Smiles From My Living Room

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I’m sitting comfortably in my living room, flanked on either side by what can only be described as two very lazy felines, sipping a glass of crisp white wine on a cool evening in late June. Like so many summer nights before, I’m feeling purely and utterly content in my downtown Barcelona abode. The swallows are gracefully dive-bombing through the air catching their evening meal as the sun sets the sky ablaze with fabulous hues of pinks, oranges, and reds. The low hum of passersby, now mostly jovial tourists, wafts from the street below as their grumbling bellies and dog-eared guidebooks send them hurriedly on their quest of a dining experience not-to-be-missed while in this city by the sea. A plucky sound from an acoustic guitar is interrupted by the occasional explosion of a “petardo”, or firework that is leftover from Monday’s San Joan festival, sending myself and the cats into a moment of panic and dangerously high blood pressure. These are all the usual goings-on of a life in a bohemian barrio, one that I have embraced for four years in this very piso, but yet nothing about this night is usual.

Instead of my cozy sofa I am perched atop a thin palette on the floor of an empty apartment. Rather than flipping channels on the tube, I am staring at a computer screen and the bare walls of my once comfortable little living room. I have two very furry and personable cats keeping me company while my husband plants roots in our new adopted city several hours down the road in Madrid. I am all alone and have almost nothing of “home” with me, and still I am happy. Dr. Seuss steals me away for a moment: it’s Whoville on Christmas morning. The Grinch has stolen the trappings of a happy Christmas in the middle of a cold winter’s night, leaving nothing but scraggly wire on the walls and a sad, lone glass ornament in the middle of a deserted living room. But tiny little CindyLou Who, and all of the other Whos down in Whoville, doesn’t cry. Instead, they begin to sing, their hearts filled with a spirit of true happiness. I’m not crying either, at least not yet. Not even the movers who have packed away all my possessions in a sterile metal truck can take away the spirit that fills my 75 square meter slice of happiness.

For me this is the spirit of Barcelona, and maybe even Spain. I have just returned from a despedida weekend with a few girls who have grown near and dear to my heart, and not one tear was shed…well, except for the final hasta luego. I’m far too sentimental to say goodbye without the waterworks! We all agreed that Sunday was one of the best days we’ve spent in a while, but what did we do to make it so special? NOTHING. And, all of this nothing was done on the beach, two hours south of our beloved Barcelona, in a little town known as Peñiscola. From one o´clock in the afternoon to midnight, we didn’t leave the beach. We talked, we laughed, we napped, we drank (which led to napping), we swam, we sang, and we danced, danced, DANCED! This is the kind of memory I want to take with me, the kind of memory that captures the spirit of a lifestyle, the spirit of a place, the spirit of a people.

If I am to learn anything from my time here in Barcelona, it’s that happiness is found in who you’re with rather than in what you have. I will cherish the true happiness I have found with friends on rooftops, on the beach, in the halls of ASB, in my classroom, at Alfa, in my kitchen, in my friends’ kitchens, discovering the phenomenon known as Eurovision in a friend’s living room, on trains, on planes, on a bull run, and in this very living room. And right now I am smiling, even with four days left in Barcelona, because I am happy to have had these moments.

Beauty by the Med

Peñiscola in the spotlight
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