Tag Archives: spain

Δlways

Today I have officially been home for a complete year. 365 days, come and gone.

And still, since I’ve had my feet on familiar ground, I’ve never felt more like a foreigner trying to dictate my every growing feelings of restlessness into words.

So finally, here’s my attempt… at making some coherent sense of my unsettled heart.

 

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It is never quite easy saying goodbye. It doesn’t matter how much practive I’ve had, I’ve never been able to perfect this art.. and truthfully, I’m happy with that. It’s kept me honest and vulnerable, it’s kept me… quite frankly, me, in an ever-changing journey.

It’s kept me coming back home.

The thing about returning home though, is that you are never the same person who left.

Not with malicious intent, but, unfortunately, people will still treat you like you are, and they are normally the ones you love the most.

(But who doesn’t hold on to the past? I’m guilty of this, too.)

And that, for me, is always the hardest battle to fight when coming back.

 

I am not arrogant or ignorant enough to think that constructive change only happens to people who travel, well, at least not anymore. It simply isn’t, and will never be. Life has many different paths to choose from.

 

Personally, however, it is my favourite method of personal growth. I love the feeling of being lost in a city. I like meeting new people, and listening to different languages. Sure it can be frustrating at times, but the challenge of adapting to a new environment keeps me grounded. It keeps me humble, and I’d like to think it keeps me kind.

 

Because what I’ve learned is, no matter where you are in the world, no matter your mother tongue, your degree of education, what skin colour you contain, or how much money you have…

 

There is a universal truth that we are all trying to figure out life to the best of our ability.

 

It’s my personal motto — always change for the better. It’s what my tattoo symbolizes, and it’s what I want my life to reflect, too.

 

And so — Travel is my catalyst.

 

But the culture and societal standards of where I come from is not always… understanding… of how I lead my life.

 

I’m a 24 year old female, single, and without children. I would like to think that this is normal, and it truly is… in other countries. But in my corner of the world, it isn’t. Specifically, my state in the US.

 

I’m from general small town name here, Texas. Known for proper manners, big guns, conservative politics, and churches galore.

 

I should be happily married with 2.5 children, and have a husband/superior that works 40 hours a week and grills steak on the weekends – while I mange the kids, and worry about what scent of laundry detergent I want to be present within the confines of my household.

 

Okay, soooo maybe I’m exaggerating… a tad. The thing is, I have absolutely NO problem with the women and men who lead their lives in this manner. This is how we were raised, and belief is a beautiful honour.

 

But I truly do not care how other people live their lives, so long as they’re happy, not harming anyone, and it’s THEIR personal choice.

 

Yes, you’ve guessed it, reader. I’m a filthy fear-mongering feminist… guilty, send me to prison asap, as long as it’s like the prison in OITNB plz.

 

Truly though, I would probably classify myself as a humanist. I want people to do whatever they want that makes their heart happy, societal norms or not be damned.

 

Realistically though, this is not the general consensus of where I come from.

 

Let’s also add that I am Mexican and Vietnamese American, I am pro-choice, I understand the true historical intent of the 2nd amendment, I have a uterus, I do believe in God but not the traditional Christian one, I’m for universal healthcare and education, and that I’m gay.

 

I do not write these descritptions of myself to make a political statement, or argue viewpoints.

 

Or to throw a pity party. I’m not looking for handouts, sympathy, or conversion prayer.

 

I write this, to understand my personal position in the world, and how my cultural surroundings will effect how I express myself to the outside eye.

 

And so understand, when I come home I have to battle this all over again.

 

Last year coming home from Spain was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.

 

I initially moved to Spain to heal my broken heart and discover who I am independently of a significant other. That, truthfully, was my biggest problem, and I know how privledged that sounds – for heartbreak to be the biggest ailment of my 23 year old heart, but nonetheless I cannot deny how lost as a person I had become.

 

And by the end of that year, I transformed into someone I was proud of again. I moved past just existence and learned how to live again. Spain was a beautiful experience, because it allowed me to shed every expectation of every single person I had known at that point in my life.

 

Half a world away, I had no obligation as a daughter, friend, or girlfriend. And the three major points of my life disappearned and the only obligation I had was to my heart.

 

I lived simply for myself.

 

Here, I learned the value of self-love, and this radical notion that my happiness mattered too, changed my entire outlook on life.

