Friday, March 04, 2011

"I've loved these days"

This is the blog entry that I have dreaded writing. Not because anything bad happened in Madrid, but rather because so many wonderful things happened in Madrid that I didn't want to come home. Which should come as a surprise to no one at all; I never want to come home from Spain. But after my first-rate time in Barcelona and a far too brief visit in Valladolid, the time had come to say hello to Madrid and good bye to Spain. 

For the first time during this journey, I found myself lodging in a hotel, the Hotel Osuna to be exact. It's quiet the eclectic little place in the outskirts of the city. The building I stayed in is a fairly standard three-story affair with comfortable, clean rooms, much like a Marriott here in the States. The only complaint I had about it was that the heat was set too high - so high that my face cream melted in the bathroom. Became a pure liquid mixture of coconut oil and shea butter. I had to refrigerate it in order to be able to use it. I'd much rather have a room that was too warm than one that was too cold. The rest of the facility is composed of cottages. I've never ventured into one, but from the outside, they do not appear to be inviting, modern, or comfortable in any way. They look more like overgrown beach cabanas - a fine place to put on a bathing suit, but not someplace to spend four nights. 

This is a photo of the path that runs between the cabins. 
The building I stayed in is in the background of the photo.

Why am I so obsessed with taking photos of my coffee and toast? 
This is an extra special breakfast because 1- It was at the Cafe de Oriente, one of Madrid's more famous/infamous establishments. 2- It was across the plaza from El Palacio Real, The Royal Palace.
3- The person who joined Leticia and I for breakfast works in the Palace and has seen the King of Spain up close. It's kinda cool to know someone who has seen the King.
4- He, my friend, not the king, treated us to breakfast.

I mentioned being diagnosed with a terminal case of "Spainmania" in my last blog. 
The fact that I take photos of traffic jams and parked motorcycles proves my friend's point.
But isn't the architecture beautiful? The curved building? The statue of friends embracing?
The bright sky above? What's not to love?

Sitting at a communal table at Le Pain Quotidien for lunch. 
Looking at the people surrounding me,  I was reminded yet again:

Several friends have asked how the weather was when I was in Spain. 
For three days it was cold enough for me to wear jeans. 
Yes, friends, I wore jeans - specially purchased for the trip! 
Four other days, I needed to wear leggings under my skirts. 
And three or four days required the use of an umbrella. 
But I was in Spain! So let the cold rains fall. Let the strong winds blow.
I was as happy as a pig in... Spain!!!

That little fellow in the snowsuit was the main reason for my trip to Spain this month. 
He was born in November - and I absolutely HAD to see him before he got too big. 
His mother is holding him. His grandmother is to their right. 
I love them all like my own family. 
Let me not tell a lie; I count them as part of my extended family.

Holding hands with the newest member of my harem... Jaime.
Yes, I was lying on the floor next to his bouncy seat,
 holding his hand while showing him a card with the picture of a duck on it.

Across the room, there was a whole lotta napping and websurfing going on.
I snuggled up next to the wee one and whispered sweet nothings into his perfect little ears.
In the words of that eminent 20th Century philosopher: "Say hello to my little friend."

Jaime's older brother hiding behind his freshly-squeezed orange juice.
To the right are the hands of Leticia, his mother for four years and my friend for nearly 20 years.
Behind the olive oil bottle is the man who stole her heart.
On the day of my departure, we enjoyed breakfast at Sita before she drove me to the airport.

I'm one of those passengers that pulls out cleansing wipes to clean the tray table, the arm rests, and the window next to me. Then I pull out my journals and pens and snacks and position it all for take off.
If I've gotta be in one place for 10+ hours, I may as well be comfortable, right???
Fortuntely, I didn't have anyone next to me.

My friends don't know this, but on the last night of every visit I make to Spain, I want to spend some time in the center of Madrid. And on the last day of every visit I make to Spain, I feel nervous and guilty about asking my friends to take a drive thru the center of the city, so I don't ask. Amazingly, on the last night of nearly every visit I make to Spain, one friend of mine or another ends up driving me through the heart of the city that I love most in the world. This time, I was out to dinner with my first and only Spanish boyfriend, his wife, and their beautiful daughter. After dinner as they drove me back to my friend Leticia's house, we ended up on La Gran Vía, one of Madrid's main avenues, and I smiled gratefully in the darkness next to Irene's car seat. As my flight from Madrid to Dallas lifted off the tarmac of Barajas Airport, I took one final look towards the skyline of that magnificent city and I smiled in the bright sunlight of that last day.

As I looked out the window, camera in hand, remembering those last days in Madrid,
I imagined the final scene of a movie, a love story, of course. The scene where the lovers bid their final farewell to each other, tears flowing, hands raised in one last wave. 
The song that always plays in my head is Billy Joel's old tune: 
"I've Loved These Days."

Don't bother to look up the lyrics; they make no sense in this context. In my fantasy movie scene and in my real life walk through Terminal 4 at Barajas and down the aisle of the American Airlines 757 to seat 27J, the only line of that song that plays is this one: "I've loved these days."

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