I’ve been home now for, let’s see, almost 4 full days. Surprisingly, I am pretty much as un-jetlagged as you can get, seeing as how it is 4:20 in the morning right now in Spain and I’m alertly (or almost) writing this blog post. I accredit this phenomenon to the fact that from the time I woke up Saturday morning in Madrid (8:30 AM Madrid time, so 11:30 PM the night before in California) to the time I settled into bed in Mill Valley late Saturday night (somewhere around midnight, which means somewhere around 9 AM Sunday morning in Madrid), I had not slept for over 24 hours. A few things factored into this - one of them being my almost complete inability to sleep on airplanes, one of them being my conviction that if I forced myself to stay awake until California, I could just put myself right onto Pacific Coast time, and one of them being the turmoil of thoughts and emotions roiling inside my mind.
I don’t think anyone will be surprised when I admit that I completely broke down even before the plane took off. It had been building up for the last couple days, and especially when I reached the airport. But I just couldn’t hold it in. So I turned my head to the window, and tried to sob as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. I just couldn’t deal with the fact that I was actually leaving. No more Spanish surrounding me at all times, no more club nights until 7 AM, no more crazy futbolistas cheering on the streets, no more tiny dogs or efficient public transportation systems. No more Madrid. And there was also the people I was leaving behind. Not that I met that many Spaniards, but there are two in particular that I will miss quite a lot. But above all else the great friends I made in my program that study at American universities that AREN’T in California, namely Vasser in upstate New York. After such an amazing semester with them, the realization that I won’t be seeing them for a very long time was just something else to pile on top of the sadness.
Luckily, the first thing on the menu for in-flight entertainment was the second installment in the Sherlock Holmes movies. There is nothing like watching Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson to make you laugh, even in the midst of departure depression. So I was able to pass the 10 hours of flying on the way to Dallas reasonably un-tearstained.
Landing in Dallas and having to go through customs and then a freakish line at the baggage claim/international arrival areas, coupled with being surrounded by Texans instead of Spaniards was almost too much for me. I was exhausted, depressed, and already ready to get back on a plane and head straight back to Spain. Thankfully, I was able to call my mom on my newly re-enabled iPhone and that calmed me down and made me excited and ready to get home to SF.
The second flight was actually harder than the first, because I was reaching almost delirium from lack of sleep and anxiety. By the time I walked through the gates and into the arms of my family, a few more shed tears were unavoidable. But quickly put aside in the face of familia, Cafe del Soul wraps, and the wonderful fog breeze all around.
So now I’m back. Hopefully, not for too long of a time. As plans go now, I would like to be heading back to Madrid sometime at the end of next summer. Who knows, maybe even at the beginning of next summer, after my graduation. Vamos a ver. All I can say is, my home might be San Francisco, but I left my heart in Madrid.