I Almost Missed What I’d Been Missing or “You Don’t Turn Your Car Around in Springfield”

Like the Madrid sky...an impossible shade of azure blue.
Like the Madrid sky…an impossible shade of azure blue.

It is 7 a.m. Sunday morning and my phone is ringing. Correction. Skype is ringing.

I look down at it and smile. It is D.

I’m bleary-eyed and disoriented. I have adjusted to Spanish norms regarding time and turned off the lights only five hours earlier.

If it were anyone else, I might roll back over and return the call later. But I don’t. I am, in fact, delighted.

I plug in my headset and pad into the living room where the Internet connection is stronger and our call will be clearer. I sprawl out on the floor and watch the sun come up through the opened balcony windows. I tell him that it is cool outside and that I am wearing his wool socks. I tell him about life in Madrid. Unfiltered.

I tell him that I feel like a child because I don’t know the language. That I am frustrated because I do not have ready access to the words I need to express myself. That I cannot participate in so many conversations. And that the ones I can join are simplistic, slow and involve many “¿Come se’ dice-s?”

I tell him that I do not like teaching little children. That I find it exhausting, and that I feel trapped as I have accepted a position that includes working with a three-year-old and a six-year-old.

I tell him that some days everything feels hard. Grocery shopping. Getting a monthly metro card. Completing my student visa requirements.

And then I burst into tears.

I tell him I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. That I don’t know how much I need to work. Should work. How much I need to earn. That I do not own anything except my clothes, a pocket-size sculpture of Ganesh and the fancy shaving tackle he bought me.

“I hate when I am like this…when I don’t feel grateful, when I don’t see what is magical in my life.”

He laughs and tells me that I am magical. That ownership is an illusion. That the language will come…along with everything else.

“It’s like you are driving to St. Louis from Chicago. You know where you are going. But somewhere around Springfield you get a little bit lost and tired. But you don’t turn around and drive back to Chicago…you keep driving, because you know where you are going.”

I laugh.

“I miss you,” I say.

“I am right here,” he replies.

And he is.

“I miss being able to talk to you whenever I want to. I miss eating breakfast with you and swimming in Lake Michigan and going to the Green Mill to hear music. I miss your hands. I miss your lips. I miss making love to you.”

I am certain I can hear him smiling.

And then, “I am so happy and grateful to be talking to you right now.” As the words tumble out of my mouth I feel a palpable shift in my body and my emotions. I realize that in this moment I do feel happy and grateful. I tell him this. Then I tell him about the sun coming up over the Spanish tiles out my window. And about the impossible color of the morning sky — an almost cartoonish shade of azure.

And I realize that by focusing my attention on what I didn’t have, or soon wouldn’t, rather than what I did right in this moment, I almost missed what I’d been missing – the chance to be with D.


I bask in our connection. In our “being here” now. In sharing my morning and his night.

And my life feels magical.