Today is the one-month anniversary of my trip to Madrid, which means I’ve officially been home for just as long. Apart from a few cultural factors, it seems almost like I never left the U.S. but rather just fell asleep and when I woke up, my dreams lingered. The only difference is the dreams are actually memories. It’s so strange how quickly life fades into that word: memory. I have all these images floating around in my head of Madrid and such a strong recollection of everything that happened there, that it contrasts with my current reality. I suppose, however, that’s what memory is: a series of distinct images strung together with the ghosts of words and a feeling of nostalgia.
One month ago, I touched down in New York City, exhausted and disillusioned by my travels. A painfully long layover and a quick flight later, I was reuniting with my family and Zack. Despite my dismay at leaving Madrid, there was nothing quite like the sight of my family waiting for me just beyond the gate. Mel, Dawn, Dad, Joey, Mom, and Zack were all seated on the other side of the glass divider and when they saw me, their eyes lit up, and they rushed to meet me. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t even know who to hug first. On a side note, hugs: VERY American. I’m not talking dos besos, or quick embraces, I’m talking full-on body squishes, taking someone and literally squeezing the life out of them. Those are the kinds of hugs I missed so much while I was abroad, and in the airport, that’s exactly what I got, along with flowers, iced coffee, and Blistex (thanks America for fixing my dried lips). It doesn’t matter who you are, nothing compares to the feeling of coming home. Whether you’ve traveled from China to Alaska, Canada to Argentina, or, in my case, Spain to New York, it’s always nice to see the ones you love again.
Flash forward to today and the excitement of being home is starting to settle into a comfortable rhythm that was ultimately inevitable. On Monday through Friday, I wake up and work eight-and-a-half-hour days, eat American food, and sleep normally (that one took me a while to adjust). Lather, rinse, repeat. Every now and then I get the random munchies at ten p.m. when I would be eating dinner in Spain or I get the urge to respond in Spanish when I accidentally bump into someone in public. Beyond that, though, I had more pride than ever before on the 4th of July and actually knew for once in my life what it meant to be American. I’ve been seeing my friends and boyfriend as much as I can and am currently looking forward to spending a week down in Florida (heck yes to keeping the travels going!). I’ve been pinching pennies to payoff some of the debt I incurred abroad and now know the meaning of being poor. Merecía la pena!
I do miss walking the streets of Madrid and eating crepes in La Puerta del Sol and I do miss my café con leche every morning. I miss practicing Spanish every day and hopping on a plane to France for the weekend and staying up until 5 a.m. with Crystal eating our Palomitas de maíz while watching terribly-dubbed television. On the flip side, I’ve been fortunate enough as to go kayaking with my dad, stay up until 4 a.m. with my roommate eating Mighty Taco and talking about life, and sit in a parking lot near the airport with my babydaddy just watching all the planes take off to some unknown destination. Life is a checkerboard of good and bad living simultaneously together. Without one, the other would be spotty and parts of it would seem empty. Equally, when you leave something behind, there’s always something else waiting to happen, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. Memories happen all the time, and sometimes you don’t even realize when they’re being made. So while I polish off my memories of Madrid and keep them alive, I’m trying my best to make new memories here. Hey, you don’t have to be in Europe to have fun!