There comes point when a place- a city, a town, a country- transforms from existing merely as a current address to when it becomes a home. Barcelona is home to me now. I don't know when this change took place, but I can pinpoint the moment when I realized it. I was at my family’s house in Miami a few months ago and as time began to drag, I remember thinking to myself, I can’t wait to get home.
And that was that.
Barcelona, in my mind, is now home.
It's the one place on a map that I can point my finger to and say that's where my stuff is, that's where my bed is, its where my current network is to be found. In flight search engines, my local airport is saved as Barcelona and the little flag that comes up next to my name on Skype is the red and yellow banner of Spain. Barcelona is not just where I live anymore. It's a city where the guy at the café on the corner knows what I want before I order it and where the teller at the bank greets me by name. There is nothing scary left about this city- there’s nothing waiting to jump out at me from around the corner and nothing that I have to try for the first time. I have my favorite restaurants, my hairdressers and my own locker at the gym. I know how long it will take to get to almost any point in the city- and I know which bocadillos to stay away from in the school cafeteria. I know my favorite corners in my favorite plazas, where to get the best patatas bravas in the city and who has the cheapest beer. These things don't necessarily make a place a home, but for me- it's the closest I’ve come in a long time.
Unfortunately, my time here is limited and in about two months, I will have to go off into the world again and find myself a new home.
Therefore, I must keep reminding myself to enjoy it while it lasts- and I can only hope that my next home welcomes me as readily as this city did. Barcelona isn’t a bad place to occupy for a couple of years. Its not my ideal- but I’m glad I chose it.
In the beginning of my time here, I established a few lists of my favorite places and features the city has to offer. Now, the lists have changed a bit as I have learned to tailor the city to my own needs and desires. Over a year and an entire MBA degree later...the things I love are not the same- but they are plentiful nonetheless.
-Saturday morning coffee dates on Passeig De Gracia.
-Strolling along Diagonal on beautiful sunny days- reminding me when I’m just about to forget- that Barcelona is pretty cool.
-Falafel runs to Maoz at 3 a.m. on Las Ramblas.
-Discovering the underground, lesser known side of Barcelona’s nightlife with locals.
-Montjuic at night- and the view of Barcelona from Monjuic at night.
-Massimo Dutti. Who knew?
-Terminal 1 at El Prat. I could spend hours there. In fact, I have.
-Window shopping at Rabat on Rosello. Can’t help it. The glare of the jewels gets me everytime.
-The Vueling in-flight magazine, Ling.
-The skyline full of the long white masts of the boats docked at the port.
-Plaça Reial’s palm trees
-I love that I figured out the bus system after all this time- it may have taken me over a year but I finally worked out a route that swings me right by Starbucks.
The biggest changes I find between the beginning and the end are the differences linking what I loved then and what I love now. I suppose this, in effect, is what makes a place a home- as opposed to a temporary visit or an impermanent residence.
The most glaring example of this change is what I saw when I looked up then, as opposed to what I see when I look up now.
When I first got here, I loved the drive to school- glancing up and seeing the curves of Gaudi’s designs and the bright blue of the sky that never seemed to darken. Now, the buildings are old news and the weather proved susceptible to nature’s follies. These days, I love looking up in the middle of class and seeing the faces of my classmates. Whether they’re smiling, deep in thought, deep in gchat conversation, rolling their eyes, or even sleeping (you know who you are…), it is their faces that have been the glue between me and this city- making it my home. It is the faces of these people that make me smile to myself knowing that they are in my life- even if its only for another few months.