After two long months, I found myself at LAX in the security line at Tom Bradley Terminal (which I always think is Tom Brady). A guy behind asked where I was heading to. I looked at my ticket and said London. Well actually Madrid, with a layover in London. He told me he was on his way to Peru, well Buenos Aires for a business class project.
We chatted our way through security and realized our gates were next to one another. We sat down and talked about life briefly. He had his Ph.D and was a professor at UCLA and was currently getting another Masters. We exchanged business cards and tried aligning ourselves with WhatsApp. It wasn’t until we both landed in our destinations that our WhatsApp worked. 9:30pm soon came and he was off to his gate to board his flight. I still had about half hour left. I boarded my flight and sat in the window seat in a two person row. Here we go, 10 hours until I arrive at LHR. I broke down movies into increments of two hours and also tried sleeping on the shelf next to me. We finally arrived in LHR, delayed. I had 30mins to run from the plane to passport control to security than to my gate.
I made it with 5mins to spare, out of breath, I sent my last message and boarded my flight to Madrid. I was starving, jet lagged, nervous and on the brink of a migraine. I flew over mountains with snow and watched the beautiful sun set. I finally arrived, I couldn’t believe I had returned. This time without my class, without my host family. This time felt different. I changed my clothes and applied my face. I felt different. It all felt different and most importantly, I was readynotready to see him.
I caught a cab and I was on my way back to Malasaña. I could feel butterflies in my stomach as we drove on the freeway. Slowly, sporadic buildings turned into small edificios and bright lights were all around us. I clung to my taxi window as I couldn’t help but smile. I was really back. I had finally arrived to the piso. This was it. I couldn’t help but make minimal eye contact with the constant thought of the large scab on my cheek. Nerves got in the way, making me feel as if I was getting to re-know him again.
The next morning, I walked around to all my favorite places, Plaza del Sol, Plaza Mayor. It started to rain and hail as I quickly tried making my way to Primark. I wandered around each floor, trying my hardest not to buy a ton of things. I only needed a towel, but of course I walked out with a bag full of stuff. I walked in the rain back to the piso, which was a few calles behind Primark. We made hamburgers that night after our failed attempt to eat a Goiko Grill the night before. My stomach was just not having it. I hardly ate. But no migraines, this was good.
We drank as we talked about politics, we drank as we walked to the bar. I wanted to be out all night, I wanted to feel alive. Mainly because I’ve hardly been able to go out this semester. With everything going on, all I wanted to do was have some fun and let loose. After two vodkas with red bull and 4:30am later we called it a night. The next day was more laid back with a movie and cafe vibes. To my luck, my throat swelled up during the movie. I now couldn’t swallow or hardly eat/talk. My trip was going great. Due to poor weather and honestly not feeling well, I wasn’t up to go out on my own that night.
The sun finally came out the next day. I walked along side a park trying to find el Teleferico. El Teleferico are cable cars that take you over Madrid Rio and has panoramic views of the city side. I ended up getting a one way which meant I landed in Casa de Campo. Which is fucking huge. I legit thought I was lost again. I kept walking and walking until I could find Lago-Metro stop. I arrived to the piso, to relax my feet from walking so much. The last thing I really needed to see was el Temple de Debod, to catch the sunset. The Temple de Debod is an ancient Egyptian temple that was rebuilt in Madrid. Sunsets are supposed to be breath taking there and usually have a ton of couples hanging around. Due to late sunsets in Madrid and poor weather frankly, we left before I could see the sunset to get some burritos. Burritos I still crave to this day. Worth it.
Towards the end of my trip, I met up with a girl. We had brunch at this cute cafe that had bicycles on the walls and student desk chairs as tables. We chatted over her time in Madrid being an au pair and what she wanted to major in college. She was going into Political Science and we spent the afternoon talking about travel, goals and her Prime Minster Justin Trudeau. I mentioned how badly I wanted to try this nutella crêpes. So we headed over to Nutelleria to get our nutella grub on to only fid out that it was unfortunately closed that day. I was never going to get my Nutella crêpe. I did get a savory crêpe the next day though.
I decided to go cure my pain with some mojitos. I chatted with a guy at a bar, letting him buy me drinks. After the guy left, I finished my last drink and went to go buy some last minute gifts before dinner. I stumbled to Plaza Mayor and wanted to be cartooned. Probably because I was drunk and had a few euros to spend. After realizing I was going to be late for dinner reservation, I hurried back to the piso to head to Goiko Grill. Amazing burgers by the way. Finally checked off the Madrid list thanks to Secretos de Madrid.
My last day was spent saying good bye to Madrid. I wanted to go to Chueca and explore but ended up walking all the way to Salamanca. I sat in Plaza del Colón. I was in awe over the huge Spanish flag, that blew in the wind. I still had a few hours until I had to be in Moncloa to meet with el profe. I walked into a Café & Té, to have some green tea to help with my swollen throat and now sniffles. After relaxing for a bit, I headed to my favorite place, el Faro de Moncloa. The faro is my bliss, for I really enjoy high views of cities. It was 7pm and I stood by the metro stop and waiting for el profe. I was happy to see another familiar face. We sat to grab some wine and talked about how winter session went, my application and why I had returned. For some reason, I always found comfort in my chats with the profe.
To wrap up my last hours I headed to San Gines for churros con chocolate. I was breaking the Spanish rule of not eating them for breakfast. I spent my time eating churros and journalling in my workbook. As I sat there, I felt a shortness of breath, my heart racing and tears starting to form. I was starting to have an anxiety attack. I walked out of San Gines and headed to a dark little plaza, sat down and cried. I let myself cry until I was able to regroup myself. Few days prior to my trip, I had an anxiety attack from all the stress I was under. Days after I couldn’t shake off the feeling of anxiousness and spent each day of trip, hoping not to have an attack in all the wrong moments. Although I had an attack, I felt a lot better. A lot better, well somewhat.
The next morning approached, as it was time to face another goodbye and head to the airport. I had two long flights ahead of me and wouldn’t be getting home until midnight. This time the goodbye was inevitable, much harder than the last. It felt like a real goodbye not a hope to see you soon.
This time felt different, I was exhausted, I was sick. I would stay awake all night to end up falling asleep until noon. All I wanted was to enjoy my time and be happy. As I spent time in Madrid, the more I thought about my decision to come back. I was slowly starting to come down from this Spanish high. I started to realize that I probably wouldn’t be able to handle full Spanish instruction, since I was barely getting back into it. Coming to Madrid for the second time, got in the way of saving up as much as I could, if I ended up coming back in the fall. The more I thought about it, my anticipation turned into fear. I was starting to accept my rejection before it even occurred. I was becoming okay with both returning and not.
I called a taxi and said goodbye to the blue walls again. As we drove away, I looked out the window trying not to feel sad. I watched Madrid become smaller in the distance. As we pulled up to Terminal 4, the driver handed me his business card. He told me that he hoped I got accepted into the program and returned back to Madrid very soon.
I boarded my flight to New York City, this time not looking back. I was okay with saying goodbye. I wanted to say goodbye. I sat in my seat to only realize I would have a whole row to myself. As if the Spanish Gods were trying to ease my sorrow. I felt the wheels running, as the plane took off. This time felt like a goodbye. This time a real goodbye.
Once at home, the email I awaited arrived. With the subject… Congratulations! In awe, I cried. To think I had learned my lesson. That with Madrid, it’s never goodbye. It’s always hasta luego…
5 days until August. 2 7 days until I leave to Madrid.