"You have changed my life here in Seville."These words were spoken to me nearly three years ago by a dear blonde-haired, blue-eyed Spanish girl. As far as I can remember, up until that moment, I have not had someone verbalize to me that I have changed their life. What's more is, I don't think I have ever profoundly changed or altered the course of anyone's life by my own words or actions. At least no one has explicitly said that I have. Anyway, when I heard those words I was sitting in the back seat of her parents' car with two other friends. We had just left a going away party that had been thrown in our honor. When I think back on this moment and the words she spoke to me, I realized what struck me the most was that she said them to me in English, my native language. The fact that she did that (whether on purpose or not) made this moment that much more special. Having someone make the effort to get to know you in your native language is a precious, precious thing. I can't explain it.
I didn't know that at that moment in time, a mere week before I was set to leave Spain, that that would be the last time I would see her in person in Spain. Thankfully, though, through our many video chat sessions over the past three years, we would "see" each other again almost weekly. If we (or any of the other friends I made there) had met during any other point in time, the goodbyes we shared in person would truly be the last time we would see each other until our paths physically crossed again. Sure, we could send letters to each other, maybe include photos in those letters but how long would it take for those letters to arrive at their destinations? And what if something new happened right after one of us had sent the other the "latest news"? It's thoughts like these that make me very grateful for the instant and advanced technologies we are so blessed to have today.
Have you ever wanted something so badly you could almost taste it? I tasted salty tears the morning I departed by bus from the most beautiful city in all of Europe: Sevilla, España When the tears dried after I shed them again on the airplane leaving Madrid, the only thing I wanted to taste again was the hearty Spanish cuisine and fellowship. And maybe some churros con chocolate. It probably sounds like I am over-romanticizing my experience living in Spain. I won't deny that I had a love-hate relationship with the country in the beginning, (if you can't believe that check out my study abroad blog) but overall I had a wonderful time there. The desire to return to Spain in the future was something that I was sure of. The problem: How am I going to do it?
Will I ever have this much time on my hands again? Will I ever be this able bodied to travel? Will I ever be this young and unattached? Will I not have the money to come back? These questions have swirled around in my head for months after my trip. I didn't know the answer to any of them (especially the last one) and it scared me. Instead of letting worry and fear overtake me, I decided to focus on the goals before me (college, graduation, finding a job and place to live, making loan payments) and maintaining my friendships both nationally and abroad. Everything would work itself out if I just gave it to God and gave it time.
And you know what? It's finally working out. I am returning to Spain this May for a nice visit with friends. And to see some very important sites that I was not able to see the first time I was there! (El Alhambra y Toledo anyone? haha) What's more is this: I will be traveling to and from Spain by myself but I won't be the only Willats going over there. This time, my brother Nathan will be there too! He is doing a two week study abroad program in and around Madrid with his university. But, he will be spending an extra week in Spain to visit me in Sevilla! It's all that I could ask for in a return trip and more. I imagined going back by myself in the past couple years after graduation but I never thought a family member, a very close one at that, would be able to join me! :-) In my mind I am already there seeing the familiar sights and hanging out with wonderful people. Now when we both are in Sevilla, my brother will get to step inside my head and see the city through my eyes. I'll point out my favorite sights, buildings and statues but I will also get to add some running commentary. We will literally be taking a walk down [my] memory lane and I couldn't be more thrilled.
I hope you are ready to fill your nostrils with the smell of orange blossoms, your stomach with lots of delicious Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine, your ears with the ultra-smooth sounds of the Spanish guitar and your eyes with some of the most captivating Moorish architecture in Spain, Nathan! And not to mention, you will be privileged enough to daily hear the best language in the world: el castellano! :)
Come quickly May!