 

Before, I would have put anyone’s wants, desires, dreams, goals in front of my own. I wanted to save people, from themselves. I wanted to fix whatever emotional trauma someone had that labeled them as damaged goods, called it a “hero” complex, which I still have to remind myself not to do — truly, I thought I was being altruistic, but now I see it as a form of self-destruction.

 

And I know now, that I am solely responsible for my own happiness, and no one else’s.

 

And so when I finally came back home in the beginning of last July, I had to manuever through the obstacles of what that would mean, and how that would effect my personal relationships.

 

It was not easy. There were fights, and there were tears. There were offensive words, and there were broken promises. I hurt people I didn’t mean to, and I suffered my own pain.

 

But throughout all of it — there was love.

 

And that is the most transformative energy in the entire universe.

 

Time and time again, I relearn through different situations that love is the only thing that will save my heart.

 

Thus being home has simultaneously been one of the most rewarding and heart-wrenching experiences I’ve thus far had.

 

I came home specifically to spend time with family and friends. I know, in my soul of souls, I will never again live in West Texas for an extended amount of time. I fear missing out on the lives of my loved ones.

 

Being abroad, and away from home, you experience so much. You learn that the world isn’t as scary as the media portrays, that your country isn’t the best in everyone’s opinion, that cheese has many more ways of being eaten than you could have imagined – and just so much more. You grow in ways you never thought possible.

 

But

 

What I forgot

 

Is that I wasn’t the only one changing and experiencing. You see, I came home different. And instead of extending that gratitude to my loved ones — instead, in the same way that they treated me the same, I followed suit.

 

And sometimes, I wanted to prove so desperately that I had changed and fixed myself that I ended up hurting people I wish, now, I hadn’t.

 

But such is life.

 

I was so furious that everyone kept treating me the same, and kept placing expectations on me of how I should be. It angered me beyond reasonable logic that my family and friends couldn’t understand the mental and emotional ways that I had changed. How the golden buildings of Belgium changed my distate for gold, how Greek cuisine incorporated onions and managed to appeal to my tastebuds, how Spanish attitude for leisure time made me forget my desire to join corporate America, how the Dutch use of weed for entertainment/medical purposes eased my holier than thou southern attitude against drugs — just the ways in which my mind and been remapped.

 

 

And sometimes, it’s frustrating how no one can relate to your experiences. But I, too, was close-minded to their personal growth. And this caused a lot of unnecessary arguments and pain — but nonetheless, it happened, and I am better off for it now.

 

It made me realize that personal growth… is just that, personal. And I have no right to hinder someone’s attempts at becoming better — now, I only want to honour the universe that resides in each individual’s heart.

 

And if I assume someone hasn’t changed, I become toxic to their happiness.

So realizing too, that sometimes I’m the toxic person, has made me strive to not only always change for the better, but to always change people for their better, too.

 

To be the positive influence or constructive criticism they need. To try and not say anything out of a place of jealousy or negative intent, and to always try to love, encourage, and help — even if I don’t agree, or understand.

 

And I was only able to realize all of this, after I learned to fully love myself… no matter where in the world I was. Once I respected my heart enough to allow it to feel and love and change, I was able to extend this to others, and it has been miraculous.

 

I’ve learned to fiercely love people, and I’ve learned to delicately let go.

 

But, I still haven’t learned to say goodbye, and maybe one day I will, but for now, I’m happy with where I am.

 

In 3 months, I will move my life to Germany for a couple of years to begin my master’s program.

 

The thought of leaving is making me mentally prepare for it again, the goodbye part. But, this time I’m not running away. This time, I’m running towards my future — and that makes all the difference.

 

I wonder who I’ll be when I come home next time.

 

I pray to God it’s someone my parents are proud of, and my friends still love as loyally.


Backyard, Texas 

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columbian charm 

the joint of your fingers entwined and rubbed against mine as we stood outside the door to your flat, like flint, there were sparks surging through my bones ignited by your touch

 

i, admittedly, wasn’t used to this —

 

openly, more obviously clumsily, holding hands with someone

 

a gesture, I find to be very intimate

 

so I stood nervously behind you, clenched jaw, the tension locking up my body

 

i felt the squeeze of your palm and you looked back at me with your wide, beautiful smile, the sunkissed wrinkles around your eyes radiating curiosity

 

“has anyone ever told you how soft your hands are?”

