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Posts published in “Day: April 2, 2013

Loving Spain, then and now

By Kristan Hoffman

Seven years ago, I fell in love with a boy. He was my closest friend in college – someone who made me laugh, challenged me to challenge myself, and listened to all my hopes and fears without judgment. One night while we were hanging out in his dorm, I confessed my feelings for him and then bolted out the door. By the time I got back to my own room, there was an email waiting. He had feelings for me too.

For the next month, things were perfect. Every touch was electric, every smile laced with the shared secret of our affection. When we left campus for winter break – me to Houston, him to upstate New York – I expected the absence to make our hearts grow fonder. I expected the new year to be better and brighter and blissfully full of our burgeoning love.

Instead, on our first day back for the Spring semester, he broke up with me.

Naturally I was devastated. I had no idea what I’d done wrong and no idea how to fix it. I spent the following two weeks in a depression, robotically going to classes and club meetings, doing my homework, and eating only because I had to.

Eventually I pulled myself from this abyss, forced myself to take care of my mind and body so that my spirit could mend. And when an unexpected opportunity arose to escape my regular life – which felt like the mere husk of an existence – I snatched it. An old friend was studying abroad, and a surprise stipend from my summer internship meant that I could afford to visit her.

Nine days in Spain didn’t heal my broken heart, but it helped. My feet kissed the cobbled streets of Granada, my arms embraced the scorching air of Sevilla. I drank in the architecture and history of Valencia. I floated in the shining blue waters off Barcelona.

On the last day of my trip, I took a stroll alone through Buen Retiro park in Madrid. Couples in rowboats drifted across the small lake, and behind that, groups of young people sat chatting and laughing on the steps of the big stone monument. The lush green park made me feel small, and the cheerful conversations made me feel alone, but in the best possible way. Because I was finally happy, all on my own, even on the other side of the world from everything I knew.

My lost and drifting love had found a new place to anchor, a new place to call home. The gaping emptiness inside of me had grown smaller, because Spain had started the process of filling it.

The rest I would have to do on my own, of course. With time.

* * *

Seven years later, I returned to Spain, very much happy and whole. This time, I came with the very boy who had once broken my heart. Between then and now, we had weathered many highs and lows. I supported him through a campus controversy; he supported me through drama with friends. We got back together and we broke up; we fought and we made up. He graduated and accepted a job in another city; I graduated and moved in with him. We met each other’s families, we adopted a puppy, we got a joint credit card.

We had started building a future together, so I wanted to make peace with our past by visiting Spain. In a way, I was introducing one lover to another. But there was no jealousy or fighting – just good food, good sights, and good company. As we strolled hand-in-hand through Buen Retiro park, I was reminded once again of why I fell in love. With both of them.

Lone Star College bond referendum includes new building for East Aldine

NORTHEAST – Lone Star College North Harris president Dr. Stephen Head and a group of his administrators met with the East Aldine District and community leaders in business and education, to discuss how the college could serve the district residents in the future.

Dr. Head spoke about the extraordinary growth of the college system, now serving 90,000 students and expected to continue to grow.

To meet the needs of this student population, the system is planning to hold a bond referendum election on May 11th, with early voting starting April 29th. Voters will be asked to approve bonds totalling $497 million. Dr. Head emphasized that this amount would allow the system to continue to build and grow, but would not require a tax increase from property owners. This is due to the large tax base in the service area, he said.

The $497.7 million bond referendum includes financing for learning facilities at each of the Lone Star Campuses – projects that were prioritized and outlined by a group of citizen leaders to the board in February.

This amount includes $$120 million for facilities for LSC-North Harris, including a new instructional building for the East Aldine town center project. That building would be about 85,000 square feet in size, and include parking for 650 autos.

LSC-North Harris now serves 19,000 credit students in 4 locations. East Aldine would be the fifth facility, and serve several thousand students. The facility is expected to be on a bus line for access, and will be adjacent to a 500 acre Keith-Wiess Park.

The new structure would teach ESL, GED, and Pre-college courses. It would have half its space for workforce training, and half for academic classes. Workforce training would include HVAC, welding, engineering technology, and machining. These are all benefit economic development in the EAMD district, EAMD president David Hawes noted.

Dr. Head said that Lone Star College campuses also offer more than education: exposure to life experiences, success programs, counseling, and more.