Random Observation/Comment #207: Christian is a gentleman and a scholar – or in more colloquial terms – he’s freakin’ awesome. Not only did he act as a tour guide and “couchsurfing-type” host for a week, but he also reminded me of something very important: a summer is not a summer vacation without friends. Yes, I’ve met quite a few random people during my travels of whom I refer to as friends, but it’s not the same. My stay in Denia made me miss my best friends back home and cringe at the fact that I missed another summer that I could have spent growing closer with them. Seeing Christian and his friends reunited in random clubs and local drinking areas was inspiring and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling of community. As with all observations, I compare it with my life. I’ve realized that I’ve been doing the opposite of what I’ve always wanted – to hopefully be missed and to feel at home somewhere. Of course, this process of growing my contacts around the world is quite important and I really needed this experience to clearly discern my feelings about the matter. This phase of adventures in Europe has been envied by most, but I think they fail to realize the fun within their own country provided by the close friends that make life worth living. It’s not always the history, club scene, night life, or number of museums in your neighborhood – it’s about the interesting people you already know and have the potential to meet. These 6 months of networking have been exhausting, but I’ve developed many new ideas and improved communication skills. If not just to open my eyes to an outside perspective of the US, it has been worth every penny. This is the worldly knowledge that pushes me closer to maturity.
Christian’s countless acts of kindness made me grateful beyond belief. Although we only shared one class at Cooper during my master’s course, we met up in the middle of Spain for a full week. He picked me up from the station by car and welcomed me into his summer house in Denia and apartment in Valencia. The large family of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews (some applying multiple times) created a lively, warm, and fun-loving house. During the night (or what locals here consider the beginning of the night at 2AM) I was deemed “el Chico Americano” by his friends and spoken to by those who wanted to practice their English (or those drunk enough to tolerate my broken Spanish). The club scenes were legendary to every extent of the word. The club Hacienda was actually a favorite of his brothers’ and parents’ since 40 years ago. Generations of party-ers grew up here jumping walls and stealing shrimps from crazy restaurant owners – I, of course, did my samples of the tradition.
I was welcomed in his house with home-cooked meals and all outside events. Understanding my desire to capture some pictures of scenery, we went up some castles and made a valid attempt to climb the mountain (and we would have done it if we weren’t so drunk and tired). There were even times when I went solo with these new friends without Christian and randomly found my way back to his house at 8AM.
What I’m trying to express is not just the crazy partying and unyielding schedule of this city, but also the friendliness and openness of this summer group. It was incredibly liberating to finally escape. I didn’t feel trapped by work or obligations, but simply ate, siesta’d, beach’d, and fiesta’d only to sleep and repeat the cycle a few more days. In no way could this be enjoyed for more than a week, but it’s definitely a week to look forward to starting from September. The sleeping and eating pattern took some time to adjust to (wake at 1PM, lunch at 3PM, 4PM siesta, 6PM beach, 9PM pool, 10PM dinner, 12AM pregame, 2AM first club, 5AM second club, 7AM sunrise at restaurant, 8AM sleep), but I felt like I just took vacation to the next level of fun (and exhaustion).
By the end of my stay in Denia, I had only washed half my clothes even though I made a pitifully easy to-do list. Even the haircut activity took 5 days before it was completed. Essentials like charging my camera and moving over pictures to my laptop seemed to follow the same procrastination trend. Oddly, without the Internet and the pressure, I found relaxation.
I wish I could have done more to repay this family. My enthusiasm in food made it natural to cook a meal for them. Although it was mostly experimental, I hoped they liked it (I snuck out and left for Valencia before it was finished so I couldn’t see their reactions). It was the least I could do after trying home cooked paella, eggplant, stuffed zucchini, baked chicken with potatoes, Spanish pizza, and much much more. Their cooking made me miss my mother’s and my aunts’, and this large family experience makes me look forward to my next family and friend reunion. Even the little cousins grew to like my presence (well, I took trying to drown me in the pool and always asking to play with my iPhone as growing to like me). I guess it would take me a while to stop wondering what was wrong with the shape of my eyes too.
With the support of a wonderful family and a brilliant mind on his shoulders, I have no doubt that Christian will do well. I can’t guarantee as many beautiful Spanish girls in my group back in NY, but he’s always welcome to chill. Mi casa es tu casa. Salud.
~See Lemons Agradecido