August 26, 2012

How Barcelona Stole My Heart

I chuckle when I cast my mind back to the year 2008 when I said "God, I could never live in Barcelona. It's loud and dirty and grey."
Fast-forward four years, however, and here I am in my flat, in the heart of that city that so very repulsed me all that time ago. Saying "God, I could never live in Barcelona" reminds me of when I was nine years old and very innocently said to Taffy McGroo (let us call him my second father)  "I'm never going to drink wine". He looked at me with eyes full of doubt and a smirk playing on the corner of his lips. "No, really, it's disgusting." I stressed, playing with my hedgehog earrings and tossing my pink hair. Ha! Whatever mini Sally! You know not what it is that you say, little fool. Look at your stupid face and silly duck toy! Get me a glass of Rioja!
When you have the hardest of hearts against something, it always seems to be that much deeper when your mind is finally changed. There is a very fine line between love and hate. You've seen the soap operas and I've been through the same thing. With olives. And so for all you olive haters out there, let me tell you: You're just a few more tastes way from having your mind blown. Swear on my mumma's life. I've been there. I've lived it. And now I LOVE OLIVES. Ok?
So anyway, you might wonder how I came to the decision to live here, since I felt so strongly against it in the same way that I had felt so passionately enraged by the sight of an olive. WELL. The first time I visited, I was bound to the sisters that I was staying with and while I love them very much, the combination of personalities was a negative cauldron of hissing piss. Feeling like a piggy in the middle of WW3, I just kept my mouth shut and tried to remain as neutral as poss. But also, you see, I was a stranger to foreign lands and unappreciative of the cultural differences and took these as an offence rather than as an education and as everything was tinged by the fumes of sibling rivalry, I wasn't impressed.

Twas but a year later when I decided to give Spain a second chance and moved to Zamora, finally taking a tentative step towards embracing a land not native. And I flipping hated it, but that was kind of the point. I wanted to force myself out of my comfort zone. I cried every day. Why was there only one type of potato here? Why couldn't I buy fresh herbs in the supermarket? WHERE WAS THE HOUMOUS? When I thought I could cry no more, I rubbed my eyes, looked around and fell deeply in love with the place. That's just the way the chickpea crumbled. And so, when the chance to live in Barcelona arose, I thought 'Oh go on then. Make a Catalan maiden of me.' And a maiden I therefore became.
The first six months were somewhat a bit shoddy, with a scandalous school sacking thrown in for good measure, but I was wise enough now to know what could be possible after the storm and so after the clouds had vanished and that fresh smell that comes after the rain lingered in the air, I started to build myself a little community and set about unearthing all there was to know about Barcelona. I ventured high. I sailed low and picking up pals along the way, I brought them all together under my roof for din dins.
As for the city itself, I fell in love with the big, open sky above my head and all that it sheltered and all that it lit the way for me to see. Barcelona gave me the greatest gift of all- total independence. No ties. No negative cauldrons of piss and the freedom to find out who I really am and what I want, not just from life but from friendships and especially, love.

As I looked over the sea last night, covered by moody clouds and a half moon peeking through them, I could smell that that storm I told you about was drawing closer. When that rain pounds down and throws up the summer dust, I know there will be more good things to come but not here. Barcelona may have stolen my heart but finally I must go. My native land is stirring and pulling its strings to take me back there because, for me, home is where the heart truly is. I cannot escape that fact. And so home it is. Home sweet home. Home is where I shall eat my olives.


* Picture is courtesy of David Gallardo, on Pinterest. The heart is located in the street next to my flat and is lit up only by certain nights. You never know quite when but it is always lovely to see.
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