It struck me then that I’d be leaving behind someone I love for the rest of my life. Being the woman I am, with the ambitions that I have, with the dreams I mean to pursue, I probably will not stay in any one place for the rest of my life. Being the woman I am, I also know that I’ll always be crying as I go.
* * *
That sappy little jewel is dated September the 2nd, 2007—the day I left for Madrid for the first time. As my plane took off from Barajas just three days ago [whoops! started this entry on Wednesday and have obviously yet to finish it. Happy Sunday, kids!], a memory of this sentiment echoed through my head in a melodramatic, movie-flashback kind of way, inspiring me to riffle through the pages of my Moleskine (already out and prepared to be imbued with my most recent travel-maundering) to find it. More than a year later on a plane bound for the opposing shore, I found the same words still poignant and true.
My past week’s trip to Madrid was one of those experiences that, suffice it to say, was too good, too cognitively and emotionally thick, too replete with a ridiculous amount of rest and rejuvenation and meaning—simply too exactly everything I needed—for me to explain it well or thoroughly here. On the most physical, active of planes, it involved a lot of coffee and a lot of time alone to write, to think and to come back to the middle. It included reunions with Morgan, Rachel, Amber and David and visiting my sweet 3rd grade class from last year. While at Ramiro I also got to see Paul and Meredith, who still work there, along with Belén, one of the coolest teachers I met during my time as a Fulbrighter. The week involved checking in with my heart and my head and figuring out where in the world I’ve been for the past six months, not to mention realizing I’ve gotten very lost over the span of the past two years. It included taking a small chance and reclaiming an opportunity on which I never, ever should have missed out. It involved letting myself be a little impulsive, a little vulnerable, and, well… a little naked…in more ways than two. (; It involved Galician cheese and multiple cañas, episodes of 30 Rock with Morgan, and catharsis. It also involved a fair amount of shopping, being as it’s rebajas time in Madrid and beautiful things are a glorious 70% off. The number of scarves now in my ownership is absolutely repugnant.
So, the trip was good. I mean… it was beyond good. I know that that can’t mean much to you, but do understand, dear reader, that it means the world to me. The trip’s very goodness is probably why I find it so difficult to explain. Instead of an attempt at any further paragraph-form explanation or elaboration, here are a few highlights:
- Running in the sunshine through Retiro Park–Me! Running! Really! For miles! THREE TIMES!
- Teaching Morgan’s wonderful roommate, Fran, some choice slang, such as to “bang,” to “rail,” and to “bump.” Further, learnin’ him real good about Dirty Sanchez, blumpkins and a passel of other rather grotesque shiz that would inspire my dear Ms. Austen to roll over in her early grave.
- Baking 50 cupcakes and a carrot cake for Morgan’s 24th birthday party
- Finally, after having lived in Madrid for a year and visiting Pepe Botella countless times, scoring a window seat by which to watch the gloaming. Sipping coffee there. Mulling. Writing.
- Being largely over my fear of sounding stupid in Spanish and just diving comfortably in, incorrect subjunctive and all
- Subsequently being mistaken for a madrileña by a number of sales clerks! It’s amazing how much more easily banter comes when one forcibly ceases to be nervous.
- Afternoon coffee and dishing with Rachel (something that ought to have happened a lot more often last year! Something that may happen more often again?)
- Eating a big, hearty foccaccia sandwich from Pizzaiolo, seated in a sliver of sunlight on a stone bench in a Plaza I love, which is somewhere off of Fuencarral but whose name I’ll never know
- Reconnecting with Ali, whose visit to Spain happened to overlap with mine for a single night of vermouth on the tap at Bar Automático and drinks on Huertas with David and Ali’s friend Christian
- Feeling my heart swell forth again. Feeling excited about life again. Feeling excited about the future again.
- For that matter: feeling.
- Realizing that home is with the people I love, and that I am both blessed and cursed to have homes on more than one continent.
There is so much more I could say. I could tell you how I feel more myself in Spain, or that I love my new hair cut (photograph below!). I suppose it’s worth reporting that I adore the people I left there (the ones I already mentioned, and I’m sure a few I didn’t). The most important thing I have to say after this trip, though, is that I’m okay. I’m more okay, in fact, than I’ve been in months, or maybe even years. I feel like I better understand how my future should unfold now–or at least that I’m nearing some sort of resolution–and how my past has been shaping it for years without my acknowledging it. Funny how life works like that.
And so, all is well in Caitlin land. Here are some pictures. There may be more stories later. For now, I’m catching to my chest the glistening gems of my days in Spain and letting their light reflect onto me. If we run into one another on the street, I’ll be the tall white girl with the sassy hair cut and the far away look, smiling and mumbling to herself in Spanish.
Another event most miraculous did occur over my last weekend in Madrid–a little romantic vignette about which a choice few of you know. I, because I like to keep my memories in written form (especially when they’re this outrageously swell!), will be penning it here sometime in the next week. It’ll be password protected, so if you’d like to read it, you’ll have to comment and ask for the magic words. Be forewarned, however, that if you are not the type to occasionally enjoy a well-crafted romance or a good instance of cinematic happenstance, steer clear–you will gag. (;