I’ve begun counting down the hours until I leave for home; it’s even easier now that the number is less than ten. As a matter of fact, the number is now 6. How am I spending these last hours? Right now, I’m trying my best to eat an entire funghi pizza while TV surfing; but it’s a sad state of affairs when I’m more drawn to commercials than actual programming. My mind wandered, and I decided to blog to pin it down.
As Derek could tell you, I am hard-pressed to finish a thought if I’m not telling it to someone. Thinking without dictating is like trying to put together a puzzle around a baby (my sister will understand this metaphor). As a child, the best way for me to sort through my feelings was to argue with the mirror. Sometimes I will spend hours thinking around an issue, the harder I clutch at it the more it drifts away, yet the solution becomes clear within a few sentences of trying to explain it to someone else.
The last of my friends to leave the city, I spent the evening marking off a to-do list that included cake, hazelnut gelato, and thin-crust pizza. These are my favorite kinds of to-do lists, and yet I procrastinated: I window-shopped for colorful strappy sandals and last-minute souvenirs, bought a bright blue summer purse, and discovered a fresh-made pasta store. I felt some kind of pang when I saw the pasta store; I’d been looking for fresh pasta all year. But I couldn’t try any now; I’ll have to wait until next year. I shoved the pang aside.
Later on, while admiring the street glowing orange against a deepening cerulean sky, I revisited that pang. What was it all about? I know where to buy fresh pasta in Ann Arbor… but I won’t be returning to that familiar semi-squalor in run-down rental housing in a college town. I’ll return to a suburb across the state without sidewalks, where everyone is is quiet by 9pm and lights are out by 11pm — it will actually be scary to walk in the streets at night; people are suspicious of you on the street even if you’re just asking for directions; and you’re not allowed to smile at strangers’ babies. If I take a nap between 2pm and 5pm and eat dinner at 10pm, people will think I’m lazy. All the dogs are on leashes.
Despite the economy, Spanish life makes so much sense to me now. There’s balance, there’s beauty, there’s culture, there’s trust. As my Spanish improves, I can see myself living here for a long, long time.
It’s easy to remember the good things about home, too; I’ve had plenty of practice mooning over the things I miss about the United States these past few months. I even have a rudimentary to-do list beyond hanging out with family and friends:
- Finish the quilt I’m making for Derek’s mom
- Make the two dresses I bought supplies for a year ago
- Take the GRE
- Try a few recipes from Herbivoracious
- Help clean the house and get rid of some of my junk that’s in storage
- Go fruit picking, hiking, visit the beach, swim in the pool in the back yard, run around barefoot with my niece, cuddle my kitty cat, drink a pint of craft beer, eat some tasty international food, enjoy local ice cream, get someone to take a picture of me in which I do not look like a pirate
Nevertheless, I felt a surge of bitterness as I carried my food purchases home. Despite my homesickness, Sevilla is starting to feel familiar. I’m going to come back for another year, and then how will I feel? We work so few hours we can barely call ourselves employed; with the remaining time, I’m forming relationships with the people and things of this city, even if it’s just change over time. The neighbors across the street are almost done remodeling. Someone broke the foot pedal of the trash dumpster on Calle Urquiza. The trees across the street from the park have bright yellow conical offshoots. The geckos are back, scurrying out of the sun to hide beneath the jasmine vines that now reach halfway into the sidewalk. I recognize this city. I have memories here. I’m going to make more. And after next year, when the idea that this is “home” no longer feels novel but is a simple fact of life, I’m going to leave. And I can never come back; not like this. And that stinks.
So, what exactly do I like about Sevilla?
I like the color of the streets, here. I like the reliable distribution of stores; shoes and bazaars are everywhere, and you can count on a baby clothes store at least once per block. I like the fresh fruit stands that hand you your fruit order wrapped in thick paper cones. I like the fresh, cool mornings and slightly muggy but comfortable evenings. I like hiding from the sun in mid-day, when I’m always sleepy anyway, eating an enormous meal at lunch-time and sleeping it off along with everyone else. I like Spanish.
I like my bedroom on the 5th floor and how I can lean over the street and people watch. I like how I’ve arranged my bedroom and the amount of light that comes in through the window. I like crumbling plaster in the city center, the park benches throughout the city that are actually used to socialize and relax outside, the way that I can usually still hear children running around outside and playing when I go to bed at 1am.
I like the dogs who trot happily off their leashes, despite the busy streets and the foot traffic. I like that the train station is a block away, as well as the bus to the airport. A bus to the bus station is only 2 blocks away. At a moment’s notice, I can go to Paris, Rome, Ronda, Córdoba, Cádiz, Madrid. I never have to drive.
Looking through all my pictures from this past year, I am amazed at the things I have seen and done, and how it already feels so far away. Amsterdam? A lifetime ago! Even London is an old memory. What will I be doing in 5 years that will make Seville feel like a former life? I can’t even begin to imagine.
Luckily I don’t have to yet, because I’m coming back next year.