Meg and Grant go to Barcelona & beyond

Month: March 2015

Moving day

Closing time

Open all the doors and let you out into the world

Closing time

You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

It was moving day today! Hours and hours of preparation and packing, and it is here and gone. It is amazing how quickly the actual move goes. An hour and a half and most of our belongings were far from sight.

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I loved this place. Seeing it emptied, it takes me right back to the first time we saw the apartment. I fell¬†instantly in love with the Victorian details – tall ceilings, crown molding, old-fashioned doorknobs, and clawfoot tub. As Grant pointed out to me, I’m pretty sure I fell in love with every place we looked at together, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about the one we picked ūüôā

This was Grant and I’s first apartment and the place we came back to after getting¬†married. Shedding this place is the first concrete act that we are leaving life as we know it.

We wandered around from empty room to empty room today after the movers left, aimlessly looking for…something? I think we were just trying to take in every memory of this place while we could. It is funny how a set of walls can contain so many thoughts and feelings, reminders of laughter and fights. If walls could talk…Memories of the first time you cooked a dish right, that time you used the silver goblets you inherited…because life is too short to save your good stuff, hosting your first Thanksgiving, surviving the longest earthquake you’ve ever felt, buying your first nice piece of non-Ikea furniture, starting your first indoor herb garden …. three times and each time getting thwarted by tiny bugs, and taking so much pride in your apartment that you actually clean the baseboards.

On another note are expert packers now – Grant of bikes, and me of kitchen!


Among other things, I will miss this view of Bernal Heights from our window…


(by the way, any takers on the $1.9 million dollar house across the street? Yikes.)

UPDATE: The house sold for $2.5 million. Like hotcakes. If this isn’t a sign of the end times, I don’t know what is.

The countdown until we leave begins – 4 DAYS!

I packed my bag with…

aardvarks, bananas, convalescent unicorns, daliks…

Did you ever play the roadtrip game “I packed my bag”? I feel like I’m playing a long game of that with myself as I decide what to pack for our trip! How do you prepare for a trip of unknown length and consisting of unknown destinations? The answer: you don’t.

I laid out the main items I am planning on taking (of course I had to put it on a grid layout – you can’t take the wireframe out of the UX designer!):


I’ve got a mix of cycling clothes, workout clothes, 1 nice dress, and about a week’s worth of¬†casual outfits. You can see my immediate issue with the number of shoes! New product idea: create a woman’s shoe for hiking, biking, walking around, and formal occasions…go!

Since laying these out, I’ve already removed some shirts. Thanks goodness for travel vacuum bags, though.

In all seriousness, it did make me stop and think about what I really need for day-to-day living. Most of the things I am packing are replaceable things I could buy in Spain. Since we are planning on getting a semi-permanent place and not moving around every week, though, it works out more economically to bring a little more and not pay for it there.

The¬†one thing I found myself not being able to cut back on was jewelry. There is something grounding to me about my jewelry. Most of it has been gifted to me, or I’ve purchased as a memory of a trip or special event, so it carries special meaning to me. Lucky for me that jewelry is easy to pack and doesn’t take up space. I have a feeling my jewelry will provide grounding for me. And who knows what new pieces I will pick up on this trip that will remind me of this special time!

Here is my current favorite go-to jewelry mix for the trip – James Avery ring gifted from my mom (I’m not taking my engagement or wedding ring so this is my trip replacement), copper bracelet I made in a jewelry workshop here in SF, Pura Vida bracelet gifted from my lovely co-worker, additional Pura Vida bracelet I bought because I loved the first one so much!, leather ring I purchased in Shanghai, and leather cuff gifted to me from my mother-in-law from Spain originally (and I’m taking it back!)

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Any packing tips from the peanut gallery? Things I should pick up here because I’ll miss them there?

Space and grace

Don’t stop, no it’s never enough. I’ll never look back, never give up. And if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough…but now I’m falling, falling, falling…

Moving to Spain feels like falling away from my life. It feels as if I am leaving so much behind. The great thing about stepping back from your life, about falling away from your life, is you leave space. That space is scary and big – but the thing is that you can fill that space with anything. I am choosing at every moment to fill this space with self-love, with grace, and with empathy for myself. I am choosing to reject the “it’s never enough.”

This is my simple starting point for my journey. I don’t know what Grant and I will be doing for the next bit of our lives and even what my goals are for it. I am starting by filling that space – time, energy, thoughts – with a vote of confidence in myself.

I understand myself now better than I’ve ever understood myself before. I’m not sure if and how this self-awareness will continue to grow as I get older. I know what I’m good at, and I know what my constant struggles are. Somehow in some accepted constraints, I am freer. I’m ok with it. I am trying to be my best for the people I care most about.

I can say confidently: I know and love Meg Marvin. And I’m looking forward to getting to know her better as she travels and changes.

