Based upon a true story of my own life during my time in Spain.writerrevolt.blogspot.com
|The day had come to say goodbye to an old world so foreign and yet eerily so familiar. Scott and I awoke in our cheap stale hostel beds and headed out for breakfast. As we walked together, our eyes darted from sight to sight. The sidewalk cafes, the orange trees, even the strange mullets of the young Spaniards. We were trying to suck it all into our heads, we were reaching out to grab something that was already evaporating. We bullshit a bit as we walked, but both of us knew it was already over. Scott kept telling me that he couldn’t wait to get home, to see his family, his friends, his home. I spit out something similar, but I wasn’t sure if I really meant it. I did miss my family, but I wasn’t sure if that was home anymore. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if this was home anymore. All the people who once populated this home- were gone.
We arrived at the home of Juan Romero and Cristina Terry, my Spanish parents. We stepped inside that beautiful villa, knowing it was most likely our last glimpse of its insides. I grabbed my things and we sat down with the family for one last meal. I savored it, I appreciated it as I could not appreciate all the others. Because this would be my last home-cooked Spanish meal. We finished, and prepared ourselves for another goodbye. The kids weren’t home, I never did say goodbye to them. They were pests, but still, it would be an incomplete goodbye. We stood in front of the doorway, and Cristina and Juan smiled. They had probably become accustomed to goodbyes of this sort, housing students like myself for years. Cristina embraced me and told me I would always be welcome. Don Juan repeated her words a bit hurriedly, probably itching to get back on his favorite couch and light up another Winston cigarette. It hit me then, that I would not be able to return. I could return to this villa years later, but it would no longer be my home. In fact, the moment I stepped past that thick heavy wooden door, it would cease to be my home and Cristina and Don Juan would cease to be my family. Another goodbye, and their ghosts joined the others in my head.
I looked over at Scottie as we made our way back to el Centro, he took off his sunglasses, and revealed red eyes straining to hold back tears. He was lucky. I would have loved to cry in that moment. Instead I was forced to shove the pain down, down into my guts, where it ripped and tore at me from inside. We stepped off the bus, and we were back at el Centro. We began walking the very path we had taken countless times over the past few months. It was the path that led to our favorite bars and clubs and our seats by the rio and Karl’s place and the Catedral and some of our most beloved memories. But on this occasion, we would not follow it to any of those places. On this day, we crossed the street and stopped. We were the last two from our program still in the city. We had become very close. Closer then I could remember being with any of my friends back home. Scottie looked at me and smiled. He smiled just as Cristina and Juan smiled. Just as every other person I had cared for, that I was forced to say goodbye to, had smiled. He was going to the airport early, he knew he had to, he knew I had to see her. And I knew it too, but it still tore me apart to have to say goodbye sooner than I could have. We hugged, and I told him I would try to catch him at the airport before his flight, but I knew I would never make it. Again the wretched clawing of grief, pushed down and held in, started to rattle and shake me. Another goodbye, another ghost.
I watched him walk off, and I turned and started in the other direction. I would make it a bit further down the path, but not even to the rio. I arrived at the door of the Starbucks, and a thousand thoughts flood my mind before I opened the door. I had no phone, I had to return it to my school earlier that day. So I had no way of knowing if she had tried to reach me. My only hope was that she’d stick to the plan we made the night before. Also, I was late by twenty minutes. What if she thought I’d forgotten, or got tired of waiting and left? What if she never came, what if she never cared to begin with?
I walked in, and started scanning the room for her until my eyes locked onto her. She was sitting with another girl, a fellow study-abroad student who took her cue to exit. I came over and sat with her. To my surprise, in her eyes, at the precise moment she saw me, I saw something that reflected my own pain. It shot past like lightning, but it was there. And I sank ever further into love. I met her two weeks ago, two fucking weeks! And with every day that passed, I had to work harder and harder to convince my friends that I knew what I was doing, that I wasn’t in love. But now, she was the last one left in this Spanish life of mine, and I finally openly admitted to myself that I was a love struck asshole.
We sat and drank our Starbucks lattes. I had barely any money left, so I was forced to get coffee there because they accepted credit cards (a rare thing in the south of Spain). That aside, the lady in the logo on the cup seemed to sneer at me. She laughed at me, and reminded me of my impending return to chain covered New York City. I distracted myself by taking some pictures of love sitting elegantly. Purposely taking my time with every shot. Not because I wanted to take a memorable picture. I did it because I loved staring at her through the lens. I wanted to chisel every curve and line of her face into my head. So I wouldn’t lose her, because a digital picture would never show her how I saw her.
