During my year in Madrid the American, home-centric time I most consistently missed was Sunday mornings. I fantasized about the special slant of sunlight, the early morning conversation over cups of coffee with my mother, and rubbing a sun warmed tabby cat behind the ears. Tonight I was reminded of the other time I love–also involving quality of light, my nonpareil of a mother and aforementioned winsome gray tabby. It’s close enough to Thanksgiving and Christmas now to lend the house that cozy, sealed-for-winter-hibernation air; there are few lights, shut shades, flickering candles that make it smell like a holiday. I went downstairs at around ten to visit with my mom in the kitchen, parking myself by the extra boot-donning chair and vigorously rubbing down the sweet little feline while my mom and I chatted. Flora squinted up at me between paw-kneads and purrs with flirtatious, smiling feline eyes. My mom tottered around the house, blowing out candles, humming, peppering me with questions about my writing, about my tomorrow. After making plans about what we’ll cook for dinner tomorrow we walked upstairs together and hugged good night. I closed my bedroom door and slipped between the clean flannel sheets I’d put on the big, oak bed only a few hours before. I felt my heart wander West–just for an instant–but I stopped it, reminding myself to stay in the moment. I am here. I am safe. I am singular but loved. I am home.
I miss Madrid at least once every day, and I wonder now–especially now–why it was that I left. I could be eating oil-drizzled, manchego topped tostas at the Rastro on Sunday mornings, cooking dinners with Morgan and grabbing café con leche with Rachel–hell, perhaps I could even be dating David by now! But, all pointless meditation on passed possibilities aside, I feel lucky, so lucky, to have this place to call my home. I am grateful I had a home to come to when my feet hit US soil in June. It felt a little like giving up to me when I made the decision not to move out for this year, to hold court in my childhood bedroom and lay me down each night between four pink walls and lace curtains, but in light of life’s recent hectic careering, I’m happy for the ways in which things decided to work.
At the risk of sounding whingey, I’ll admit that over the past few months I feel as though a lot of things I valued have been snatched from beneath my curving fingertips: droves of friends I deeply loved, the freedom attendant upon having my own wheels, the levity and fulfillment I used to experience upon going to work every day when that place was still like a family, and of course, the person I made the mistake of loving more than anything else–the person who very nearly redefined my notion of “home.” If I’d had to pay for an apartment after hours having been cut at work, if I’d had to find a way to get myself around without a car all the time, if I’d had to keep functioning without consistent, cheery company in the form of my mother after Greg’s casting my heart insensitively and willfully aside, I don’t know how upright or sweet or sane I’d feel today. I can, however, promise that I’d be a lot less all right than I am. I’m 23, yes, but I still benefit from a momma to hug and a sweet little kitty to cuddle. Especially now.
Sometimes you need to grow up, branch out, and have an adventure–I know, because I’ve done it now–in a foreign country–twice. This is not to say that I’ll never again run away to Iberian landscapes, to orange trees at night, to copas and cañas and anonymity and Spanish noise. This is just to say that sometimes, even if you don’t recognize it right away, even if you worry it’ll hurt your overblown, smart-kid, overachieving pride, sometimes you just need to be in a bed with a footboard and flannel sheets on your bed. Sometimes you need home.