Today after class, I went back to my room and I had a moment. I spread out all of the papers I needed to study for finals, I made a list of things I wanted to pack or leave here, and I realized that I was wasting my time. I have less than two weeks here, and at a time of day when I don’t need to be studying or worrying about anything, I was choosing to sit in my room instead of going out to enjoy my experience here while it still lasts. I got my coat and my headphones and I took the long walk to the river. Along the way, I got hot and tired and wanted to turn back and lay in my bed, but I kept pushing forward knowing I could stop and sit at a bench by the river for as long as it took me to recover. By the river, it was almost completely silent minus the sound of rushing water downstream. Few people were out along the trails, and even the water sat still and calm. I sat down and I wrote for an hour. Stream of consciousness to the max, but it felt so good, and even though none of it was really resolved, it just felt good to put my feelings out there.
There was a lot to be said, and part of that was that going back, while it is exciting because I get to see my family again, is also really weird. It’s like, I’m abruptly going back to a life I haven’t lived for three and a half months, and I’m suddenly abandoning this one right when it’s beginning. It’s like putting down a book halfway through a paragraph or turning off a movie fifteen minutes in. I don’t know what would happen if I were to pursue this life, and I won’t get to. I know that it’s technically all the same life, but going back to pick up where I left off is just so odd to me. I am different, ever so slightly, and the things I feel like I’m only beginning to learn so many important things about myself and about Spain, other people, and the world. And I feel like a lot of what I’m going back to won’t understand that completely. We’ll see how it goes in real life, but for now, it feels weird and also really mixed, because on the one hand, I am excited to come home too. Partly, I feel like I’ve just been selfish for three and a half months, and I’m ready to get back into life and focus on loving other people. I’ve made resolutions for myself to help me make room for loving other people and the world more when I get back. And really, those resolutions started today.
I’ve decided I’m going to try to make these two weeks the best part of my trip so far. Linger at the dinner table after meals. When I walk around, I just want to observe. I think for a long time I tried to give the benefit of the doubt to this country and its people, instead of just looking at it for what it is. I tried to make it into something it isn’t, but that’s silly because it’s really interesting on its own. So I’m trying to notice that more. For instance, today I noticed that they installed recycling bins just for olive oil containers. I saw a lot of older people. And now, when I see high heels I think it’s weird because not many people wear them here with all the cobblestones. They genuinely look odd to me now. It isn’t a very technology-savvy city, at least in the school. And they spend a lot of time cleaning up the city and restoring streets and buildings.
After a big lunch, I was invited to a coffee shop to work on a project with a friend from my class. She is awesome, and when our other friend went to class, her and I talked for about two hours about our lives, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and stories. And she didn’t judge. Her and I actually had a lot of similar views. We talked about some of the things I had written earlier at the river, and she shared a lot of those feelings too. It was exactly the kind of conversation and friend I’ve been craving lately. I might go back out with her and our other friend later, but I also might sleep instead. I was also invited to go out with friends for drinks and ice cream. I think everyone’s starting to feel that time is almost gone, and most of us are feeling a lot of mixed things about it. So I might give in and give up a little sleep to spend some extra time with the people here. But I also might sleep. It’s a toss up.
When I walked home from the cafe, I saw the Salamanca holiday lights on for the first time, and it made me feel so homey. One plan for the week is to walk through the city at night and follow all the lights.