We are coming down to the wire now. Nine days until we board a plane to live in Spain. The Husband and I are like boys on Christmas Eve, we're so excited. After years of planning, saving, working, worrying, researching, and questioning, we are at the edge of making it happen and it's only now sinking in.
To bring you up to date, we found an apartment and learned a bit more about Spain in the process. After experiencing a series of landlords who almost seemed to compete for which one could make the most eccentric and unreasonable demands on us for the honor of renting their properties, we felt almost blissful to find a landlord couple who was neither eccentric nor unreasonable. And their apartment was, by far, the best of the entire bunch we had seen.
But even though our agent and the landlords reached an agreement in principle early on for us to rent the space, it still took almost five full days to negotiate, write and sign a lease. Why? Well, I think it's part of what you get if you live in a culture where family and time really come first.
At several points during the negotiation, for example, progress was halted because the landlord had a conflicting call on his time from his family. Once he had to escort a family member to a hospital for some tests. Several times, he could have wrapped up the whole lease, but that would have meant being late for dinner with his wife and that wasn't going to happen.
As Americans, particularly for me as a former Realtor, this felt really odd and it would have been almost unheard of here, where the spirit, if not the letter, of the maxim "time is money" rules almost every business decision. But this is the way it was; for this landlord, it was more important to be on time for dinner with his wife than finalize a lease worth tens of thousands of euros. And all I could think afterward was how cool.
In the US a lot of people, particularly politicians, like to talk about the importance of the "American Family." I think there might have been or may still be an American Family political party. But scratch the slogans and scrub off the veneers and you'll find out it's just about money - either making more of it or spending more of it, both to supposedly make things better for families.
I haven't seen enough places and people in the world to know whether "money makes the world go round," but it sure makes the U.S. run and it's a poisonous preoccupation, a toxic fuel. Eighty-six percent of Americans live with more wealth than the average human being has ever held throughout all of recorded history, yet fourteen percent of our population lives below the poverty line. American households have now, on average, almost three televisions per household. And as of 2017, there were 326 million people in the U.S. but 393 million guns.
I'm not saying every Spaniard has taken a vow of poverty in favor of family life. Far from it. But I am saying that society appears to have struck a compromise, effectively putting time, people, and relationships ahead of making another euro and I applaud that all the way.
Now this blog entry would not be complete without thanking LESBIreviewed for her generous review of Manny Porter and The Yuletide Murder.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it and Happy Holidays to everyone. The next time I write you may be from a desk in España.