Córdoba: Reflections.

As alluded to in the previous post, this is the sappy, overly introspective and emotive jeremiad about which probably nobody but me gives a rat’s ass. Seriously. If you keep reading you’re going to draw uncomfortably close to me, so unless you’re cool with that, go read the post before this one–there’s eye candy and vacationy reportage to be had. Okay? Okay. Consider yourself warned.

In all, my weekend in Córdoba was much more like a homecoming than a vacation. In Córdoba I felt more comfortable and confident in my Spanish than I have in my entire two months in Madrid. Being there recharged me and refortified me for life here in Madrid in a way I couldn’t have dreamt it would. I know now that I have a home close by that has nothing to do with people, funnily enough–something I thought I’d never find. I feel a deep connection to the place itself, to all of the twisty turny streets, to the muddy Guadalquivir river, to the color of the stones in the sunshine and to the sounds of the water in the fountains that hide in the around corners and alcoves of the judería. Equally strange is that I feel a connection to myself–past and present–there.

Going to Córdoba this weekend powerfully reminded me of who I am by making me remember who I was. My time in Córdoba two years ago was lived by a very different me, cleaved in two and wrecked by one person and circumstances I could have controlled, but didn’t. From September to late November I was one girl, from November on, completely another. The first me was the assertive, confident former-athlete who understood growing experiences and that change has to be seized and actuated by those who wish to see it incepted. This girl trusted to her competence, made friends easily, went out for walks in her own company and thrilled at the act of living, simply for itself. This girl is someone who closely resembles the one tapping out all of this sentimental, introspective, self-congratulatory bullshit far too late at night on November 6th, 2007. This girl doesn’t scare me. This girl doesn’t shame me.

The other, however, does.

The second version of me scares and shames me because she existed, but she scares and shames me more because as far as I’ve come, somewhere inside, I know that I’m still her. I know that I could be her again. This girl was a brokenhearted, serious, insecure twenty year old, totally thunderstruck and lovelorn for someone who she knew well could never love her back. She was full of a lot of self-hatred and confusion for too many reasons that had too much to do with herself and far, far too much to do with someone else. She strung her delicate pride and self-image entirely upon compliments and affection from one very confused, very admirable, but extremely egotistical, boy. When I think of her, and when I think of the events that created her, my skin starts to crawl and I wish I’d never been her. At the same time, though, without that her and without the him that shaped that miserable her, I wouldn’t be who I am now–and I happen to like THAT her a good lot. The girl I was in Córdoba from the end of November on was the most miserable, tearful, hopeless and angry little creature I’ve ever encountered. Thank God I can splice her out now and regard her as a separate entity, a very strange bridge in the chorus of my life.

In spite of–perhaps because of–that second girl I was, I like me a lot better now. As I took my solo adventure walk this past Saturday, passing through Plaza de Tendillas, then later stopping to watch the herons in the river, I realized that I’m pretty satisfied with who I’m becoming and what I’ve been in order to get here. I’ve come to a point in my life at which I no longer pine for anybody who doesn’t love and respect me–or at least appreciate me–in return. I am whole without someone else’s total approval. I have learned to defend myself, to stand up for my convictions, and to advocate for my heart and good sense in the face of inconsiderate behavior and inconstant affection. These are all good things. The more I thought about it, though, standing there by the river, the more aware I became that a part of me that was really raw and really alive went to rest two years ago in Córdoba, eked out slowly in tears and quiet grimaces and blame of myself for ever letting my emotions run away from me. Sometime in early December of 2005, I shoved my girlish delusions into a box and did my damndest to deny that I’d ever been naive enough to have them. By the time I boarded my plane bound for U.S. soil I’d donned a mantel of amused cynicism to protect my heart from ever being brushed aside in so cavalier a manner, ever again. But here’s my guilty admission: though I’ve doffed those dramatic weeds of mourning and realized that being totally immune to love and emotions is nearly as ridiculous as being overly maudlin, half of me wishes I still knew what it was like to be able to so deeply feel things. Since the last time I stood at the Guadalquivir and cried, I don’t think I’ve felt anything so deeply or so truly. I don’t think I’ve let myself and I wonder if I ever will again. I wonder if, now that I know how it feels, I´m brave enough to try.

Anyhow, going to Córdoba flashed a lot of memories before my eyes. So many, in fact, that I’d have plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike that city, to run from it and never go back. And yet I love it more than any other place I’ve known because there was so much good there, and there’s even more good now because of this weekend and because of this: I am still miraculously, wonderfully alive. Also, I am still miraculously, wonderfully equipped with a heart to break. (Hey! Don’t laugh!—for a while, the jury was truly out on that). Most of all, today, I am miraculously and wonderfully happy.

It’s about damn time.

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