I’ve been staring at a blank post for a few weeks now unable to write. I’ve been bogged down by a few external stresses (writing my master’s thesis, finishing up my internships, moving out, etc.) that have prevented me from getting in front of the computer to write this post. Due to an expired visa, no job contract to renew, no teaching gig, and no money, the only viable option was to return to the United States. As much as I’d like to see my friends and family back home, my heart lies deeply buried in Spain and I do not want to leave. However, sometimes in life, one must do what needs to be done, and in my case, I must walk away from the place I love most.
I’ve said this before to friends, but I’d like to repeat it here:
There are student visas, there are work visas, but there still aren’t ones for the love one may have for a place. It is because of this, I have to retreat back to the United States. I am American, but it is not my country. I am a man without a nation. I would like a world without borders where people can live wherever they want. We are all human beings and geography shouldn’t divide us.
And then I finish that statement with a big, Viva España.
So as I write this from the mattress on the floor in the office of my uncle’s house in Albany, New York, I can tell you I have no idea how to write this entry. I’ve thought about how I am going to do it and how I am possibly going to find to words to my current situation, so I guess I’ll just take you back a few weeks.
I have made several new friends in Barcelona, those of which have incredibly vibrant personalities, just like everyone I’ve met here in Europe. My coworkers have been terrific and supportive and as hopeful as I am for the future, even as I leave Spain. In these last weeks, I got to visit a place I hadn’t gotten to all year and I went back to an old one, bringing on nostalgic reminisces of a time much different than what life is now.
I got to take a small group of students with Eli, my coworker and friend to Codorníu, which I had heard about since my internship takes students there, but I hadn’t made it there quite yet. Once I got there, I immediately wished that my boss had signed me up for more trips because we got a personal tour of a 200-hundred year old Catalan cava cellar (cava = Spanish, or in this case Catalan, champagne). We got to visit the underground vessels of the old factory where we were able to whisk away inch-thick foamy dust from the tops of hundreds of years old bottles of cava. After eating the jamones and quesos that they put out for us, and of course after a fulfilling sampling of their finest cavas, we got back on the bus to head to Sitges, another city I had never been to.
I would have loved to have spent more time in Sitges because it was so peaceful and beautiful. And although it is a traditionally Catalan beach-town, it reminded me of some of my favorite small Spanish towns. Whereas Barcelona makes me feel as if I’m not in Spain, Sitges brought me back to a country I love. There, Eli and I wandered around, got a coffee, then picked up our sunbaked American students.
My second to last weekend, we got to go to Valencia with over 60 students. And as stressful as that sounds, we didn’t have a peep out of the kids. I got to spend a fantastic weekend out with my coworkers (when the students had “free time” that is) and sleep in a cozy bed in an air-conditioned room, one of those simple luxuries that Spanish apartments seemingly do not have.
My final weekend in Barcelona was spent in probably the best way. A part of Madrid came out to visit and party it up one final time. Carlo, my good Italian buddy flew out Friday afternoon and we spent the weekend turning back pages of memory to the good ole days back in Madrid, got fried on the beach, drank till we slept, and did it all over again the next day.
It’s hard to imagine saying goodbye to anyone I have met in the past three years, whether they are the people I met in Madrid, in Barcelona, or traveling around. I find it almost impossible to write that yes, my time in Spain is up. The words don’t sound right, they don’t fit. I was the guy that always said he was never going back. But as all good things do come to an end, the chapter of my life in Spain has to be closed.
It is bittersweet as they say, but certainly much more bitter than sweet. I will miss the culture, the language, the people, the cities, and the mentality of the people, yet I know that this will not be forever. When you love a place so much, like I do Spain, you find a way back. I know that right now, I’m just in a transition to get there.
I wish there were a good way to say goodbye to everyone, but there just isn’t because it’s too difficult for me to list the amazing times, the fantastic people, and all the ridiculous stories that I know I’ll bore drunk American ears to at the bars here. I think I can bottle up the stories somewhat. They’ll just nestle inside my head and my heart as dreams of another life that only I was lucky enough to live.
I want to close this post with one last thought.
If only I were born into a European country, I’d have it all. They are free to move about and live in any of the 28-member countries of the European Union. Me, as an American, can only live in one, and it’s the last country I’d like to be in. Maybe in the future American politics will see a way to open up borders and make it easier for people to live here (such as with Mexico), but until that day, I’ll have to stand by John Lennon’s words: “Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do.”
Europe has done it, so why can’t we too? We are all people of this planet so why can I not be in a place that I love so dearly? Well with that, I will laugh in the face of American unilateralism and just have to stick it to the man and marry the first European gal that wishes to give me European papers (I’m not joking you know!)
I refuse to say adios because I’m coming back (with wedding papers or not). I don’t know if next time will be better, but I can’t wait to give it a shot!
Write more soon,