When we arrived in Malaga, we found the glass enclosed baggage carousel meant for non-EU visitors, which was a sauna. I was dragging by now from exhaustion, but Murphy’s Law had its fun once more when I realized my suitcase was missing. The only good thing was that my Spanish was miraculously pretty intact – at least enough to handle asking for instructions and speaking to the people at the lost luggage department.
Once there, my son and I were shown to our beds, and we took a six hour nap. We awoke around nine in the evening, local time, and headed out to town for dinner. In Spain, dinner or supper is very late. In fact, when we arrived at the restaurant, the foreigners on vacation were having their meals, and around 10:00 pm Spanish families started trickling in with their young children in tow. Next door, at the park, there was a David Sanborn concert we could hear for free as we ate. Around midnight, we finally left the restaurant and decided to go for a walk in the town.
|The view from my room.|
Overall, the first day in Spain was a bit of a whirlwind. Today it has been quieter. My suitcase came, and we went over plans for the trip to Norway. Then my parents’ neighbors came over for coffee -- really nice people from England who live in Almuñecar year-round. And now, I am finally sitting on the terrace with the view of the Mediterranean, where it can sink in that I am truly here. I grew up in Spain, for those of you who don’t know me. This is my genealogical history to pass on, perhaps to my grandchildren one day. I spent six years living in Bilbao, but we always came down to Almuñecar during the summers, or for Christmas. Some of the happiest years of my life were spent here in Spain. I remember my good friends, Mili and Elisa in particular. We were always out playing cops and robbers or some other fantasy game. On the girly side, we had “la goma” which was basically an elastic band tied so that it would hug the hips of two girls while the girl in the middle got to wrap her legs around it in a dance-like fashion – the point was to get unraveled. It is kind of hard to explain, but it took the place of jumping rope and was quite fun. In fact, I brought it with me when I first moved to the United States after ten years abroad.
I should backtrack and say I was born in New Jersey but moved to Italy at a young age, and from there I lived in Spain, then Germany, then Spain again. I remember how hard it was when I came back “home.” I didn’t exactly feel like I fit in too well, and it was also my sixth grade year, which was a hard age to begin with. But I soon adapted to the culture I was born into, although my heart stayed in Spain for several years after I left. Eventually, the memories of the friends I had left behind faded as did the use of the “goma” I had tried to maintain, thanks to two parallel trees in the backyard.
Now when I come back to Spain, it feels somewhat foreign yet familiar… somewhat like home and somewhat like a vacation spot. I belong and I don’t, which is, in essence, the way I have always felt anywhere I have lived.
|The game "La Goma."|