Spain is my Home
It's usually around 7:00 when it starts to hurt. Something about the sun beginning to set and the orange film beginning to settle like salt in a glass. The sky gets low and grey, the soft roily grey just before approaching twilight. I know that in a few weeks when my life resumes and the memories start to fade, I will be very sad. This experience has been completely surreal. I have been moved by the Pintxos and the Tapas, touched by the Flamenco, flattered by the Spanish guitar. The idea of leaving has become so foreign; I even bought a painting from a restaurant last night. Spain is my home now.
I live outside the city of Almeria, in a tiny beach town on a once neglected stretch of coast. My apartment sits atop the Mediterranean, and the sea so often looks sapphire and cerulean; I pinch myself to make sure I'm still alive. I take the bus to school in the mornings and the ride is peaceful. I am at peace. The daylight gets stronger as the drive meanders through neighborhoods with white houses, where sunshine floats through flowers dancing over the doors and the gates and the window sills, the way lace and silk compliment the most exquisite gowns. It's different here than California. There even our moments of leisure tend to be busy and mindless. But here I am reminded of how beautiful the world really is, how the best way to get anywhere is simply, letting go of trying to get anywhere at all.
When I arrive at school, my students greet me with gaping smiles, hugs, and high-fives, buzzing until the first period bell. The Primary School is small and colorful, with peace posters lining the hallways, flamingos and food chains glued to the walls, and a tight faculty nestled around the cappuccino machine. I teach about Halloween, solar energy, gerunds and phrasal verbs. I work with mostly the eleven and twelve year-olds, the older ones who seem just as gangly and aloof as I remember being at their age. The swirl of hormones and the diffidence stamp their adolescence. With them, language has become irrelevant. My Spanish is just as limited as their English, so we speak mostly with made up words. Our relationships aren't about explanations and deconstructions; the important things are never about that.
When we finish class, we talk about what makes us individuals. I share pieces of my family, my friends, my home, vignettes that have become sacred to me. I take groups of four or five or six and ask them their fears, their goals, their desires. We sit in circles, and it is here where I mark my most defining moments of success. I tell them that you can know everything about the universe but not know anything about yourself. I tell them to keep reaching and searching, that one day they'll find their nirvana. "Dream big," I say. "It's free. It's free! Dreaming is free."