Saturday, August 25, 2007


Today I got to spend the day with a friend of mine from when I lived in Spain. She is in the military and was recently moved to the DC area, which is near where I am spending my vacation with my goddaughter and her parents. We started planning a couple weeks ago and as I anticipated our visit, I was flooded with memories from our days in Spain. She and I met my first night in Spain. She lived with my Senora's sister in an apartment complex caddy-corner to mine. We generally walked to and from school together (usually twice a day) and then spent most of our nights out or our weekend travel times together in those five months. She and I would talk and talk as we wandered through the haphazardly designed streets of Granada and we grew quite close. I suppose I didn't realize just how close until today. I haven't seen R in almost 5 years; our last reunion was about 6 months after we left Spain when I was in Chicago for a conference. Today, almost instantly, she was familiar, not just old friend "yeah-we-know-each-other" familiar, but comfy old sweatshirt familiar. Her mannerisms, dialect, and tastes are much the same. I could expect various responses or interests or inclinations as the day went by and it was such a welcome feeling.

R is amazingly easy to talk with and she freely shared stories (within the bounds of her rules of confidentiality and disclosure) from her time in the military over the last 4 years. We talked about moments in Spain and caught up on family, relationships, and everyday things. She and I left the house after breakfast and headed toward Mt. Vernon and I listened intently as she recounted stories of her continued travels...all until I bothered to recheck the map and found that we had missed a turn somewhere and were not where we needed to be. Now, in understanding the dynamic between R and me, you must know that we got lost on countless occasions while living in Spain. On our first night, after dinner, my Senora suggested we walk to our morning meeting spot so we would be familiar with the route. We gladly agreed and set out together with a map of Granada. Once we arrived at the Plaza Isabel, we figured we knew our way to school, so I suggested we take a different route back to familiarize ourselves with the city. So we began winding through the cobblestone streets in what seemed like the general direction of our apartments. However, we soon realized, Granada is not laid out in a grid format, the design of the streets is much more akin to spaghetti thrown on the table and turned into a city street system. There were no parallels or perpendiculars to guide our path home, only guesses and regular looks at the map until we arrived home, nearly an hour later than we should have.

Unfortunately, that first night there was only a forshadowing of what was to come. Over the next two weeks, we were lost repeatedly, the worst of which was one night when we wandered for 2.5 hours in order to arrive home. Now, I was not going to be overly stressed about being lost, so instead I would laugh hysterically at our mishaps, a fact which only served to aggravate R further as we sought to find our way home. So, now, 6.5 years later, when placed together, our generally well-guided internal compasses go haywire and we inevitably ended up lost. On the way to Mt. Vernon, we took the wrong turn, as I indicated, but easily found our way back to the roads we need to be on, a detour of maybe only 10 minutes. But on the way back, boy did we relive our glory days. A wrong turn here, a confusing map there, a wrong U-turn, again, a stop for directions, another U-turn and much laughter, some frustration, and some 35 minutes later, we were on our way home.

I wish I had digital pictures from our days in Spain, it would make it much more fun and interesting to share more stories with you all. We tried local cuisine, struggled with our Senoras, traveled near and far, met countless strange men along our paths, and enjoyed the life of study abroad during those days. I am grateful for R, not just who she is, but what she has offered to my life along the way, and even more for the way her easy-going presence draws me into amazing memories!

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