So, today marks one month since I landed in Valencia. It really feels like it’s been longer – in a good way!
This week, I have re-found my mojo. I genuinely think all the kind and supportive messages I have received have helped, plus the fact I’ve been a lot more open to possibility and have attended a number of different social activities. I’ve also discovered an amusing Spanish comedy programme called Pequeñas Coincidencias, so that – and the Marvelous Mrs Maisel – have kept me company in the evenings. I also made a brief video call in to the Bucky Maybes ukulele group on Monday, which was fun, although slightly disconcerting as I really couldn’t tell whether I was playing along in time or not!
Wednesday was a bit of a full-on day for me. I got up, did my journalling and some pre-course reading and then headed out to the Spanish intercambio I’d had recommended to me. It was larger than I’d expected – there must have been about ten tables at a guess – and I had been put on an advanced table (gulp). At first I started to wonder whether I shouldn’t been so sure of myself but actually it was fine. I was with two other British women and one Spanish man, Juanjo, who was lovely and very patient with us all. We talked for about an hour in Spanish and then half an hour in English and never actually got around to looking at the prompt sheet we’d been given because we had so much to talk about! So that was fun.
Then, in the evening, I joined up with the Runners Ciutat de Valencia for the first time. That was even more daunting than the language exchange! I got to the meeting point and there were maybe fifty or more Spanish people all talking at high volume. I asked for Susana as I’d been instructed to, but the man seemed to think I was saying Runners – now, I know my Spanish isn’t that bad, so I guess that’s an indication of how loud it was! I know I have a quiet voice but really!
I had suggested in my email that I started with the ‘iniciación’ group for people who were either new to running or returning after a break, but after admitting I had run 5.5km at the weekend, I was put with a group of 4 girls and told we were going to do ‘cuestas’ which I took to mean hills. But where? Valencia is hardly famed for its hills!
Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for me to get any more information because with a cry of ‘vamos, valientes!’ we were off – and not just the 5 of us, but a huge crowd! Well, at this point it became quite difficult for me to figure out who I was supposed to be running with, so I just settled in towards the back of the crowd and kept running. I’d no idea how far we were going, so I just ran at my usual pace (which it turns out was faster than the other girls – but then, they knew it was a warm-up. I had no idea what was going on).
Twenty minutes later, everyone stopped running and started to walk. I had a quick chat with a girl by the name of Esmeralda, who was lovely, and then we arrived at the ‘cuesta’. It was one of the entry ramps from the road down into the park, which is basically the old river bed (the river was diverted a number of years back because of flooding). We assembled at the bottom, stripped off our outer layers of clothing and waited to be given the nod. A quick sprint, then we jogged back down. Rinse and repeat.
After we’d charged up and down a few times, we picked up our things and set off on a ten minute jog back to the starting point. I’d survived! And I actually felt pretty good! I can’t say I had much of an idea of what was going on at any point, but maybe next time if I get there a bit earlier I might find out what we’re doing beforehand!
Then, yesterday I went to another writing workshop. I’ve had a pretty good writing week for a number of reasons. I made a testimonial video for the School of Upliftment recently (the School is great, the video is slightly embarrassing!) and Tara who runs the School emailed me to point out how much I light up when I talk about writing. And it’s true! I know I love writing, I have always known I love writing, but seeing that evidence for myself made me realise just what it means to me. Now, I don’t want to kill that by making it into hard work or ‘grind’ but it did make me think that this is something I should definitely be doing more of. With ease and flow. With a gentle spirit. Without expectations.
So, earlier in the week, I sat down and wrote another story. That makes three crime stories I have written within just a couple of weeks (it’s the theme for the next 1000 Word Challenge). And I feel really good about all of them (although I think one is more suitable for the competition than the others).
I’ve also had a breakthrough with my novella. At the first writing workshop I went to we were talking about our ‘writer’s resolutions’ for the year and one of mine was to finish the damn thing, however badly. I had reached a point where I didn’t know how to finish it. I was blocked. But yesterday I sat down and just wrote, and although it’s not perfect, the ideas started to flow again and I feel like I can finish it. No, I will finish it!
So, when I arrived at the workshop, I was feeling pretty good about myself as a writer. I can’t say I was particularly pleased with the free-write I did at the workshop, but hey, it’s a free-write. It’s not supposed to be highly polished. And I did enjoy meeting up with the group again, analysing the ‘Hero’s Journey’ and chatting afterwards about books over a caña or two.
Oh, and the other thing that’s happened this week is that I have finally found a room for February – April. I didn’t get the one I’d expressed an interest in last weekend, or the other one I had as a backup, but the landlord of that one did come back with some other options for me. It’s a smaller room than I’ve got now but it looks really nice, it’s much more central, and it’s a lot nearer to the language school I’m going to be studying at. So that’s a huge weight off my mind. It means I can get on the Padrón, and then the final piece of the residency puzzle will be to either find work or demonstrate I have enough money to support myself. And to be honest, I’m not inclined to worry about that just yet. It will work itself out.
I feel like I’ve come such a long way since I arrived, in so many ways. I’ve got my NIE. I’ve got accommodation booked through to – and beyond – the end of my course. I’ve met people. I’ve joined in with social activities and have more lined up (I’m going to a knitting / crochet Meetup at the weekend and plan to go to a yoga one just as soon as my yoga mat arrives). I’ve got to know my way around the city much better. I’ve been to the cinema (twice – once to watch a Swedish film with Spanish subtitles, which was rather confusing!) and to public events like the Three Kings parade. I’m starting to feel like this is home.
It’s good to be here.