Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Introductions: Girl

Since I skipped the introductions and went straight to my emotions last post, I'm going to back it up a little bit (not like that). In this and the next two posts, I will introduce this blog's main characters: a girl, her dog, and a part of Spain that you have probably never heard of, and almost certainly never been to. (Don't worry: I haven't either.)

revisiting the place where it all began (kind of): Pena, Portugal

That would be me. I'm a Virginia girl, who graduated from its flagship university in 2010. Since then, I've been working in a rural high school, helping silly students figure out their futures. My favorite part of this, hands down, has been getting involved with my school's cross country and track teams--I love to run, and missed not having a team in college. (I am in no way speedy enough for DI!) After my school year finished in June, I moved back to my hometown, and have been working in a coffee shop. But not any coffee shop--the most intense coffee shop in the world. Let's just say I spend a lot of time memorizing things like the differences between our three Rwandan Cup of Excellence coffees: one is "full-bodied with complex sweet acidity," another has a "smokey, spicy aftertaste," and the third has an "aroma of raspberries with a flavor of dark brown sugar and dark chocolate."

Other than loving Virginia (wine), always smelling like coffee, and running, what makes me tick? Traveling, of course. I've been an addict since I was thirteen, when my dad took me to Europe for the first time. Since then, I've bounced around most of Western Europe, taking goofy pictures and eating an astonishing amount of food. I studied abroad in Lisbon, Portugal, the fall of 2008, and worked in Rome the summer of 2009. Long-term, I would like to work in international education--studying and working abroad were two of the most profoundly transformative experiences of my life, and I would love to help other students find their own ways out of the comfortable embrace of the good ol' US of A.

Despite the value of these profoundly transformative experiences (yeah, I'm gagging, too), to say nothing of the jet lag or number of times I've humiliated myself in various Romance languages, I actually hated Spain the first time I visited it. The summer before my first year of college, my family was visiting some friends in Portugal. A few days into the stay, my dad decided to pack us into the car and drive through the westernmost hinterlands of Spain. Almost as soon as we left, I got sick, and spent the rest of our Spanish sojourn curled into a miserable ball in the back seat of the rental car. Things I remember: fever dreams of sun-baked fields and combine harvesters; trying to find food in Salamanca during siesta; getting lost in Extremaduran mountains; and touring (i.e., trying not to pass out on) the walls of Badajoz.

Obviously, things went a little better the next time, and even better the time after that. Which gets us to where we are now: me getting forms notarized and apostilled and god-knows-what-ed, so I can move somewhere that seemed, initially, as inhospitable as a place can be. Life, man. It's funny.

obviously feeling right at home in the Templo de Debod

Bonus! Two truths and a lie: synonyms of my middle name include massacre, butchery, and carnage; I have a ring made from a 100-peseta coin; I have illegally crossed the US-Mexican border.

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