As an expat I am often asked if I miss home.
I know people ask me because they don’t quite get it, or me. Locals ask as they feel I’m still very “Irish” and fellow Expats ask, well because they’re curious, probing to see if I’m willing to admit what they have known for some time now.
So today I’m saying it, publicly. I am home. No, I don’t miss home, I can’t because I live here, this is my home.
With that admission comes a guilt I’ve carried for a while now, one which my Mother, (as only a mother can) has told me off for. Reminding me not to forget my roots, but I’m sorry, I can’t miss home when I am home so it’s out now!
I am Irish, born and reared in Northern Ireland which legally is part of the United Kingdom yet I have absolutely no hesitation or doubt in confirming I am Irish and no one will tell me otherwise.
Just like no man, woman or child will tell me that Spain is not my home.
I’m from Belfast originally and have a fantastic, large, typically loud Irish family. We speak daily and I miss them and my childhood friends more than ever, especially now I’m a mother. However, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to leave home and move back to Belfast, that just wouldn’t make sense.
I feel like I grew up in Spain, (actually grew up). When I first arrived I was young, ambitious, probably a little fearless and it all seemed like a huge adventure, I never once considered that it might have an end date.
At 36-years-old I’m still growing, still changing, learning, evolving as a mother, a woman, a business owner.
I’ve always mixed with and have made lifelong friends with English, as-well as Scottish, Welsh and lots of Scandinavians. The great thing about being an Expat is we’re all in this together, personality not nationality matters when making new friends and contacts.
My Spanish friends and colleagues are older and wiser and keep me right, without them I’d have made even more mistakes than I did in those early days, they’ve always helped steer me in the right direction with a little gentle encouragement “Georgina, tranquila. Poco a poco”
People never mistake me for being Spanish, Norwegian yes – my ginger, fair skin has never quite managed to acclimatise to Spain, so my freckles stop me from blending in as a native. So even though my heart, soul and head belongs here, my skin might at times disagree.
I eat dinner late, I eat a three course meal at lunch time and my Irish hangover cure of a Belfast bap with milkman’s orange has been replaced with Spanish toasted baguette, tomatoes, olive oil and more salt than I care to admit (Oh how I miss hangovers).
I love my home town, I loved my childhood and I absolutely love to go back and see everyone and all the great changes in a wonderful city and then … I like getting on a plane and coming home.
After 16 years in Spain, even with the many frustrations and red tape (I didn’t say it was always easy) it’s my home and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’m not English and I’m not Spanish (here we go again) I can’t be Spanglish either so I guess I’m an Irish Expat, maybe I am Spirish?
I don’t know my current title but I do know that I am home.
Olivia, my daughter was born here, she will be raised here along with her baby brother, due in August.
I wonder if she will feel like an Expat, English, Irish or will she feel Spanish. Time will tell.
She has Spanish friends, Spanish and English teachers and will start to experience Spanish traditions as I did Irish ones at her age, some of which I hope I will have the privilege of experiencing with her.
So if I were to find myself in the Land of Oz and had to close my eyes and tap my heels three times and say ‘There’s no place like home’ I know where I’d be when I opened them again and it would be right here, in beautiful Spain.