As we pack our bags to leave Spain this week, I’m aware of so many things we’ll miss!
Oh, how I’ll miss the oranges–and the cherries, and the donut peaches, and the grown-for-flavor-not-looks local tomatoes, and all of the other great, inexpensive produce. I have never yet been able to spend 10 euro at the fruteria because I can’t carry that much food home. Such a nice problem to have.
I will miss leaning out of our big windows–look, no screens! No need for screens! This has been an unexpected pleasure. And what better reason to lean out than to bask in the spectacular evening displays of another Mediterranean sunset?
In addition to amazing color provided by nature, we’ve seen so many fireworks that I’ve completely lost count. I no longer puzzle over what they might be for–it is enough that we’re in Valencia, and someone is excited about something. Sometimes when I’m awakened by the percussive burst of another show, I stagger over to the window to look, steadying myself on the windowsill to help me stay upright. I think I did this twice the other night. I’m guessing it was either Solstice or something to do with the World Cup. And even as I write, wouldn’t you know it, they’ve started again. A coincidence, but not a really remarkable one. It seems like something explodes nearly every day.
Out of these big windows we can see a tall building several kilometers away that Loquita has christened “Evil Nocturnal Snail.” It’s an office building which has a taller section on one side, where two red lights go on at nightfall. These are the evil eyes, appearing as if on snail eyestalks. Lower down there are lights that look like a crooked mouth. Most people would question each part of the name Loquita has bestowed, but she knows better. It has become like a friend on the skyline, inasmuch as one is able to befriend something that appears evil, nocturnal, or snail-like, and which is actually an office building.
I will miss the breeze. Even when it’s gotten warmer than is strictly comfortable (only once in a while, and only quite recently), there is often a delicious breeze. On that breeze I can sometimes taste the fragrance of flowers.
I will miss being able to walk or peddle everywhere I need to go (we did eventually find the one way to put a bike in the elevator that didn’t require a “vertical presentation”). Certainly there are lots of interesting places we could have gone had we had a car. It’s also true that if we had had the option, we would have driven on some of our errands and outings. But it’s been both valuable exercise physically, and a valuable exercise conceptually, to plan and carry out our days under our own steam. At least traveling horizontally. I admit that I have used the elevator to get to the 13th floor most of the time. El Guapo has been a great one for taking the stairs, and his cardiovascular health has improved apace. He’s an inspiration to me in more ways than one.
I’ll miss being able to walk and ride, but I’ll also miss so many of the places we’ve walked and ridden. El Jardín del Turia, a long park that traverses the city, has been a favorite place for both. El Jardín Real is a beauty–when Limonada was visiting she declared, in her unique way, that it was disgusting how photogenic the Jardín was. I’ll miss the narrow streets of the old city with the huge doors, the window boxes, the bell towers.
I will miss hearing Spanish spoken all around me. I will miss having the woman in the produce department call me “Cariño” when I ask her a question.
I will miss walking on the beach. I will miss the amazingly soft sand (though I won’t miss it on the floors and in the sheets), and the seashells, and the sunset. What I will miss most, I think, is the possibility of it. Of being able to say, “shall we ride to the beach this evening?”
I will miss people–my dear friend Susan, and the fun people at Berklee Valencia. I will miss our new friends at church. Yes, it takes an amazingly long time to get across a room when you need to have two cheek kisses with everyone, but they have warmly welcomed us, helped and served us, and accepted our offerings in return. Wherever our family has traveled throughout the world, be it Kiel, Santiago, Sidney, Dublin, Florence, Quebec or Valencia, walking into a Sunday service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means walking into a family. They will greet you with a smile, help you dry your sodden tent and sleeping bags, take you home for lunch, lend you blankets, find you a wrench to fix your bike (if these all sound like real events, there’s a reason for that).
The getting-ready-to-leave is always a hard stage–surrounded by what I’m leaving, feeling the poignancy of impending loss. I shy away from saying goodbye; much better something like the leave-taking we hear most often: “hasta luego.” Valencians say it with a very particular compressed pronunciation and a characteristic cadence. It’s now lodged firmly in my ear. I have great hopes that this “until later” is what turns out to be true. Hasta luego, Valencia!