And so, fourteen years after leaving Spain, I return home to my beloved Madrid. My exile is over. There are two main reasons to explain my homecoming: a personal and a professional:

The first is family. My mom is 85 years old and not getting any younger, health issues start popping up with more and more frequency, her hearing is diminishing. So I decided to be with her. She lives in a big old apartment downtown and it is wonderful to have breakfast with her, help her with the cleaning and maintenance of the apartment and hang out with her throughout the day. My sister lives nearby with her three great kids who are growing up so fast (13, 11 and 7). Last week I went to my nephew’s soccer game and it was marvelous to see him score two goals. My oldest niece and god-daughter is just starting her teenage years and I am happy to be here to support her. As for the little one, the other day she was dropped off at home with an eye infection that kept her away from school, so I took her with me for my coffee and errands and we had a blast!

Just like family there are friends, old friends, real friends, friends that I have missed, friends that listen, that help you, that make you laugh, friends that are not afraid to call you out. And last, but not least, as the great late Robin Williams as psychologist Sean says to Will (Matt Damon) in the awesome Good Will Hunting: “I gotta see about a girl.”

The second and also important reason is a professional one, a pedagogical one. Over the years I have gotten tired of the narrow American definition of success, and of teaching in schools that thrive and endorse this way of life implicitly and explicitly. I have been fortunate to teach at schools like Seacrest and Walnut Hill, where the emphasis was much more on the humanistic development of the child. Even “pressure cooker” schools like Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Boston had a solid notion of a quality of life not necessarily related to money or the rat race. I believe that everybody in a school, (and in any community for that matter) students and teachers, benefit from playing, from hanging out, from conversation. Maybe as I get older I value quiet, and time, I believe in the beauty of conversation, of enjoying a chat and a coffee. We have the scientific evidence that happiness is not based on your SAT scores.

So I grabbed my bag and came home.

 

 

Comments
  1. Mandey says:

    All I ever want is for you to be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Claire Heaney says:

    Bonjour dr. Balson, I am writing to you on behalf of our entire french 1 class. Collectivally we’ve agreed you were our favorite teacher, and we all miss you dearly. Unfortunately we are all committed to a school that values Athletics and High academic scores over our sanity. Your class was the only I cheerfully attended each day, excited to hear to hear the fascinating stories of your past, understand your insights on our own well being and most importantly learning french the way it was meant to be taught. Our class has not only bonded through our love of you and the trials of tribulation of awful teachers following your departure. All together we are the same: Sam still doesn’t sleep and wakes at five every morning to curl her hair, Mike still frequently speaks in spanish, Vlad still receives straight 100% but has broken through his shell quite a bit and now jokes with the rest of us often, Jackson is still jackson just with less expo markers thrown at his face, Max and Ricky still primarily keep to themselves and I am still obnoxiously talkative and the highly anxious mess you hopefully remember. We all miss you dearly and hope to hear from you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrea says:

    Welcome home my dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kamel says:

    Glad for you!

    Like

  5. Rocky says:

    How about your volunteer work!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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