Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Semana Santa

There are times when I wish I could write in Spanish because I want to write for people who speak Spanish as their first language. I feel certain things and experience them in Spanish and it has a certain poetic quality that English does not hold for me. But even memories made in Spanish still translate themselves to English in my head and when I want to write something personal it only makes sense to do so in my mother tongue. So if I could write this in Spanish and say what I wanted- I would. In fact, if I could always say what I meant when speaking Spanish, well, I would do that too. But, for now, English will have to do.

"Have you written about us yet?" - Lucas asked me (in Spanish).
"What did you write?"
"Ah! You've written so many things you don't remember"

I hadn't yet but here goes- we all met in the hostel in Sevilla on the rooftop terrace when Lucas invited us to sit down and share some drinks. Two Argentine boys and an Italian girl traveling together and then us three girls- British, Italian and North American. The next day we made plans to meet up and went to to the river to drink mate- my first mate since I was in Argentina. I suddenly remembered sitting in Centro Conviven- passing around the mate cup- the fall sun shining through the open windows. Was it really so long ago? And was it so surreal to be in Sevilla- a place I never thought I'd go to- drinking yerba mate with new friends in a new country? From then on it seemed from there on out we were like a family on vacation. We stuck together.

"Can I try some?" I wanted some of Lucas's empanada- I was already so full from the best empanadas I've had in Spain but I wanted to try a caprese one.
"Just take a piece- as if we were friends our whole lives instead of for just two days" he said. That's how easy he is to get along with. I would like to be more like that. I would like the ability to just let people be my friend so easily instead of thinking about the last time I got hurt or worrying about whether I talk too much and if people like me. It must be easier to be that relaxed and it's a more beautiful way to be- welcoming.
Or be more optimistic like Panchi- who seems to have a positive word for everything and a balanced perspective. He seems to have the ability to just take it in and then give it all back. These are the two guys who will dive into the ocean with you and your crazy friend when the weather couldn't be any less beach-like just because you are there.
Then there are the girls, of course, who are so easy to just be with and make me revel slightly in the fact that we can have much-needed girl talk in our second language (with Italian and English thrown in). It's a bit miraculous if I think about it.
I wish I had more time to get to know Silvi better because she has an undeniable and obvious depth combined with a fantastic sense of humor. She is the kind of person you look across the table at and you both know what you are laughing about without saying anything.
The girls I came with who are some of the first people I met here in Madrid and I can really be myself with them. Pepa, my British girl- so sweet and intelligent and Maria- my faithful theater class friend- who looked at me when we are shivering in the sea and said "Who would have thought that when we met in Madrid that we would be here now together?" I don't think I did but at that moment I felt so happy and so grateful.

Meeting people is one of the best possible reasons to travel and I am blessed to have had both the opportunity to travel and really wonderful people to meet. It's other people who allow you to move past yourself and open up your mind to new ways of being and thinking. Sometimes people are the ones that hold up a mirror and make you realize you need to give others the second chances you wish to receive. The guys made me rethink the way I'm not really fair when I'm mean about Argentine men or say that they are too "pesados" because my experiences are and were limited and I'm generalizing too much. I set my standards for the world so high that I forget to let people exceed them, meet them, surprise me. I leave out the positive as if everything good doesn't count but it does. It counts for a lot. I have a lot to learn. It's humbling. And yet, the fact that people have the patience to let me learn along with them in the same way they don't seem to mind bearing with my broken international mess of Spanish means a lot.

Maybe we'll all travel together again or run into each other in some other corner of the world but for now I'm just happy to know that I have these people to add into my memories of this year. Because when I remember Sevilla I'll remember the narrow streets and tiled bars, the flamenco music playing on the radio and when I think of Malaga I'll think of the cold gray sea and clouds but mostly I'll remember the joy in being with this unexpected group and the feeling of new friends.