Friday, December 18, 2015

La familia - Part I

Moving abroad. 

It would be a difficult pill for my family to swallow. Not because they do not wish for me to have everything my heart desires, but because we are close. We spend a lot of time together. We work, cook, travel, sing and party together. 

In short, they would miss me and I them. But this was important to me. They felt it. They knew it. And like always, they rallied behind me. The search was on. 

I interviewed with several families throughout Europe - Germany, France, Italy and Spain - Spain drawing the most inquiries for reasons I do not know. It did not matter much to me where I went. I simply wanted to live and work in another part of the world.

One particular family stole my heart, and I was crushed to learn they had chosen another American over me. They wrote a kind note, wishing me well and stating, “We loved you, Alex, but our kids prefer to be with a female.” It softened the blow, as the kids wants and needs come first -- then those of the parents -- then mine. 

I had a couple rather attractive women reach out to me with lots of engaging and inviting messages. While they may have been harmless, they appeared to have ulterior motivations for inviting me into their family. I chose to look past these opportunities, as it did not feel right in my gut.
(See upcoming post, “The Gut,” to learn more.)
Who knows though -- maybe I am missing out…

I was quite close to moving forward with another family of teachers. They were as kind and inviting as they could be, and would have treated me like a king. However, none of them spoke much English, including the three children. Not knowing any Spanish, it would be very hard for us. We could communicate, but it was challenging. I asked for a couple of days to consider, but with no other opportunities available, I was going to agree to become their au pair. 

Thennnnn, this dude named Pablo showed up.

I was camping in southern Illinois with minimal service when we first started chatting online. The pictures of his family, his wife, Vanesa, and two boys, Carlos and Dani, looked happy and fun. They had just finished spending a year in Texas, and their eldest boy, Carlos, had picked up the English language. Now that they were returning home, they did not want him to lose all he had gained. The tenants in their 2nd apartment were leaving at the end of November, so they thought, “Let’s find an American and let them stay there, in exchange for spending the afternoons/evenings with the kids, working on English.” They set out to find the perfect female companion to care for their children.

Thennnnn, this dude named Alex showed up.

He had pictures of himself playing music for two beautiful girls. (My nieces: Elly Rose and Lillian Grace.) He talked of a desire to step away from corporate life to see another part of the world, invest some serious time into his creative projects, all while sharing of himself with another family. He made a solemn commitment to take great care of the children entrusted to him. 

Furthermore, this guy could sing. Pablo (the crafty dude that he is) had googled him and found some recordings of him with a St Louis diva named Kim Massie.

I imagine it went something like this.
“Ahhhhh,” Pablo mused, “by day a writer, by evening an English teacher and by night lead vocalist of my funk band...”

Whether or not he will admit it, I remain convinced that half of the reason why they chose me was so Pablo could have a white dude singing lead on “Play that Funky Music.”
--Seriously, we have our first gig on January 2nd, 2016. The setlist includes KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool and the Gang and Al Green -- it's going to be a party. 

In any case, we scheduled an opportunity to chat when I returned from camping. 

On Sunday, the “interview” began, but it was different than all the others. We just hung out and talked life, careers, interests, family, etc. Finally, one of us realized that we had been online together for ~2 hours, and we should wrap up. There was just this sort of mutual agreement and understanding that we would be moving forward together.

Now, the placement of this post, following “Impaired,” is on purpose and the reality that follows kills me. The words for this series are intended for my family here, yet three out of the four (Vanesa, Carlos & Dani) cannot read them.
-Vanesa speaks some English, but it is difficult.
-Carlos speaks English well, but reading is difficult.
-Dani is four years old. 

The truth remains -- I cannot reach them as I so desire. 

I have been back and forth on this piece for quite some time. Try as I may to relate all that these people are, I fall short. I guess some things were not meant to be captured in words. 

In any case, the family that I met is something special. They are loving and affectionate, playful and funny and extremely giving. I am a son and a brother, no less than Carlos and Dani, to Pablo and Vanesa. We, all of them and I, fit together beautifully. 

There are a number of interests, passions and values that bind us, but one philosophy in particular seems to ring true for us all, which is this:
It is ok to not have as much to give as another in a particular relationship or agreement, so long as you are giving your all.

I am completely outmatched with regard to contributions in the arrangements set, yet I would never be made to feel as though that was the case. All they ask for is my best, and I strive to give that.

Return to meet the individuals that comprise this team in "La familia - Part II." 

Enjoy the weekend - I am off to see Star Wars... in Spanish. :/

$.50 Philosophy 

Upcoming Posts:
"La familia - Part II"

"Spotify - A Year in Review"

"An Open Letter to a Dear Friend #3"


"An Open Christmas Letter to my Dear Friends"

"Good Enough Work"




"I'm Goin Country"

"Dear Jif"

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