winter had settled in on spain in an aggressive way. almost overnight the temperature dropped by 40 degrees fahrenheit, and suddenly walking around outside didn’t seem as enjoyable. the patios of many of the local watering holes began to dry up, where 2 days prior there were throngs of people socializing and drinking outside, they were now packed inside, trying to stay dry and warm. rainclouds would sweep low over the city, in a constant drizzle, ensuring nothing could stay dry, and then brisk winds would rush through the city streets ensuring the damp was felt with a ferocity. the streets glistened and reflected the streetlights above, creating a watery mirrored horizon to the cityscape.
martín and i tried to make the most of his last day in europe, despite the weather. we explored the streets endlessly, in search of nothing more than the mysteries of what might lie beyond the next corner. we had marked a few things out on a map just to provide a little direction for our wanderings, but we largely ignored it, content to just walk and take everything in. one thing i had come to admire martín for was his fearlessness in interacting with locals, specifically when asking for directions or recommendations on where to go or what to eat. up until this point i had spent most of my life refusing to ask for directions or recommendations from other people (whether at home or abroad), but not for the reasons one might assume. the common humor goes in america that a man doesn’t ask for directions because it is a point of pride to never be lost and always know where he is going, and to ask for directions would be to hint that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that would be damaging to his pride. but that’s not really why i never did it. growing up, my parents always “had it together,” and they never wanted to appear that they didn’t have all the answers. always dressed sharply and always knowing what’s going on, this façade contributed to an overall image of “there’s a plan, and we’re sticking to it.” it was keeping up appearances, but if one were to peek behind the curtain, they would see just how chaotic and blindfolded my family really was. we were more lost than everyone else.
i think it’s hundreds of little things like that which add up to a greater dishonesty that led me to reject so much of my life and myself and leave in search of greater truth and authenticity, and so much of this trip, i had begun to discover, was unlearning these poisonous habits. martín stopped to ask a random person in the street where the best hamburger place was in the neighborhood, i tried to stop him because i was so embarrassed. when he had finished talking to the very nice lady who instructed us to walk a couple more blocks and go right to an argentinian burger joint that was magnificent, i asked him Continue reading spain, pt 4. madrid: the tourist and the traveler