I just went through security after hugging who I would count as my best Spanish friend-
“You really are a good actress!” he joked as I started to tear up.
“Yes! I’m going to go win my Oscar!”
The security man smiled.
I am amazed that I have friends who in nine months will not only meet me for a coffee to say goodbye but will actually offer to go to the airport with me. He carried my backpack and found a cart for my suitcases. He told me not to stress when the airline informed they would charge me fifteen Canadian dollars for every kilo my suitcases weighed over the limit. He helped me consolidate all of my belongings into one suitcase- pull out the boots to put on and put the lighter tennis shoes in- “Muy bien ‘look’ para Canada!”
A good ‘look’ for Canada- suede boots and all my jackets piled on. He weighed my one suitcase until we were sure it was under 25 kilos and took my empty one for me- “No te preocupes.”
He’s the one who told me he’d been my friend months ago and meant it. He consistnently went out of his way for me- to make sure I was okay when I seemed “off” or to be sure something said wasn’t lost in translation. He made an effort to help me intergrate into the school and even came to see me in the play I was in. He’s listened to me complain and put up with my teasing. When I’ve said it’s hard to make Spanish friends I discounted him- I shouldn’t have. He’s a friend for life and not just for here.
Last night I went out to my favorite Argentine resturant with my two girlfriends left in the city- my fellow American companera and my Italian friend. They’ve both been with me since the beginning. Mari gave me a collage of photos of us and Caterina bought me my dinner and gave me a card. The waiter put dulce de leche on my brownie and gave us free chupitas- “solo porque es tu ultima noche” - just because it’s your last night. It was surreal and special and exactly my favorite kind of Madrid night. I don’t know if anyone can understand our jokes- our mess of Spanish, English, Italian and Spanglish but I know that whatever it is we’re speaking I am so happy I know how. I’m so happy I’ve know them.
I didn’t think I’d feel sad to leave Spain. I knew I’d feel worn out as I’ve felt that for weeks now but this feeling is more unexpected. I’ve met some beautiful people on this side of the world. And despite the fact that I have never quite felt like I’ve found my footing in Spain- the people that gave me the most ground to stand on are people I don’t want to let go of.
It must be a typical airport feeling- the anxiety always comes with customs and boarding passes and making everything just in time. The uncertainity of what awaits you and wondering how home has changed. Maybe it has and maybe it hasn’t but you can never really tell becaue inevitably in so many ways- you yourself have changed.
You’ve gone further then you’d imagined going and still as hard as it has been the friend who just left you is proof that you’ve gained something good.