Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe a one-syllable word can trigger such infinite emotions. Spain. When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to travel there several times to study and work. Spanish language, culture, history, music, art, and architecture inspired me to no end. Two weeks ago, I returned to Spain for the first time since 1996. During my stay I received two life-altering gifts.
Every day for 14 years, I was haunted by the desire of returning to my passion-filled adopted country. I wanted to see if I remembered the language that I spent half of my life learning. I longed to reconnect with the musk-filled air and rhythmic sway of the city. I needed to go back to let go. So I reclaimed the part of me that had been missing since my last visit, and this was my first gift.
Throughout our trip, my boyfriend and I spent time with my close Spanish friends who I’ve known since I was a teenager. We took the high-speed train to Barcelona and visited La Rambla, La Pedrera, Casa Battló, Park Güell, Sagrada Familia, and Santa Maria Del Mar Basilica. We savored the Spanish countryside in the province of Ávila. In Madrid, we visited the Palacio Real, Plaza Mayor, Puerta de Alcalá, and Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. We watched live flamenco and ate our weight in queso manchego and Jamón serrano. We walked dozens of miles and lounged at countless outdoor cafés as I attempted to memorize every building, every face, every color.
And then at El Retiro, one of the world’s most gallant and historic parks, I accepted the most meaningful gift of all: a future husband. After my fiancée’s proposal I realized that all moments of my life, including those in my sacred Spain, led me to an entirely new place of unencumbered spirit that can’t be pinned by latitudinal or longitudinal coordinates.