 

my lips pursed into a half lined smile as i gazed into your liquid brown eyes — as your door creaked open revealing the inside of your livingroom occupied by a few people — your roommates

 

i introduced myself, the introvert within growing anxious with anticipatioin, the extrovert side of me displaying my natural wit and winning the room over with laughter.. a first go to social defense mechanism

 

i had become more accustomed to Spanish, now able to communicate my humour in ways i couldn’t before

 

as always though, I can never shake the first pangs of anxiety when walking into a room full of strangers, I let the dominant side of my personality take over, and put shy Trinh in cruise control

 

it’s always really impossible for people who get to know me to believe I am actually very shy

 

a shy confidence, i’spose

 

you noticed, as you pulled me away to your room, the coy laughter of your roommates fading into the background

 

greaaaaat, i thought to myself, as if I wasn’t nervous enough, I’ve somehow managed to luck my way into your intimate space

 

i cocked my eyebrow and sighed, as i flopped my body onto your bed — jokingly antagonizing you, “it’s barely our second date and you’ve already brought me home.. a little challenge por favor.”

your back to me, I heard you laugh, you probably even rolled your eyes and shook your head — i’ll honestly never know as you pulled your shirt up over your head and threw it at my face shielding my view

 

we had come to your flat for a change of clothes — i had been having a drink at a bar after work with some friends close to your university, and rather than meet up later, you asked if I wanted to meet up when your class was done and just come over while you got ready for our night out in the city

 

drunkenly, i agreed — wine is my best wingman

 

but i had sobered up already now, sitting on your bed watching you

 

i slid your shirt off from over my head after being intoxicated by your fragrance

 

i kinda have this thing for scent, if it attracts me, i am hooked

 

i’d even go as far to say that my own personal favourite compliment is, “you smell good.” i can’t help it, i’m a sucker for chemically inducing smells

 

and so I was pleased that your light scent fit you, fun and hardly over-bearing — your smelled like summer, warm and inviting, friendly, lovely

 

lost in thought i hadn’t realized you had stripped down to just the essentials of bra and underwear

 

either you were paying attention on our first date to when I said red was my favourite colour, or truly the universe is chaotically filled with lucky coincidences

 

the red lace hugged your hips delicately, your back still to me, you stepped into the middle of your chosen skirt and bent down to shimmy it up over your waist

 

my eyes traced the small birth spots on your right shoulder, to your spine counting each fragmented vertebrae, like stairs, my eyes were stepping down your back to the two dimpled cusps above your waist

 

i caught your eye in the mirror, watching me watching you, and looked away embarrassed — Madrid had accustomed me to openly gawking at someone without it being rude, it is just the culture where staring is not considered impolite — at least not in general

 

but now, here, i felt very soberly intrusive — “will you zip me up?”

 

flustered I nodded and got up behind you, taking hold of the top part of your skirt with one hand, and using my other to casually pull the zipper up

 

huh, i thought to myself, you could have easily done this yourself without my assistance —

 

i relished the view though, you were enjoying this as much as I, and that calmed me immensely — I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s hard for me to realize that maybe someone could want me as much as I want them on whatever level that manifests itself; emotional, physical, spiritually

 

you thanked me anyway, and swiped your waterfall of black hair away from your back to the front of your body fully revealing your naked bare shoulders

we paused for a few silent moments, our bodies inches away from each other, our gazes locked within the mirror in front of you

you turned around, playfully brushed your lips momentarily against mine, and nonchalantly shrugged on a shirt

 

for the next 20 minutes or so you put on your make up, and i sat on your bed advising you of what eyeshadows to blend and what lipstick to choose

 

i liked this about us, that i could simultaneously and mutually be interested in your friendship too

 

i am more than certain we had a great date afterwards, but it was the before part that i remember the most

 

the simple joy of experiencing someone doing normal things and having that intimate connection — the realization of the vulnerability to be allowed a glimpse of someone’s personal universe

 

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Things don’t have to be extraordinary to be beautiful, even the ordinary can be beautiful.

physics 

i used to want to become a mathmetician so i could figure out the equation to love 

then i was introduced to the concept of infinity 

so i became an artist instead 

  
Ama lo que haces // Love what you do graffiti ft. the beautiful Lauren 

Madrid, Spain