“Since the divorce, I’ve changed a lot. That was a big event for me. I shifted from thinking about what other people wanted me to be to what I want to be. I take care of myself more now. I know how to take a step back and look at a situation the way it really is.

Now that I’ve been traveling, I feel like I found the answer I wanted to find, but it’s different than what I expected. I thought it would be something new and one day it would just come to me, but I found out that I already knew. Before, I felt like there must be something lacking and I was trying to accomplish so much to fill that part of myself that was empty. I went to a meditation retreat and I asked the guru for some books to read that would help me go further on my journey. He said, “There is no need to read. It will come to you.” At the time, I didn’t like that answer, but I found out he was right.

When I have visited other parts of the world, I have noticed that life is so simple: family, work, pleasure. There is nothing extra. I already have all of that. I realized that in any experience – traveling, with family, in my daily routine – I need to be satisfied with what I have. Now I just want to scrub what I have to make it even shinier.”

How We Met

Nan was in my Spanish class at the language school I attended in Valencia, and her ready smile put me at ease when I arrived an hour late on my first day, dripping with sweat and frustration. I got to know Nan in scraps of moments stitched together over time: practicing crow poses on the beach, splitting an enormous pan of paella after a sunset sail (we scraped it clean), meandering the hushed, cool halls of an art museum. In those small moments, I sensed a familiarity, the way we often do when we see a part of ourselves in someone else. Her way of quietly observing, her excitement about a good book, her sensibly optimistic way of looking at the world – these were qualities my heart recognized and said, “Hey, me too.”

A Moment with Nan

Nan decided to join me in Seville before she traveled on to China to spend time with her family. It was a weekend full of wonder: flamenco, art, and cathedrals, every nook and alleyway more quintessentially European than the last. On our last day in the city, we had logged over nine miles, sweating our way through the charm-laden streets in triple digit heat. Sometime after midnight, we finally stumbled out of the Plaza de España and into a restaurant in search of tapas. We had intended to just grab a quick bite, but it quickly became a veritable feast as we found ourselves diving into a spread of grilled octopus, crusty bread, melon wrapped in ibérico ham, and slivers of exquisitely roasted vegetables layered with goat cheese. We ate the last few bites in silence, bellies full and hearts overflowing. As the exhaustion and magic of the day settled in the air in around us, Nan leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She was quiet for a moment, the trace of a smile playing on her lips. “What a good life,” she said. Indeed.