Stages Of Life
Puertollano (Ciudad Real, Spain), 4th May 2012
Tomorrow I leave home. It never crossed my mind nor even having to live out of my province, and now I have a one-way ticket to leave my country on this same table where I’m writing. Damn, I even decided to go to university 30 min from home. Why can’t I choose the same way for my job? Theoretically, there were a lot of offers studying Nursing. Partly that’s why I chose it! I always thought I would work close to home, but last summer…
I still cannot believe that even with vacation-shifts (no one wants them) I couldn’t get more than a few unstable and precarious jobs. I’m sure you still remember, dear diary, about those feelings of uncertainty and sadness for having just finished two beautiful bubbles away from harsh reality such as the summer and my career, and finding myself with no job and no prospects of having it.
But then that classmate lit the fuse of my forced migration. Yes, I do not consider at all the decision I am taking as “free” or a “voluntary option”. If my environment had offered me real job opportunities, I would not have to be writing this farewell right now. And of course, I am not going to be dependent on mom and dad. Even so, I have to admit to you and to me that until I passed the selection process of the telematic interviews, all of this about going to live (well, to survive) in England wasn’t more than a far possibility. But now I have to give the same resigned answer to all of the calls and What’s App messages from my friends saying goodbye and asking “Luis Carlos, why are you leaving?”: I wanted (and I want) to work, have a life and a decent job to be able to be happy. And that’s something Spain, right now, cannot provide to me. Nor even being a graduate in Nursing.
Back then in 2008 I still didn’t have this routine of writing my memories, but I do remember going to enroll for my university and seeing how the companies themselves went to college to offer jobs to the new graduates. Even before receiving the qualification! I guess that starting the degree the same year that a global economic crisis exploded should have made me realize that our generation would be different. I am not a social-economic analyst, and I don’t wanna become a “bar speculator”, but I can’t help trying to answer why practically none of my classmates got a stable job, nor even a temporary one. Except, of course, pause for panting with indignation, those with personal connections. Only a few years in the professional health world have been enough for me to see how the government of Spain has neglected for many years this and many other public sectors dependent on the State. And I think that now with this economic crisis, everyone is seeing it (I hope so). The only “good” thing is that now I don’t seem like a madman complaining about those governments giving away money to private initiatives that, as we are confirming, do not benefit the population.
I am sorry, dear diary, I know sometimes I get too political. It’s just that it’s so much easier to talk about this social-economic context rather than living its consequences, like being away from my people and my home (harder than it seems). As I write this page, I have realized, as in all these recent weeks preparing this trip, how the emotional pain almost overcame this alluring challenge of leaving the comfort of the known for something new. I guess in a few hours I will be one number more on the news of that sad phenomenon that has already been called “Brain drain”.
Portsmouth (UK), 14th March 2019
Tomorrow I leave my home again and I return to… my home too? I guess my concept of “home” has forcibly and painfully evolved to a broader perception. When I came here to England, I think that concept referred just to the place where I went out from every day to go to work and where I returned for my leisure time; but, in the end, it also turned out to be where I missed my family and friends while planning my next trip. I am not denying my native Spain, don’t misunderstand me. For a while I still felt my original country as my home even here in the UK, but I found it necessary and as liberating as painful to finish the duel for having left my country. That’s why, after a year abroad, I decided that my home (the main one, at least), was now here. First in the little village of Ludlow and then in Portsmouth since 2013.
But it was not easy at all to get to feel that way. I thought (wrongly) that I was fluent in English, until I came across the thick accent of a deep town in England where they weren’t used to seeing strangers. Not even the agencies trusted this poor young Spanish runaway to rent him a house they didn’t know he could afford. Fortunately, I was able to overcome this language barrier to share beers, hobbies and good conversations with many other young Spaniards in the same situation of escaping the economic crisis as me. In fact, there was a time when almost all my circle of friends was of Spanish origin, with some Portuguese, Italians or Romanians, punished by the 2008 crisis just like us (we counted at least half of the hospital workers who came from Spain and Portugal!). It was warm to find such a multicultural home with this little and painful thing in common, but I still feel sad when thinking that our own country abandoned all of us in that way.
Yes, I still kept up to date with Spanish news from the point of view of British newscasts and Spanish electronic newspapers. Thanks to them I discovered that the government at that time led by the right-wing Popular Party did not ever care about us. The image I received on the TV of the residence for the elderly where I had to start working at the beginning was about political representatives saying nonsense like the one that we were “adventurers.” No, dear minister, I did not come to England to be Wily Fog or Indiana Jones. An adventurous person does not think more times than I can count the bitter thought of “Will I have to stay here forever? What if things in Spain do not improve, and it only gets worse? Have I lost a home forever?”.
But fortunately I am here once again with a nostalgic notebook and a one-way ticket. This does not mean that the situation is better in Spain. Compared to what I felt when I wrote the other time, it does seem like it’s not as bad as it was. But I believe that it has not come out of the crisis, and it will continue until the money is used to rescue people and families instead of the banks. Many of my friends couldn’t take it anymore, and I already feel like I’ve spent a lot of time away from my family. At least the one I already had there, because now my dear Nerea has also become my home, as have so many wonderful people that I have met during these 7 years. My eyes are bent, and a lump appears in my throat writing this, but I admit that I am having a hard time leaving the UK. She also wanted to return, so it is time to take steps to re-approach to my people again.
Mallorca (Spain) 19th November 2020
I feel home. But fortunately, as I write these words, I realize that now I have more than one. That is why it was so hard to leave a home behind in England (it also had to do with the tedious move). When I had just graduated, “home” was more about a distance in kms and a house for sleeping, but now it is where I feel at ease and happy. All this road I have had many of them, and I am sure I will have more in the future besides this beautiful island of Mallorca where I am currently living. I feel both so grateful for the people that made me feel home but at the same time a little sad that it had to happen because of an economic crisis (am I being too optimistic?). I would be willing to leave my country for work again, without any doubt, I think it is possible, but I hope not. It would be less expensive but just as painful as the last time.
I truly missed this happy culture. The sun shines in another way and, oh my god, it is so relaxing not having to make any effort to understand those around you. Don’t take it for granted, you whoever are reading this. But anyway, I don’t see much difference between the Spain that I left in 2012 and the one I returned to almost two years ago. There is still not much quality work, and I have seen it in the news and in my close people with horrible conditions and overfished. Having contacts and no achievements, this continues to be the labor trend. Yes, I know, the situation is now somewhat being mitigated and we have had a lot of changes in the political landscape with more and new parties, but it has not yet been solved at all. We still don’t have a place for all the great professionals and brains that this country produces and have, but still have to change their home, just like me.
Furthermore, now it is time to add to this crisis not yet closed the recent (and future) one of the Covid-19. I think that it will not cause the brain drain that there was in my generation, since with the borders closed, young recent graduates who are like me 10 years ago just cannot consider emigration as such a direct solution. But considering the obvious negative impact that this pandemic will have on the job market, many will surely be forced to it. In my case, it may make me change my geographical location or not get so close to the people I consider home. Even so, my advice to any young Spanish or European unemployed who is forced (I repeat, it is not another option, it is an escape) to leave their home to find work is to accumulate strength. Although it is a challenge, it will undoubtedly bring many good things, so do not be discouraged by small obstacles and I wish you a lot of encouragement, because with this pain and learning you will discover a new concept of home.