Sorry, World. I Left My Heart in Spain

In a recent post, I detailed seven of my favorite things about life in Australia, but I’ll give you the plain, honest truth: although I like it here, I don’t love it. But, well, I can’t exactly blame Australia for that. Because, you see, I already gave my heart to another, and when I’m in love, there’s not a lot you can do to pull me away.

Photograph taken right around the moment in 2006 when I knew I was in for it

Photograph taken right around the moment in 2006 when I knew I was in for it.

I’ve been head over heels in love for over eight years now with a lovely little place called Spain. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the fact that I bring it up every two seconds. And, in fact, this post comes exactly eight years after my first trip to Spain, a life-changing month studying in Granada, came to an end. Has it really been that long?

See, there are two kinds of great love you encounter: there’s the love you are compatible and comfortable with and will likely end up marrying and having kids with and staying beside until you’re one hundred and two. And then there’s the other kind. The fiery, passionate love that touches a part of your heart you never even knew you had. Despite the fact that you were destined to love one another, at the end of the day, the two of you are incompatible in every practical way, and you’ll never actually make it together, leaving only memories of and longing for a time when you were truly alive. And that’s Spain for me. How’s that for dramatic?

¡Ay de mi Madrid!

¡Ay de mi Madrid!

Simply put, I could never see myself living in Spain for the rest of my life. I’ll still visit as much as I can, and it will likely be my favorite place in the whole world for as long as I live, but it’s just not meant to be my permanent home. So Spain ends up being that torrid summer fling that you build no future with. And I’m okay with that.

But the side effect of that is, as much as I enjoy my life in Australia, I constantly long for Spain and the life I led there. Seeing photos of Madrid’s streets, hearing a few notes of flamenco music, clicking through my old Facebook albums, trying Australia’s misguided attempts at Spanish food, thinking about sunset swims in Croatia or all-nighters in Budapest results in a strong physical sensation in the pit of my stomach. And I am happy here; I truly am. But that life I led there? What a life!

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar, Croatia

So when I tell people I like Australia but don’t love it, that’s why. It’s hard to compare anything to the fantasy-like life I lived in Spain. Although I’m still living abroad, seeing new places, and meeting new people, I am now truly in the real world. A full-time job, looking forward to going to bed at 10pm some nights, saving money, and doing real adult things. It had to come eventually, and, if I do say so myself, I’m doing it with quite some finesse, but it’s still a big transition.

And that compatible, long-term geographical love? There’s plenty of room in my heart for those, and, no matter where my travels take me in the coming years, Australia’s shaping up to be one of the greats.

25 Responses

  1. Spain started off for me that way, but we came to embrace one another and mutually respect one another’s differences. I think we’re for the long run, but I’ll let you have your torrid summer affair!

    • I think I could have come to terms with our differences had I found a job I was better suited for! Teaching was fantastic, and I have mad respect for good teachers, but it just wasn’t my calling. I love watching your life there, though. I read a lot of blogs by people living in Spain, but few have truly adapted to Spain the way you have!

  2. Nana says:

    A perfect analogy to love! Most of us have had our passionate love and our compatible, comfortable love. You are lucky to still have both in your life, albeit places and not people. Love you, sweetie!

  3. …Funny–I don’t know what sort of love I’ll have for España…I mean–I know I already LIKE him, considering that I liked being with him for 4 months last year, but this next go around will be for 9[ish] months, and it’s kinda nerve-wracking not knowing how it’ll go about this time, you know???…

  4. I think I know exactly where you’re coming from. I’ve just received a new visa for one more year in SPain, which although I’m super excited about it, I also know that I can’t stay there forever. I love everything about Spain, but I don’t think I can live there forever, especially if teaching english is the only work opportunity! I’ll enjoy this last year there though, and then I think New Zealand will be calling me home…

  5. Kaley says:

    Spain has got a grip on me too! Though I’m not sure I love living in Spain, I love Spain: its people, its food, its lifestyle (for the most part).

  6. Pedro says:

    dios! this is really beautiful, one of the most “preciosos” blog posts that i have ever read….thanks to your words Kirstie i am right now fully proud of being Spaniard, a country with bad things of course, but still the world’s most beautiful country.

    you know what? a lot of times you have mentioned how much you like and miss Spain even if you are happy in Australia, and because i have developed a “sexto sentido” as we say in Spain, that has made me know perfectly what women think of and how they feel, their ups and downs, etc i already did know that sooner or later you were going to say to the world what you have said.

    such sweet words and beautifully written has really got to my heart, Spain should grant you a medal or an award, you are quite better ambassador than many of us 🙂

    as Cat says: enjoy your torrid affair with passion and desire, haha

    by the way, i agree with you that there are two kinds of love, and certainly the fiery and passionate love with no future is a lot better than the love with future which usually ends up falling into routine and a boring life, but this is a different history that would deserve a whole blog post.

    • Aw, thanks, Pedro! You’re lucky to be from such a wonderful country! (And I feel lucky to be from the U.S. and to have been able to spend time in Spain…and now Australia!)

  7. I know how you feel. I don’t think any place could steal Germany’s spot in my heart.

  8. Courtney says:

    This is so beautifully written!! I can relate all too well. I’m so excited to spend a second year in Spain, but so NOT excited to break up with it one year from now. I wish Spain and I were compatible for the long-term, I really do!

  9. Bianca says:


    As an Australian who spent a year living in Granada, Spain I can fully relate to what you say and still struggle with the pull of Spain while living in Sydney. Like you say, Australia is great but I also left my heart in Spain. In one of my blog posts I wrote: “Having lived a dream-like year in Spain, Australia now feels like a well worn blanket; comforting and familiar but a bit dull. Meanwhile, Spain holds all our memories of new and exciting adventures.”
    Enjoy your travels and going back to Spain if you go….We try to return every year if we can!

    • Thanks for the link, Bianca! Looking forward to reading it. I’m thrilled I’ll get a chance to return this summer, and hopefully I’ll be able to go back quite a few times in the future!

      • Bianca says:

        oh enjoy your Spanish Summer! we will be there too! Can’t wait. Lucky us to have our hearts left in such a magical place but I always find it hard to return to Sydney afterwards….”caught between two world” indeed! All the best!

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