Thursday, February 5, 2009

Spanish heartache

I should be working right now, because it's the first of the month and as all of us sheltered middle-class people learned from Bone Thugs N Harmony, offices such as mine are quite busy at this time.

But today I feel like spilling from my brain out my fingers onto this pitifully neglected blog. So I'll take a carefully timed, sanctioned 15 minute break and do it!

I was looking over photos from our travelling together on Flickr, something that makes my big red heart ache for the days of having nothing to do but explore new places with a man who is easy to both love and yell at, and I thought I'd revisit that time and write a little bit about it. And post some pictures! Because who doesn't love pictures!

So in the spring of 2007, Brandon and I had been together for nearly a year, I reckon, and were living pretty unhappily in Nashville. We're just not Nashville people, just not cut out for it. We're much happier here, a place that makes lots of middle-aged white people's faces crumple in fear and revulsion. He had some fat cash socked away from photo work he'd done, and I was sitting on a pile of money I'd been granted after my dear, dear father passed away. I had never been anywhere, really; no kind of extended travel, and one reason Brandon had made me all starry-eyed in the first place was the knowledge that he'd been places and done things. So even though it was terribly impractical, which flies in the face of in way I was raised completely, I started quietly planning a trip. I checked out Lonely Planet guides from the library and researched the internets like mad, trying to find volunteer opportunities abroad that aren't simply resume builders for rich-ass college kids (Hand out crayons for two weeks at Panda Kindergarten for only $10,000!). Finally I stumbled upon WWOOF, which is like mommy's miracle from heaven and was perfect. You don't know how bad I wish I'd had the knowledge and the balls to WWOOF earlier in my life.

So there's the background. It is funny to travel with your spiritual/sexual/emotional partner for an extended time like that. As I told him often, you see the best and the worst of that person, and they see the same in you, over and over again for all the time you are away. B saw me crying like a titty baby because my pack was heavy and we couldn't find our hostel in Barcelona, and I dealt with him patiently when he was wasted in Madrid and had to go back to the bar and take a shit.

Here's the bar, by the way; or, rather, the guy who played piano there. It was in the basement of a building, and Brandon called it the "piano cave." We had mucho sangria there. Duh.

It was just perfect, which was how I'd describe most of what we saw of Spain. Barcelona and Madrid were the most beautiful, interesting magical cities that I've ever visited. There is something about the Spanish culture that I just lust after; their daily schedule along is so laid-back and conducive to leisure and pleasure, and who can argue with that?

So, the day after that picture was taken, was probably one of the most overwhelmingly incredible days of my life, so far. We went for a picnic in Parque del Buen Retiro, which was just gorgeous, and then we rented a cute ass little rowboat. And then Brandon proposed, and I said yes! I mean, I wanted to say yes anyway, but how could I resist??

He looks pretty pleased with himself, huh? He had had a ring on loan from his mom stashed away for the entire trip, and brought it along that day, thinking that the time was right. The ring didn't fit on my bigass man hand, but other than that it went down perfectly. And now we both have "Buen Retiro" inscribed in our wedding bands, which means "good retreat."

We knew that bullfights were going on, and had read in some travel guide that although they were most often sold out, you could sometimes buy tickets if you hung out in front of the plaza where they have the fights. Brandon was determined to have the perfect day, so he memorized the Spanish word for tickets and worked his ass off until he happened upon some French girls who had chickened out of seeing the poor bull be stabbed to death. Now, I love animals, and I don't support this kind of thing at all (especially after reading about what exactly goes on during the "fight" on the internet. Did you know they bring out a guy on a horse to stab it with a spear repeatedly before the matador comes out to fight it so that the bull will lose blood? And they do this so that its blood pressure will drop and it won't drop dead from a heart attack from the pure panic and shock of being pursued by the matador? Pretty awful). BUT. We were in Spain, during bull fight season, in maybe the #1 place in the world to see them, and we wanted to experience all we could. So criticize me if you must, honestly, it doesn't make any difference now.

The bullfights were intense as hell, but much like viewing "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," I became pretty immune to the violent act not long after it started. Thinking about it reminds me of the same feeling of disconnect it was easy to have when watching the Twin Towers fall on television -- it seemed like watching a movie. The crowd was immense, as you can see, and matadors who couldn't do a quick, clean kill, got booed by the spectators. There were lots of well-dressed old men smoking huge cigars; Brandon said that it's the only event he's ever been to where the men's room line was twice as long as the women's.

Oh, Madrid.

I guess I am just feeling a bit wistful and I miss that little bit of time that we were free, back there in 2007. Wwoofing and living on a shoestring don't really fit into my "now" plans, but life has a trick of making you wonder if you're doing the right thing or not. I have a lot of faith in our union, though; it seems nearly impossible that we'll fail at being happy no matter where we are or what we're doing. We have each other to keep the whole thing in check.


Chrystal M. Smith said...

How romantic! All of it - even the bull fighting.

Bette said...

Spectacular prose, my dear! You'll be glad many years down that you have this penned reminder.


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