Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Afternoon of My Life

We landed in Barcelona on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012. Groggily, we dragged ourselves off the plane, cursing ourselves and our neighbors on the flight for staying up for four out of the seven hours instead of accepting the precious gift of sleep we'd forgotten we needed. Somehow we found on our bags on the carousel and pushed them onto our school's rented tourism bus, you know those super cute ones with the mirrors that make the entire bus look like some weird, metallic bug?

I settled into a seat on the back corner of the bus, determined to ignore my chaperone's pleas and explanation as to why we shouldn't succumb to sleep. Just before I totally tuned everything out, I pried my eyelids open and peered out the window only to be met by the dry, Spanish landscape that expands from the BCN airport to its actual city. I remembered that I was in Spain, a country I love, that is filled with food, music, and people I love almost as much as home. Suddenly I wasn't so tired.

This photo was taken almost 12 hours later. We'd been awake the whole time, wandering around Las Ramblas, checking into our hotel, and stumbling over our under-practiced Spanish. One of our chaperones told us that the Mediterranean Sea was "just a 3 mile walk" from our hotel. To our overtired and basically incoherent brains, she was a lunatic, but 20 minutes later, we were all in our walking shoes (and some without no bathing suits as you can see--- a clear testament to how out of it we were) ready to trek to the Med. We reached the boardwalk after passing street vendors, skateboarders, surfers, and plenty of familiar looking tourists, and there it was: the Mediterranean Sea.

It was one of those rare moments in life where you see something you've heard about over and over, like Mayan Temples,  the Eifell Tower, or the Hollywood Sign. And yet, I took one look at the exaggerate expanse that was the Mediterranean Sea, and felt calm and panic rise in my chest simultaneously. Panic because I had no idea what was on the opposite shore from me--- what did Northern Africa really mean in my life? I was hit by a sudden realization of just how huge our world is, and how little my role in it seemed. Still, the calm coming from my heart won out and reminded me that if I wanted, I didn't have to feel the isolation I felt in that moment. I didn't have to stay ignorant to all the world had to offer me. I could join in. And with that burden lifted, I grabbed my friends hands and dove in.