Eight Years Ago

January 20, 2009 By: erik Category: Mondragon, Musings, Photos, Travel 503 views

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Passport Stamp - Gatwick - 21 Jan 2001Eight years ago today, I was in my apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, packing my suitcase, preparing for a trip to Europe. I can very vividly remember every detail of my living room and television as I watched the inauguration of George W. Bush, whose “election” was decided by nine justices of The Supreme Court. It was cold and raining outside and also in Washington, D.C. Later that evening, I boarded a flight to Dublin, with a layover at London Gatwick. The airport security was, of course, no more or less of a sham than it is today, but it was much less intrusive of a sham. After working for a couple days in Dublin, getting very sick from some food poisoning, and spending the rest of the week curled up in a hotel room, I flew to Madrid, entering Spain for the first time. From Madrid, I somehow managed to take a train north to Vitoria, where a girl I’d met a little over a year before stood with her father waiting to show me her home town and introduce me to her family. The world I was entering was so incredibly different from anything I knew. Such was the first visit I had with my future in-laws.
Passport Stamp - Gatwick - 21 Jan 2001

My immigration stamp at Gatwick.

Marga - Feb 5, 2001

The girl I was going to meet, overlooking her cloudy hometown.

These eight years were very good to me. I don’t think my life would have been that different if SCROTUS had decided the other way, but I’d have been a lot happier watching the news each day, I suspect. I am definitely filled with hope for the next eight years, both for the collective life of my species and for my own personal family life.

  • Jake

    I suspected there would be an entry today that referred to 8 years ago, but this writing was much tamer than I anticipated.

  • It’s interesting how much our expatriate experiences have in common. I left the U.S. within weeks of your flight to Dublin. I didn’t meet my foreign bride until a bit later, but the effect was to confirm and cement an entirely different and ‘outside’ life. Now in my new job most of my North American colleagues have a very short-term view of their expat experience, and can’t quite get their heads around the ‘never going back’ idea. Despite the timing of my departure from the U.S. it has nothing to do with politics, but I also look forward to feeling more positive about the country I don’t live in anymore.

  • I didn’t actually abandon my country until December 15th of that year. I wouldn’t say that I have a “never going back” attitude. I like to think of my attitude as, “I’ll go wherever life takes me,” and I fully accept that that may mean never being a resident of my native land again. But I have known scores of expats like those you describe, sgazzetti, that think of living abroad as sort of an extended vacation or temporary “experience” rather than life itself.

  • I have a remarkably similar photo (same weather, view across the city with her in the foreground) of Paola from when I first went to visit her in Genoa ten years ago.

  • KP

    I also left in 2001, but in July, and for a combined reason – a layoff, disgust with the political system, general annoyance with America. So I got a job in Prague and haven’t looked back. Most of the expats I knew in Prague, Lisbon and Lugano shared this aforementioned temporary mindset, whatever their home country, but those in Ljubljana seemed to be fairly settled. I’ve often wondered if that was just the people I knew. Do either of you get the question ‘will you ever move back’? Since moving to Scotland I get it often. I don’t know how to answer it. And I’m not sure how to identify with this newfound patriotism that I feel, as it’s new and strange and uncomfortable.