This is the strangest sensation i've ever experienced. Somewhere between really excited, really content, really lonely and really scared. Rachel (my travel buddy) left last night, Julie (my roommate) left this morning. My host family left this afternoon. I'm alone in Granada. And for the first time, I think ever in my life, I am bombarded with the feeling of complete independence. And it's very frightening. I woke up this morning, after Julie left and my first thought was "That's it, I'm all alone now" Of course I'm not really alone. I've got Sara until next tuesday, and Laney until the 31st. I had my first experience apartment hunting, which was terrifying and wonderful: Two of my fellow americans and I decided to rent a room in an apartment together. We went to the apartment, talked to the flatmates, and everything was peachy. Until later that night- when the flatmates reconviened and decided that they didn't want us to live there. Mind you, this happened yesterday, and today is my last day living in the apartment with my hostmom. So of course I start freaking out. I go from hostel to hostel, asking for prices and for work, hoping that if they hire me, i'll be able to get a discount on the price of living there for 20 days. No luck. Finally, I run into an acquaintance/ a friend of a friend on the street, explain to him why I looked so upset, and he proceeds to tell me that there is an empty space in the flat where he is living. Apparently the apartment is owned by an older spanish man, who has 4 empty rooms for the summer and is subleting them out for 8 euro a night. he shows me the apartment, which is fully furnished, has hot water and a fully functional kitchen and bathroom. It seems wonderful. And so after a lot of thought, I think I'm going to take it. The owner seems pretty nice, although his thick accent is kind of hard for me to understand sometimes. I met one other person living there, a young man from Morrocco, who seems really friendly and nice, so I'm not too worried. The only thing about the apartment that has me kind of nervous is the fact that I will be living with 4 men. But my room has a lock on it, and I think everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. I move in tomorrow.
This morning I walked all over granada by myself. I just really needed to get out of the house because it is dark and empty. I walked through the albayzin at 9am, and it was so beautiful. No one was out on the streets and everything was still quiet. I walked across town from the albayzin to parque de garcia lorca and sat on a bench and read a book for 2 hours. An old man walked past me and we had a strange conversation:
"Hola" (not looking at me)
"Do you like to read?"
"I don't like to read at all" (sitting on the bench across from me)
"Oh. Why not?"
(something along the lines of): I like reading letters. Just not books. I don't like books at all. I like letters, like the kind you get in the mail, not like those email letters you kids have all the time (mumbling incoherently about email and kids or something)"
"Oh" (I continue reading)
"So what do you study?"
"Here in Granada or in my country?"
"Where is your country?"
"The United states"
"Ha! You kids from the US just love Spain don't you. I don't understand it at all (mumbling incoherently about kids from the US studying in spain or something) You like granada?"
"Yeah, I like it a lot"
"What time is it"
(he looks at his watch) "12:30"
"Oh, well I have to go"
"Yeah, I have to meet some friends"
"It was nice meeting you"
I don't know if he was crazy, weird or just lonely and socially awkward. But I really like how people here are a lot more friendly than in the US. I can't imagine sitting in a bar or in a park in pennsylvania or new york city and just striking up a conversation with someone, just because they look interesting.The idea of it seems really scary to me for some reason, although I do it all the time here, and when I do it here it is in spanish. You'd think that speaking to someone in english would be a lot less intimidating, but there's something about the culture, at least east coast culture that makes me afraid to talk to people. I'm sure I'll forget about the culture difference when I'm there, maybe it'll just slip out and I'll surprise someone. Maybe I could make a friend...or they could just tell me to fuck off.
I had an indepth conversation with my flamenco teacher last night (seems like we talk more than dance). She is such a wonderful woman, very emotional and sensitive, but really caring. She was upset at Laney and me because we cancelled our lunch date (I cancelled because it was Julie and my last lunch together, Laney cancelled because she was buying fireworks from some gitanos in some pueblo....?!)She just poured her heart out to us, and started crying. She's really upset I think because her life is this dance studio, and most everyone she meets is forgien. And because she is so friendly and caring, she becomes friends with all her students. But then they just leave her after a semester or two. And so she feels she has no stability or constant friends in her life. It's really quite sad. But while she was telling me about how she hates saying goodbye, about how she hates the unstable lifestyle with people constantly coming and going, all I could think was "that's life" And was really shocked at my indifference and insensitivity. I expected myself to start crying when she started crying, but that just didn't happen. I felt bad for her, but I didn't feel bad. It kind of bothered me, and I've been thinking about it a lot. Ana suffers because she expects things in her life to be constant and permanent. But I've come to understand that nothing is really permenant. Even friends that you've had forever and ever change, and it's only if you allow them to change that the relationship still exists, and even then, the relationship is different. It's part of life to lose things, it's part of life to experience loss. Life is all about the experiences you have with those people. And even though it hurts to let them go, you know that the pain is a result of something beautiful, that the pain has its essence in something wonderful and special. And therefore the pain, though it hurts, is something beautiful and affirming in itself. And besides, you never really lose people. People and experiences come and go, and if you do it right, they leave little marks on your life and your personality. Nothing is extraordinary and meaningful in essence, and therefore everything is extraordinary and meaningful. I wanted to tell her that, I wanted to tell her not to cry and not to be sad. Life is to be lived with open palms, not clenched fists. I wanted to tell her, but I don't think she was ready to hear that. So I'm going to lunch with her on monday. And I swear I won't cancel this time.
The concept of "going home" seems so strange to me. Where is home? I don't even know anymore. Julie pulled out a 20 dollar bill yesterday and i felt a wave of nostalgia. Last night while I was lying in bed, I pictured myself walking through the Philadelphia airport and to my surprise I didn't feel disgust or sadness; I felt secure. Is it the same feeling of security I get when I am on the bus coming back into the city of Granada after a trip elsewhere? Maybe, but it's more strong. I feel like I belong here, I feel comfortable here. But when I think about things like the Philadelphia airport, my dorm room, my house, I just get confused. I can see myself living here for the rest of my life. I can see myself opening a practice here and working with study abroad students who have probelms adjusting. I can see myself living in a house in the albayzin, or perhaps an apartment in realejo. But I also see myself going to Grad school in the states, becoming a professor or joining a practice there. I can see myself living in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, or somewhere in the vast unknown called the West coast. How can I belong in two so completely different places? How can I see myself living two completely different lives? Is it possible that my soul could thrive anywhere? And if so, where is home really?
If someone were to ask me what I see myself doing in the next five years, I wouldn't be able to answer. For the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to be doing. It's like someone opened the flood gates. There is so much possibility in the world. How can I possibly choose? How can I possibly say how I'm going to feel, who I'm going to meet and where I'm going to be in the next five years? I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow.
So my life in granada as a student has come to a close. All day yesterday, I felt like some kind of impostor, like I should be going home, as if by my staying here, I would curse Granada, and my experience would lose some of it's magic. But this morning after I walked around a bit, I realized that my experience here is what I make it. It's just a city and I'm just a traveler, and I'm surrounded by citizens and other travelers. So I'm really feeling some closure. It's strange, I was expecting some sort of desperation, some kind of urge to run all over the place and hug and kiss random buildings and people just for being part of granada, or rather my experience of granada. Sometimes I feel that way but mostly it's just a feeling of peace, with occasional uncertainty. Is this how real life feels? It must be.
I don't know when I started thinking in riddles. These next three weeks will be interesting, to say the least.