We got up and made our way to the old winding Spanish streets behind the towering Catedral. I had to buy souvenirs for my family. I love my family, but the whole time I kept thinking, “why am I wasting these last moments in these tourist trinket shops?” But she seemed to be enjoying herself, so I played the part. Afterwards, we stepped into an old guitar shop to look at the handmade guitars of a proud Spanish family. Her eyes lit up at the sight of their unique little capos. She picked one out, and I spent most of the money I had left on it. She radiated with joy at the sight of it in her hands. And I radiated with joy at the sight of her.
We walked down the narrow street, back to the open space where the Catedral stood. The sun had set already, and it was getting chilly. We sat down on a bench and I kissed her. Her lips and cheeks cold and colored by soft street lamps. Time was running out. I had to be sensible. I had to be tough. She was tough enough for the both of us, and she told me she really did have mountains of school work to get started on. I said I understood. I stood, carefully hiding my wound. But before we left, I asked a Spanish couple sitting on the next bench over if they could take one last photo of us. We walked over to a spot where the Catedral could be seen behind us, and assumed our positions. I smiled and looked at the man with the camera. But as I did, I saw his girlfriend standing alongside him. I wondered if he knew how lucky he was, that this was not his last day with his love. What I would have given to be on the other side of that lens. Looking at them was too much to bare. So instead, I looked at her. ‘Fuck the picture’ I thought.
The picture was taken, and we walked to the rio. We stopped at the corner, but I couldn’t cross the street to the side where the bridge was. That was where she was going, and I was going the other way. Immediately, a rush of impulsive thoughts crashed together inside of my head. “Fuck England, Fuck London, Fuck Liverpool, Fuck New York, Fuck it all, don’t let her go, stay here, tell her you changed your flight to the day she’s leaving, tell her you’ll book a hostel, no money? Live on the streets if you have to, the streets here are more beautiful than the inside of those rotted hostels anyway, just stay, and for God’s sake just tell her you love her.” “No, be tough, this is just a girl, just one of the many loves you’ll experience, you still have all your mates in England to see, you’ll finally see Liverpool, see where the Beatles came from. Fuck it, she’s just a girl.” I looked at her, she hugged me and kissed me again and again. I said some cheesy sentimental bullshit. But I could never speak my own truth, and I had no time to write it down. So we said goodbye. I watched her cross the street, and she looked back and smiled. I gave her some kind of twisted raise of the eyebrows, and immediately felt angry with myself for doing so. The last goodbye, the last ghost.
She started onto the bridge, and I turned around to head to the airport- shuttle bus stop. Then I felt a searing pain, her soul was pulling apart from mine. Stretching my soul, tearing the lining where we had so hastily stitched them together. Another rush of thoughts rain down like a blitzkrieg. I realized England would always be there. This Sevilla, my Sevilla would not. I realized a few hundred dollars to change a flight would be cheaper then a minimum of a year of wondering ‘what if?’ If I didn’t finish what I started with her, she would become even more than what she was already. She wouldn’t be just another ghost. She’d transform into a goddess, a giant whose presence tramples and destroys all other thoughts. I couldn’t let that happen, it was far too great a price to pay for two weeks of passion.
I turned around and ran across the street. I ran onto the bridge and over the rio I loved so much. I ran as fast as I could. My smoke infested lungs, shocked by this sudden change in routine. I saw her at the end of the street and I ran faster. I tried to slow down as I neared her, but it’s hard to drop so many gears so fast and I crashed into her. “What the hell, what’s wrong Roman?” I looked at her as she picked herself up. She was so beautiful, even with the creases of confusion and anger strewn across her face. I lay on the ground panting, just looking at her, smiling. A mouthful of corny poetic bullshit filled my esophagus like vomit. But I swallowed it down. And the first great rational thought of the night came into my head- “just be in love, don’t bother with your tired words, you’re just a stupid kid, just be with her, just show her, with your eyes, with your hands, with your mouth, with your muscle, with every part that’s real, fuck the words.” I caught my breath and said, “I’m an idiot, I mixed up the departure time of my flight, it took off twenty minutes ago.” I paused and smiled. And for the first time in twenty four hours, my smile wasn’t the sad smile of goodbyes and ghosts. My smile was the product of the chemicals of happiness. I got myself up and asked, “So you need some help climbing those mountains?”