Do you remember that song about the minutes and moments and movements used to measure time? The one nobody except choir nerds knows the the words to aside from the actual "five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes" that comes at the end? (By the way I had to take some serious time to think out how to spell that number). But anyway, I never really fully understood that song. Time is time, it passes. My most recent semester at WVU was measured mostly by cups of coffee, library schedules and tables waited on at work. And let's not forget the horrible awful terrible mess it was to get into this freakin' Spain program. But my point is this: here, time passes differently. Life isn't measured by hours in a day, instead I tell time by my morning cafe con leche with a tostada covered in crema de tomate. I tell time by my the warmth of the sun on my face when it finally escapes from behind the clouds for those beautifully warm hours of unadulterated daylight. I tell time by my absolutely wonderful flatmates knocking on my door telling me it's time to wake up and have dinner (whose real time is about 9 or 10pm for those of you who don't know - these people are like energizer bunnies I swear they function without sleep). I tell time by how many glasses of sangria I've had while talking with friends at the bar. I tell time by the songs that we dance to in the club, laughing at the fact that Pitbull is everywhere and we cannot escape his featured raps in songs that would otherwise be terrific. I tell time by the number of people who are out and about so late at night, everyone from high school kids to the most precious little old couples has their own place whether it be at a tapas bar or a little cafe or on the steps of the Facultad de Letras.
It is not to say that I didn't have all these beautiful things and people in my life before I got here. Truly, I have the most wonderful family I could ever even begin to ask for and I honestly don't know what I did to have been so lucky. Laughing with my sisters, butting heads with my dad, being silly with my mom, astoundingly supportive and loving grandparents, all of it is such a blessing. I could not imagine my life without them and I hope to God I'll never have to. But at home.. at school... life is crazy. Truly. My family is known by everyone we know as the ones who always have somewhere to be or something to do. Always. At school, I take almost the limit of allowed credit hours and I work 30 hours a week and occasionally am lucky enough to see my best friends like every fifth weekend. I can't slow down because life won't wait for me to catch up. So while I get to enjoy my time with the people I adore in the places I love, I do not get to fully appreciate them for who they are and what they do for me, because there is always something else going on that I ALSO have to focus on (I know it doesn't look like I can handle more than walking and breathing at the same time but you'd be surprised; sometimes I can even chew gum while I do all that). But this isn't fair to them. To my family, to my friends, or even to myself. In many ways I think I live my life like I prepare my plate for Christmas dinner: I get a little bit of everything, a lot of some things, and then a few little extras just in case I run out. And then I get full. And also fat, but that's a story for another time.
My point is, Spain has given me a chance to really appreciate the world around me. I mean sure, it's a hell of a lot easier to appreciate the world around you when you're in one of the most beautiful places you've ever been and all you have to do is sit there and try to look pretty until classes start, BUT, I swear this semester is going to be different. I don't look at my watch because I'm running late, I look at it because I want to see how long I've been having a great time with my friends. I don't walk quickly because I'm late for something, I do it because I'm so excited to get wherever it is I'm going. I don't care which street I choose to get into the city center because I would so much rather wander and find new things to see than I would find one path and stick to it because it's easy and faster. I don't check my phone because first off I don't have service but even if I did there is so much to take in it's absolutely unbelievable, I even avoid blinking for fear of missing something. There is a saying that one of the professors here taught us: Trabajamos para vivir, no vivimos para trabajar. It means "we work to live, we do not live to work." The people here epitomize this saying. Everything is closed on Sunday not because of religious reasons or laziness or what have you, but because the Spanish are not allowed to have more than a 40 hour work week, and Sunday is a day of relaxation. Did you read that? If not go back and look. THEY HAVE A DAY SET ASIDE FOR RELAXATION. AMERICA, WE'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Time does not pass in Murcia like it does elsewhere. I fall more and more in love with the beautiful Mediterranean architecture and style every day, and even more so with the people who welcome you like an old friend even if you've just met and who are more than happy to help with anything you could possibly need. Every single time I walk by my campus, I can't help but think how lucky I am to be here. I live here. I have to repeat it to myself over and over again and sometimes I still can't believe it. But I think living here.. It will undoubtedly change me. I will not be the same person when I leave. I'm sure there will be good and bad, as with everything else in life, but if nothing else, I hope to take this new found perspective on life with me as I move on through the milestones of my life.
I have loved and learned a lot in my 20 years. I know that it may not seem like much, but it's been quite a time, let me tell you. I know I will love and learn even more as these years continue, but I'll get there when I get there. My life is truly unbelievable. It almost leaves me breathless to think about how blessed I am. At this point I just want to soak up everything I can about this atmosphere and way of life and appreciate everything how it is now, because soon my semester starts, and while I know it will be different, it's still school, and I have issues.
Please, if you get nothing else out of my relentless babbling, please just take a moment.. A minute, an hour, whatever you like, but just... Stop and smell the damn roses. Because they're more beautiful than you can ever imagine, and Heaven help the person who misses out on the opportunity to appreciate their beauty while they can. Tell your sisters you love them. Tell your dad you get your stubbornness from him. Tell your mom you're actually pretty pumped you'll look like her in 20 years. And tell your best friends, you know, the ones that couldn't get rid of you even if you tried, that they should come over and have some sangria, cause who doesn't love sangria, right?
OH, because I can't not mention it, the word of the day is actually a phrase: La cama que tanto amo. More or less, it means "the bed that I love so much." So this thing is a twin, right? A freakin' twin sized bed. And it is absolutely freezing here at night (at least in my room - and there's the added fact that I'm a total wus (Yas has a word for people who are prone to being cold which I can't currently recall but if I remember it I'll let you know - OH, it's friolera). And yet, despite the previously stated facts, I love this damn bed. I love my authentic Spanish siestas. I love that I can stand on this piece of crap and climb out onto the terrace. This thing is great, and I don't mean to toot my own horn but I'm pretty sure it loves me too. Anyway, this has been my favorite phrase as of late for when my exceptionally lazy behind refuses to get out of bed, and I think I'm gonna run with it. Or.. lay in bed with it, if you will.
Sorry for all the mushy crap to anyone who actually read this all the way through (you poor soul), it was a long night. Next time, I promise I'll talk lots about my orientations and "making friends" and how the whole only speaking Spanish thing is going and the living like a big kid in a real person apartment with an actual kitchen part and whatever else happens to pop into my itty bitty little brain.
Hasta la proxima vez!
I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.