I woke up from a dream of Granada this morning. Maybe the birds singing out my window reminded me of how, on a day like this, when I lived in the Spanish city, my best friend Jon and I would sit in the Paseo de los Tristes and sip our cafes con leche, listen to the River Darro, and watch the light play on the hillside, the houses leaning over the river, the cobblestones:
We would invent a life story of the busker, whose dog, so obedient and comically sad, sat by his side, perhaps daydreaming of a better time:
Then Jon and I would walk for hours through the city, through twisty-turns streets of the Albaicin:
Calle Zafra, where I lived
At some point in the afternoon, we would part ways to go teach English to the children of wealthier Granadinos. Then I would come back to my flat in the Albacyn and rest, listen to the radio, or just sit on the balcony and look out at the Alhambra:
At night, we would gather friends and go out for tapas, for more drinks, to dance or listen to music. And we spent two years doing this, sipping coffee and chatting, soaking in the culture and learning a language. At twenty-five I was thrilled to be doing something “irresponsible” for the first time in my life. To be doing something that wasn’t meant to achieve anything or further a career in anyway. To be doing something that just felt so good and inspiring.
Ironically, my experience in Spain helped form the foundation of what was to become my career in educational publishing. I still marvel at that sometimes. It’s really true, that when you follow you heart and do what feels right on a soul level, things really do fall into place. Not every time, I guess. But sometimes.
I also believe that you don’t need to drop everything and move to a foreign country to live an inspired life, a kind of life that I like to think of as just, “Spain in the spring time.” It’s harder with the day-to-day grind, the scary doctor appointments, the stack of laundry to fold. But it can be done, at any moment. The wisteria blooms and our hearts are ours to open. At any moment. No matter what.
I’m going to listen to music that reminds me of Granada today. I’ll use chores like flex-spending reports and laundry to distract me from thoughts of the appointment that looms. And I’ll try to find the “Spain in the spring time” that surrounds me. And has, for all these years. Whether I see it or not.