breakfasts every morning, played plenty of cards, and ran all around the city.
After this we rode the bus down to Granada and finally got the taste of Andalucia that we’d been craving for so long!
In February we ventured to Istanbul (shoutout Turkish Air!) and explored a bit of Eurasia!
In March more camp friends came to visit. We never stopped laughing (or shopping!) with Tonya and Carla at our side.
Right after our friends left, we jumped on a plane and met Spencer’s family in Edinburgh, Scotland! This dreary, mysterious, Harry Potter-esque city now sits at the top of my favorites list.
For spring break, we found ourselves in Alsace, France, AKA a real-life fairy tale.
From France, we flew to Copenhagen where we ate like royalty, spent all our money, and nearly froze.
Following Copenhagen, we ended spring break in Stockholm, Sweden, where just when we thought it couldn’t get any colder, we were proven wrong. Stockholm, I’ll be back to better explore your nooks and crannies in warmer temperatures.
At the end of April, my high school friends who live in Germany came for a quick visit! Megan, Carson, Spencer and I enjoyed plenty of sangria and sunshine and planned one more getaway while we were all on the same continent.
After this, I nervously found myself at my first travel blogging conference in Lloret del Mar, just north of Barcelona! When I realized the conference was in Spain that year, I couldn’t find an excuse to not attend, so Courtney from Adelente and I dove right in together. It was a blast making connections and meeting some of my photography and blogging idols in real life!
The next weekend, we met up with those aforementioned high school friends in Ibiza. This was such a fabulous weekend we never wanted to end. Ibiza completely blew me away (maybe because we were there right before the reckless summer season started), but wow! I’ve never seen beaches quite like that.
At the end of May, my whole family finally came out to visit and I was so excited to show off my city to them.
In June some of our best friends, X and Hil, came to visit and the fun never stopped. The weather was warm, the terraces were poppin’, and it most definitely made for one of my favorite times in Madrid.
At the end of June, I tearfully wrapped up school (yes, somehow we did have time for jobs!), loved on all my favorite fourth graders, packed up our little piso, and quickly jumped on a plane for Croatia because why not.
We spent several days in Zagreb, Plitvice National Park, and Istria and found amazing food and scenery around every single corner.
After this, I jumped on flight 37 MAD-DFW and cried the whole way home… but you already know that story.
At the end of July, I spent a week at that camp I love so much. It always comes when I need it most!
In September, I visited Spencer in Minneapolis and had a ball exploring everything that wasn’t the Mall of America this time.
Oh, I also started working as a photographer with Hilary Grace Photography and started working as a marketing/social media director for Dallas’ coolest, newest brewery, OHB! I love beer and I love photography, so if I can’t be in Spain, this is the next best thing!
In November, our Spanish friends came to Texas for Thanksgiving and it POURED rain the entire length of their visit. Mother nature didn’t even stop to take a breath. But that didn’t stop us from eating all the Mexican food, dancing all the country dances, and doing short city tours from inside the warm, dry car.
In December, I was finally able to visit my brother, some family, and my friend Rachel in Malibu and LA!
Aaaand we rang in the New Year in good old Keller, Texas, with some high school friends.
This year, I’m looking forward to a trip to Portland; possibly White Sands, New Mexico; Calgary, Canada; the Grand Canyon; and Christmas in Hawaii! Lots of North America travel, but maybe there will be time to jump back over to Europe for old time’s sake. I’m also in the process of adopting my own little sheepdog, Olive, and in February, Spencer and I will move to Dallas!
Bring. it. on. 2016. I’m ready for some happy! Cheers!
“If you’re feeling frightened about what comes next, don’t be. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path toward happiness; don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present, each moment, as it comes, because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart… where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again.”