Officially "off my feet" yesterday, I read a book and caught up on emails. In between icing, elevating and admiring the science project that is otherwise known as my left ankle, I began to actively plan for a trip this summer...to Spain.
Truth be told, Spain is one of the places on earth where a part of my spirit likes to hang out, even when I'm off doing other things. The ancient city of Cordoba calls me in my dreams. Regarding where my life has been since the first time I set foot on the Roman Bridge overlooking Cordoba ten years ago, I can say that a tangent of my life was opened in that moment. The tangent itself began my thirsty quest for freedom, integrity and authenticity. It was there that I decided that graduate school was my next step. It was the place that planted the seed for travel, spiritual exploration and, of course, my love of dusty, Semitic languages. I returned to Cordoba five years ago to stop, reflect and get my bearings. This came after I wrote my Master's thesis about the place while battling serious illness. At the time, I had conquered one mountain, emerged victorious from the illness and was starting off on the road to the Ph.D. Now, this particular tangent (the Ph.D, that is) is looking for its end, and so I am feeling the pull to journey back to Cordoba, to simply check in, get down on my knees in thanks, and to get my papers for the vision of the next mission.
But, with my highly irrational, personal mystical stuff aside (which I would never inflict on anyone but me), it seems that there is an even more pressing reason for me to go and spend a week in Southern Spain.
A dear friend of mine from college recently did a very brave thing and followed her heart there. She moved to Spain to live with a Spanish man that she met when she was on vacation there two years ago. In the interim, he proposed marriage and she happily accepted. Regardless of the fact that she didn't know a drop of Spanish, she quit her job, packed her life, and moved across the world. Such a brave woman.
Perhaps it is safe to say that this is the story that young girls dream of. Meeting a dark, romantic guy from a different land, and setting sail on an adventure of a lifetime certainly seems like something I would do for giggles. But when I heard that this was her plan, I was enthusiastically supportive, if not a little bit concerned for her well-being. After all, all plans have a back-up plan, right? Apparently, her plan was to have no back-up plan. Apparently this was true love.
And so, apparently, my dear friend has found herself in a very serious situation of relationship abuse. Everyone who loves her is very concerned. The situation is worsened by the fact that she is confined to her home and her now husband reads and deletes her personal emails from the people in her life who have begged her to leave him. Apparently, I am the only person who is able to exchange any messages with her because the husband does not know me or sense my concern.
For the better part of a week now, I have spent time putting out word to all of my personal contacts in the part of Spain where my friend is living. So far, I have an American woman with a spare bed for her and several numbers for crisis counselors and other various contacts. But, obviously, this is the most that I can do from so far away. I am resigned to the fact that this may be as far as I can get in helping her. I am also resigned to the fact that I will do everything in my power to help her and still be there for her, even when she refuses to take my hand.
Her friends and family at home are concerned and worried, but are at a loss. Everyone who loves her feels powerless. Situations like these are always very problematic, especially when people begin to worry about keeping their "place" in the unwritten code of patriarchy and marital relations. It is all too common that we find ourselves believing that simply because an abused person "chooses" to stay in a situation of abuse, then that should relieve us of any responsibility. Obviously, I can't take responsibility for the fact that she married an abuser and can't think herself out right now, but it is not beyond the realm of reason that I can get myself to Spain and take her away for a long weekend with me.
After all, I'm just a few hours across the sea.
And who knows? Maybe a little trip to Cordoba will help her, too.
I am planning to go at the end of June.