“At least you don’t live in Australia,” R. told me as I was sorting and folding and packing. His words were meant to offer me, to offer us, some short of reassurance that the distance was doable, travelable for two frequent flyers like us.
Maybe it’s travel psychology, but I could swear the trip back home always feels like flying to Australia, though. It is slower, tired-er, and longer. This trip back, for example, required a three-hour train to Barna, a 25-minute metro to the aeroport, a 6-hour linger in a dark airport with clueless security guards who ask you for your boarding pass trying to keep ruffians from spending a night in the airport (all the while you’re thinking, “tío, would I be on this side of the gates if I had that yet?!”), a two-hour flight to Frankfurt, a three-hour layover wandering through the construction-site-expensive-coffee-haven of a place only to board a 8.5 hour flight and be greeted with a 2.5 hour drive home. Sum total: 25+ hours if anyone is counting. Might as well be Down Under.
If anything, it gives me time to reflect on the blessed three weeks I got to spend with my best friend in some of my very favorite places. Recently, I read that we underestimate how much we will change in the future—that we always fancy ourselves at the peak of our own evolution only to look back a few years (or heck, a few weeks!) later and see just how much we have changed and how much we are changing. What I know for sure, to steal Oprah’s token phrase, is that every time I’m in the Mediterranean, I change. This time, for instance, was the first time I really felt like I was going home—I had people to visit, I had a daily routine, and I knew exactly where I was going. I even felt a little bit Spanish yesterday; you see, walking with through the streets of Valencia with Rafa (or any of his colegas), it is impossible to escape greeting at least a handful of acquaintances, exchanging niceties and evening plans. If nothing else, the Spaniard is a social animal like none other.
So, imagine my surprise when I had this quintessential Spanish experience on the train yesterday, seeing not one but two people I know! One—the friend of a friend, and the other, P., the young adolescent-turning-young-woman whose family I lived with when I first came to Valencia. Three years later, she approached me on the train (I never would’ve recognized her) and I was speechless. I think about those three rascally kids every time I’m in VLC and a happenstance encounter with one of them on the train was simply wonderful.
I’ve got lots more to learn this semester; I know I will change and grow and learn. May you, too, feel a positive expansion of your mind and soul this Spring (and hopefully, slightly less expansive hours spent traveling!)
Regarding what we ate the last day…
Picnic at the market (a R & K classic that usually includes hummus, pan de cereales, olives and jamón) and dinner from El Racó take-away back at the House on Hazelnut Street (where R.’s Brit friend and I took on a bottle of red wine like true Anglo-Saxons).