Spain is a host mother who greeted me at the doorway of her humble home with open arms and plump besos. She was a retired nurse, but the fight hadn’t left her–she was fierce and strong. She cut off the ends of her words as she spoke with ferocity. She made meals fit for kings and listened to the crackling radio before she fell asleep. She said Zapatero, the Prime Minister of Spain, looks like Mr. Bean. She was a die-hard Real Betis fan. She called me guapa and hija.
Spain is a professor. He was a lanky man with dark rimmed glasses who taught politics at the University of Madrid. He began the morning lecture with, “Sorry guys, I’m still hung over…” He referred to Franco as a “bad motherfucker” and scribbled words and diagrams on the board in fury. He turned out to be one of the most brilliant and passionate educators I have ever had.
Spain is a Spanish teacher. She was a world traveler, really. She had curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She spoke more than 3 languages with fluency and had lived all across the globe. We shared the same lack of concrete cultural identity. And she told me, “Forget citizenships and passports. Identity comes from within, and the world is your home.“
Spain is the local convenience store owner who always waved hello to me on my walk to school. The old ladies at the local diner who told me stories of growing up under a dictatorship. The horse carriage drivers who blew kisses, and the restaurant owners who treated us with shots de gratis.
This is but a glimpse of a country full of pride, humility, and a fiery passion for life itself. And to experience but a taste has left my heart hungry for more..