Updated: May 8
A bit of a back story and how we even got to the decision to move to Spain. I was 19 years old when I moved to Greece back in 1996. I just packed up my personal belongings (2 suitcases of clothing), my ticket, passport in my hands and up and left. If only life could be so simple again. I stayed with family until I got on my feet and slowly like any young person worked and grew. I moved to Chios, Greece a small island in the Aegean; an island that is 30 miles long and 18 miles wide. As a young woman this defiantly was a new adventure for me, learning to speak my family's native language and learning a culture I only had a taste of growing up. Europe in general is a slower life style from the USA and life expectations are not how much you have, make or how popular, but the quality of the life you make and live. In the end I married the father of my children and we moved into a home that was not meant for more than a vacation home just 2 meters from the ocean, simple life, fresh foods, family and friends. Sound ideal right? Being I was only in my 20's and still have a life ahead of me and had grown up in the US, I always expected more and wanted more than just being a house wife to a cheating husband. I also lived in a village of 10 families all year round and everyone was over the age of 60 years old (we were the youngest family in the village) though I have always adored listening to an older person, passing the graces of experiences, I wanted to relate to someone my age going experiencing similar events I was going through. A mother of two, alone in a country with out my immediate family and struggling to fit in. Moving back to the USA was actually a relief in this time despite the obstacles I had ahead of me.
Let me state that once you get to know two countries, you will forever feel lost. The things you love about one country the other doesn't have and vice versa. You have to make a choice which one benefits you in that moment in your life. The passion and energy I had at this time working hard and proving I can provide for my two children and giving them a better life was my goal at this time, and the thirst to be successful. My rewards paid off, and my children are grown and on their own two feet and I can take the world now as I wish, but my dream didn't start here. In 2014 I flew out with my kids to drop them off to spend the summer with their father and their family in Greece. My ex was at work (he works on cargo ships and is gone months at a time). My ex mother-in-law was so kind to let me stay with her and gave me the key to his small home 10 feet from the ocean. During the day I would walk down with the kids to go swimming and hopefully meet up with some of their friends. This was the first time since I had left Greece that I allowed myself feel the emotions of mourning the beautiful things I loved about living there. I had carried so much anger from my previous marriage and just threw Greece in the mix. I had forgotten there were so many things I could never trade in my heart. That was when I decided I wanted to eventually move back to Greece or some where in Europe.
In my return Mr. Dracu and I began as most couples do in this situation and talk about the idea. During this time my son was getting ready to graduate high school and I began to realize I was getting older and that my daughter would be right behind my son soon moving on and moving out, and as all mother can relate to is "Who am I other than MOM?" call it a mid-life crisis, I don't know but I strived to think out of the box of what can I do that I could take with me any where in the world? Since I was a kid chopping up Barbie's hair, to a punk teen finding ways to keep a mohawk up, using pen ink to get those fashion colors, cutting friends and family's hair over the years; it just made sense to become a licensed hair stylist. I went to school got my license and changed my career 360, because it was something I loved, understood and could live anywhere doing it. That was the first step.
In 2018 I opened Rio's Creations and went about life, in this time Mr. Dracu kept saying how he would never move to Greece 1) he doesn't want to learn a new language 2) not 100% on board with some of the cultural differences. I said "ok, what about Spain?" I already knew a bit of Spanish and I am the more adventurous of the two and willing to jump into something of the unknown. We lingered on this thought for some time, but both agreed not to push anything until we visit there first. In 2019 we had to do some remodeling in our current home, so we decided in 2020 to go out there. BUM BUM BUM....well we all know what happened that year. Just like everyone else we were just surviving.
2021 was a good year for personal growth and learning, which became the new focus of what the ultimate dream was to begin with. I had lost my focus with the delays, heartache and survival of 2020. Things turned around for me despite all the trials I still had to go through I kept my focus and pushing through all the bull-shit. We finally made our trip to Spain and ran over to Greece while we were there. Can I say that trip ended in tears of joy and sadness. Mr. Dracu and I had been together 16 years and I never got to show him Greece. He finally got to see the places my children and I would talk about when they would return from their summer visits out there, but also understand my connection and love for Greece. I on the other hand got to say good-bye to another part of me that I have out grown but kept holding on to the "what if's" and realized I did the best for my children with what was handed to me and they got the best of both worlds. At the same time I fell in love with Spain and the people. Can I say how beautiful and clean the cities are. There were exercise equipment regularly on corners, when you go for your morning run you can workout while you are at which shows love for their community. People respecting the streets and the place they live. Beauty and history (I am a sucker for history) every where. The crazy part is I felt at home the minute I walked out of the airport. People saying hello to each other and asking about each other's families and something I miss BEING LOUD! Yes having passion in your soul is not a bad thing; when someone tells me I am being dramatic I just want to slap them, it's called being passionate. My experience of Spain was all the beautiful things I missed about Greece but a more beautiful version of it. Don't get me wrong I still love Greece but I still have some scars that were not just connected to my ex.
Coming home was one of the hardest things I have had to do in a long time. I was on cloud 9 dreaming of the future. I did not want to be in today and back home. Before I say more let me explain this, I am a proud American and when my grandfather passed I kept saying how I am thankful for his sacrifices so we could have a better life. As a woman and a single mother there was no way I could of done that in Chios. Culturally it is still taboo to be a single mother, it is becoming more common now but the whispers and discrimination of being a single mother in Greece is still high. Then to try to get the support you need for you and your children, before I bore you with Greek laws let's just say in a divorce it is all about the man, like I said I still have scars. So, thank you Papou for giving me and my children a better life. At the same time growing up in Utah not being culturally the same as the majority was difficult and having to always find my own way made me a strong person but come to find out people can be intimidated by strong people so even as an adult I have had my struggles of judgement and jealousy. I am tired of being accused if "Being dramatic" just because I am passionate and not afraid to work hard. I have found far and few people I can truly connect with and see into my heart. When you are in a tribe that carries the same passion and sense of community there is a sense of peace of knowing you are part of something instead of the weird one. I am tired of working and working with no social life. Now in my mid- 40's I am ready to embrace that quality and slower life. I am ready to simplify my expectations and grab a coffee with a stranger, not having to prove my material life to be worthy. I am ready to be part of a community as passionate about life as I am about the quality of life vices quantity in life.
Back in US I decided to finally put a time limit to reach my goal and two years was the key. Unlike my first move to Europe, I am supposed to be a responsible adult and take care of matters here before I just pack up leave (even though inside I would go running if I could). Right after our return I began to take Spanish classes with Premium Spanish Coaching https://www.instagram.com/premiumspanishcoaching/ very professional, great learning, understanding and amazing teachers. Eight months later we are purchasing our home and gathering our essentials for our new place. On another note, yes Utah is beautiful but not my kind of play ground. I prefer the ocean to the mountains. Can I say I HATE SNOW! The idea to never shovel snow again and kill my back is a dream come true. During this time I also have been studying every thing I do question about Spain, "what plants grow in their environment?" (TROPICAL, whoop. Whoop!), "how did people come to be there?" (LOTS of history which can take me a life time to learn and I am ok with that, love learning), "Why do they Flamingo dance?" etc.... it is a new beginning and it to will come with it's trials, learning curves and time to find my groove. I am excited anyways just knowing I can slow down and go back to enjoying to simpler things and find once again "Who am I other than MOM?" and all the wonderful things I have learned on the way. SO..... lift a glass and cheers to making long-time dreams come true.