We all have those points in our life where we grow up. I remember in 5th grade when I told my mother that I needed to start wearing a bra, despite the fact you couldn’t tell my front from my back.
I remember my first college class and how I thought I was so old, sitting there and taking studious notes.
And I remember getting on the plane to come to Spain thinking, “I’m so grown up. I’m going to Europe by myself!”
But here I am, five hours away from a taxi that will come and pick me up to take me to the airport, bring me to my departure from this place that has been my home for six months.
I am leaving a city that has driven me insane for six months. A city where people looked at me as though I was an outsider (which I was), a city where men whistled and shouted, “GUAPA” (cutie) at me, a city where the rain poured for three months.
And a city that has brought me to tears more times in the past week than I can count.
I love this place, and not despite the aforementioned items, but rather because of them.
I am in love with this city that allowed me to realize how different I am, and grow into my own skin a little more every day. I am in love with this city, where I’ve learned to shout boldly at old men, leaving behind any passivity my parents believe I have. I am in love with this city where the rain pours and people dance in it and throw their umbrellas into trash cans and allow the rain to soak their perfectly primped hair.
It is a city that flies by the seat its pants. A city after my own heart. A city that runs the way I live.
Here, sometimes stores didn’t open after siesta. Sometimes the siesta lasted all day, and some days the store-owners didn’t take siestas. You never knew.
The quote Seville lives on day-to-day is: no pasa nada. Basically meaning, “it’s fine, no big deal, everything is alright.” I swear a meteor could have struck the center of the city and the Sevillans would still be saying, “Hombre, no pasaaa nadaaaaa.”
And I have lived with a woman that is traditionally and authentic old-school Spanish. A woman who spent her days cooking food for me and sharing her “adages” at dinner about how cold water will give me sore throats and exercising will make my veins turn into constricted balls.
She is a woman that at my age had a husband and two children. A woman that learned to drive a car during Franco’s tight reign, a time when women needed permission from their husbands to spend a night away from the house. A woman that dyes her hair a deep shade of purple, just because it complements her purple clothes well.
So yes, this is the point where you may expect that I share my wealth of knowledge about what I’ve learned this semester and everyone has an “ah-hah” moment.
But, if there’s one thing this city has taught me, it’s that you don’t learn in the moment. You live in the moment and life happens to you.
Then you learn.
So ask me six months, six years from now what I learned and maybe by then I can put it into words.
And if by then I still don’t know, perhaps I’m just going the Spanish route: taking my time, walking slowly, soaking in everything.
I’m growing up, I know that, and it’s a marathon that I’m doing at the pace of 100-yard dash. And so in five hours I will get on a plane with swollen eyes and a heart that’s thrashing against my ribs, knowing that I will revisit this place constantly in my memories, and whoever is unfortunate enough to sit next to me will probably offer me a tissue and ask if I’m okay.
And, in the typical Sevillano way, I’ll probably just respond: no pasa nada.