I’m Really Going


Well, it’s almost here.  My big trip.  The one I am giving myself for that 40th birthday celebration I keep extending.

I’m off to Madrid for a week!

I can’t even believe it.

Here’s the thing:  Madrid has a special, special place in my heart.  I studied there for a semester in college and fell in love with it.

Like many others who studied abroad will tell you, I think this may have been the best time I ever had (except, of course, for meeting my husband — and having my kids — and whatever else would cause someone to be offended by omission).  I went with four other classmates and we were together all the time.  Not only because we liked each other and needed all five brains to form a Spanish paragraph, but because we shared the smallest apartment in the history of the world.  And I stand by that statement after living in New York City for 16 years.

It was a crazy and lovely time.  We learned to speak Spanish (mostly).  We attended class from time to time.  We traveled around Europe with backpacks as long as our bodies, sleeping on train station floors and staying in highly questionable youth hostels.  We wreaked havoc on various foreign cities.  The world seemed to be quite literally at our feet.

But above all, we had a love affair with Spain.

It’s a place that has just stuck with me, and I’ve been wanting to go back for 19 years.  But it never happened, for various reasons.  There were other places to go that I’d never seen before.  There were logistics.  And kids.  And work.  And bills.  And life.

But now, I’m going.  With one of my best friends, Rebecca, who was in that original study abroad group with me.

Here we are, amidst our 1993 European escapades.  Apparently, we thought that a mere scarf would make us look less American and more fashionable when standing outside the Roman Colosseum.


This time we’ll try not to look like unfashionable twins.  And we’ll shower more than we did the last time.

We’re also meeting up with two of our native Madrid friends who showed us the ropes of their great city back then.  I’ve kept in touch with them sporadically via Facebook, Twitter and {thank God} Google Translation.  So it will be fabulous to see them all these years later.

And then we will see another one of the original Study Abroad Five {aka “Somos cinco“}, who now lives in Zurich.

And my husband will come over for part of the week too.

And our good friends from Boston.

It’s a pop-up birthday party in Spain.  I feel so, so lucky.

It’s hard to know what it will be like to go back.  What I mean is that obviously it’s different to visit a place than to live in it, to know it day in and day out.  When we studied lived there, we had our daily routine, a way of life dictated by attending school.  {By “attending school,” I mean planning the next excursion over cafe con leche and churros when we should have been in class.}

But a seven-day visit, almost 20 years later, is surely going to be much more touristy in nature.  Just the highlights.  Although we will likely be found with cafe con leche and churros pretty frequently again.

In my mind’s eye, I remember how magnificent Madrid is.  Very chic and yet very traditional. I remember the Spanish sky.  I remember the food.  The coffee.  The people.  The wine.  The cheese.

I’m going.  Holy shit, I’m going.

Yes, I’ve built it all up in my head from nostalgia overload, though I highly doubt Madrid could disappoint me.

And of course, we all know that Spain is experiencing some serious economic issues right now, which is very unfortunate.  However, I am taking it as my personal challenge and responsibility to jump-start the economy through seven days of wine and cheese consumption.  Possibly with a side of shoes.  I can do it.  I know I can.  Rebecca will also be contributing substantially.

Then there is the issue of language.  My Spanish is rusty, to say the least.  I was once nearly fluent.  Now I can get by.  Kind of.  My husband does not believe me — he thinks I’m being modest.  So let’s just say he’s in for quite the surprise when I can only manage to order us a taco or direct him to the bathroom.

But, thankfully, I have been watching enough Dora and Diego with my kids to get some key Spanish skills back, though the topics at hand are somewhat limited.  For instance, I can basically name all jungle animals, which will help if I see an urban tiger roaming the streets of Madrid.  And I can also name a few landmarks, Dora-style {“Lake, cave, murky mud puddle — say it with me!”} in Spanish.  But also wine.  And cheese.  And, “Excuse me, how much for those stunning leather shoes that will look terribly out of place at pre-school drop-off?”

But I’m going.

I’ve been conditioning myself to leave my kids for a full week.  And they’ve had enough behavioral episodes recently that I feel pretty good about bidding them adios for seven days.  Of course I’ll miss them, though.

But I’m going.  My SPF 5,000,000 is packed.

I have visions of urban roaming with no real agenda.  Just some wandering, some wine, some food.  Taking it all in.  Relishing a very different place for a week.  Embracing a break from the daily grind.  Remembering a nearly perfect time in my life and being grateful to revisit it with my husband and good friends.

I doubt I’ll do a blog post while I’m there, mostly because my hands will be too sticky from the churros to type.  But, fear not, my international data plan is purchased.  So if you want to follow along, I will definitely be posting photos on Instagram and Facebook.  They will probably include various shots of cheese, and perhaps Rebecca and I revisiting our favorite spots.  And my husband’s confused face when I’ve directed him to the wrong restroom, as he finally realizes that my Spanish is que horrible after all these years.

But I’m going!

This turning 40 gig may not be so bad after all.

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  1. Anna says:

    Have so much fun!!! Sounds amazing!

  2. That is so awesome! My sister studied in Grenada and I was lucky enough to visit. I hope to go back someday…my Hubs has never been outside of the US or Mexico, so someday…I hope.

    Have a great time!

  3. Anna says:

    Oh that’s so 40-fabulous of you! I did the traveling with backpacks too, and I forgot about never showering. But we really didn’t. Here’s to Eurpope and staying places you’re willing to use the shower, see life really does get better!

  4. Erica says:

    How exciting! I am so happy for you!! Be sure to check out the beautiful parks & gardens there: Retiro Park, Campo del Moro Park, Sabatini Gardens, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Casa de Campo Park. Have a beautiful trip and enjoy! : )

  5. Annabelle says:

    That sounds fantastic! I hope you have a great time.

  6. Jen says:

    Sp sad I’m not with you guys again…not that I could’ve come with the move. Please eat a jamon y queso for me. Funny how I can still speak food in Spanish.

  7. Meredith says:

    So, so jealous–go rock it out and be fabulous! 🙂

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