This is my first post on the new look blog. I have been so busy planning and preparing for the changeover that I forgot to write a post to welcome you over here.
So, let’s sit down and share a virtual vermut, which is my way of saying there is no one theme to this post, it is more like a chat between friends, dancing from one subject to another. With a virtual vermut in hand!
1. Independence Day
Last Sunday we had the independence vote in Catalunya. It was a success in spite of many legal attempts to stop it happening. It is good to know I was there and I took part.
We went to our voting station, my stepsons old school in fact. There was a long queue winding down the street and around the corner and down the main road. People of all ages were there and many arrived with the whole family, and the dog. We met friends. I saw the elderly couple who own my parking space, and the lady who runs the local gym. People arrived in wheel chairs and supported on walking frames.
The best thing for me was how happy everyone was. Even though it was not an officially approved vote, the Spanish government even called it ‘sterile and useless’, in spite of all this, people were deeply moved to be voting at last on something so close to their hearts. It was well organised, calm, determined and community based. Inside at the ballot box almost everyone had their photo taken at the important moment of dropping the envelope into the slot.
The weather changed this week. As always it surprised me with the speed of the change. Only a couple of weeks ago I was swimming with my sister at Llafranc on the Costa Brava and then suddenly I was putting on coats and boots and even wearing socks to bed at night. When I complain that the summer is too hot and the winter too cold and there is not enough time in between with just sunny mild days, my partner replies, ‘This is the Mediterranean and that is the nature of it. Sudden changes, extremes of weather, not so much of the inbetweens’ Does this say something about the Mediterranean personality too? After five years living here I find I am more like this too.
I am pleased to tell you there seems to be a mellowing in the relationship between my stepson and myself. He is 19 now and although he’s still not much of a helper or a chatter at home and has to be reminded almost every time to wash his dishes or clean the hairs from the bathroom sink, I still notice a softening of the walls that keep us apart. Is it his age? Is it because I have spent a lot of time sending him love and peace as I stride along the streets, flicking through my prayer beads? Is it because I have changed?
I practise speaking to him as he whizzes past me in the house and maybe even these few words that show I am interested have opened up little gaps in the wall. I hope so as sometimes it feels impossible to continue living with someone who ignores me so totally. It has been almost five years!
4. Five Years
Five years ago in December 2009 I started writing this blog. I was sitting at my desk in a chilly flat in Carrer Valencia, Barcelona. I felt lonely and a bit lost in the middle of my new life in Catalunya. I had a new and still fragile relationship, several new friendships which were as yet untested , two languages to learn, a beloved yet strange city to explore, and I felt myself to be vulnerable and anxious. People kept questioning my ways of thinking and doing things. Even walking down the street was challenging as I hadn’t yet discovered that people in Catalunya walk on the right side and British people walk on the left!
I decided to write a blog and the name came to me almost immediately. The Catalan Way – it was like my private joke reminding myself that while I was here I must do things in the Catalan way. I had decided to be open to change and I didn’t want to be a typical foreigner who insisted on doing things their way. I had come to learn and to expand my possibilities so now I must educate myself about the Catalan way and try to follow it.
The blog became my friend and my guide. From writing it I made new friends and I learned more about myself as I tried to understand what was going on around and inside me. I hope I also have shared some of this in a way that is interesting for others even if you have never been to Catalunya or met me.
Now here is my new version of The Catalan Way. I am very excited about this new stage of the journey and I hope you will come along with me to see what happens next. I know of course that it is as much about me as it is about Catalunya. I often struggle with decisions about what to write – more on Catalunya and less on my life here? Or the other way around? But Kate’s way seems to be a mix of both.
Welcome to Kate’s journey on the Catalan way.