As many of you know, I can be a bit of a perfectionist. This has not always served me badly. I have done well in school and advanced in my career. However, I hold myself and others to such high standards sometimes that I lose sight of what’s important and I lose my great talent of empathy with others. The irony is that it’s easy to judge myself for judging myself and others so stringently. It’s much harder to stop and give myself grace.

So that’s where I’m starting.

Why Spain? Why now?

You may be asking yourself why you’re even reading this blog? Why are Meg and Grant moving to Spain? Fair questions.

The short answer is that we have been dream-talking about this idea of traveling for a few years. We knew we wanted to travel before we started a family, but we weren’t sure when it would happen or if we’d both be ready to pick up and leave our jobs at the same time. Last Fall, we had both been at our jobs for over 4 years, and we both were feeling antsy to move to the next thing. So we asked ourselves if this was our opportunity to travel.

Believe me, the luck that both of us want to live abroad, are ready to leave at the same time, and have been able to save up money with our past jobs, is not lost on me. We are so incredibly lucky that in our partnership, we are both equally ready and excited for this adventure.

The next question was where we would go. Europe, Asia, and Australia were the immediate front-runners. I had loved Hong Kong when I traveled there for work last year. I found these bike-across-Australia tour that I was excited about. It came down to the fact that Europe has a LOT to see for relatively cheap travel costs (thanks goodness the dollar is strong) and that we were both more excited about exploring Europe. I did an analysis of cost of living across major European cities, and Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin bubbled to the top. The rest was process of elimination – we don’t want to live in a cold place, and I know¬†Spanish. So Barcelona it is!


We knew if we wanted to legally stay within Europe for longer than 90 days out of 180 days that we would need to apply for residence in a country. We applied for a Spanish non-lucrative residence visa, which basically means we pledge not to work for a Spanish company. Getting our visa means that we can stay in Spain for up to a year and travel outside of Spain for up to 3 months. Our rough plan is to travel 1-2 weeks out of the month and spend the other 2-3 weeks in Barcelona.

That’s the whole of it!

We got our visas!

We have our visas to live in Spain in hand! Can you believe it? This was the last practical checkpoint that needed to happen before we go. These stickers in our passports don’t look like much, but they took a lot of effort to get! Tons of documents, sealed with international approval, and officially translated into Spanish. It took us over 5 months from the time we began talking about applying for them to the time we got our visas.

So the practical planning can begin – we can buy plane tickets and figure out a hostel to stay at for the first few weeks. Departure set for the end of March or beginning of April! *Cheers!*


On a side note, I look like a crazy mad woman in my visa photo. They told me not to smile. Those jerks.

Is this real life?

As I sit down to write on this quiet morning, I turn on Pandora for background music – Imogen Heap seems about the right mood. The first song is “Goodnight and Go”, though, a song that transports me back instantly to sophomore year of college. No good. I need background music that will bring me back to this moment in 10 years. Switching to The Hunts.

First song: Make this leap. Ok, this seems right.

I am reeling in an out-of-body experience right now. In a month, Grant and I will be … where? Somewhere in Europe! Hopefully Spain.

We just gave notice on our apartment today, and both our jobs know we are leaving. This is not my life. This is happening to someone else. It feels very surreal to have something you have talked about for a long time at a high level come to fruition and actually happen. I am scared. I am excited. I am having this internal dialog of “In a month, I have no place to live. I have no source of income. What am I doing?”

The only other time I have had this feeling is when Grant proposed to me. It was something I had wanted, dreamed, hoped about for so long, that when it happened in real life, it just seemed unreal (ironic, I know). I didn’t expect this decision, this excursion abroad, to feel of this magnitude. I already feel like I will never be the same person again, and we haven’t even left the country!

I am trying to fight all planning instincts and be open to whatever may happen. It turns out this is both amazingly hard for me and amazingly freeing. I am ignoring some of my internal dialog, but as I do that, it is like I am hearing other internal voices that I had never heard before over the ruckus of anxiety. These new voices don’t judge me – these new voices say “I am Margaret Frances Davis, and I am on a pedestal.”* These new voices say that there are parts of me I have ignored that need some attention. These voices speak to me that I am a creative soul, with an inventive spirit, and that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Up above the static, up above the racket, I hear your voice calling me out of the darkness.”

I know this surreal feeling will fade with time. I will weave this decision to move abroad for 6+ months into my life story seamlessly. It will be part of who I am moving forward. For this moment, though, it is not real. For this moment, my feelings are a premonition that there is a metamorphosis happening. It’s happening somewhere deep inside but it will make its way to the surface soon.

Now to lock down our visas so that we can actually stay in Europe for the length¬†of time we want to stay…details.

*When I was a little girl, my mom used to say this to me. She would say if you treat yourself as if you are on a pedestal, others will respect you as well. At the time, it seemed driven by manners and being proper, but now I understand it is about self-love.

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