Esperanza y Belleza (and maybe some sleep deprivation)

This morning I said goodbye to my dear amiga who came to visit me for nearly a week – a week of exploring Madrid, of showing her around Alicante, of watching her learn (and use) her first words of Spanish, of getting bed bugs in Madrid and spending a fair amount of our trip getting rid of them, a week of delayed flights and hours spent in airports, a week of meeting new people and introducing an old friend to what has become normal life to me. (Except the bed bug part, thank god.)

It was a very full week and it flew by, only slowing down for brief moments: the frigid walk through the empty streets of Madrid on Christmas Eve with a Russian pilot I met while waiting for the cathedral to open. The grey jumbled expanse of Picasso’s Guernica in the Reina Sofia museum. The sound of the sea sifting through stones on the coast of Altea. The brown patchwork of Spain drifting by beneath me – roads winding through hills to small towns clustered around bullrings and church spires casting humble shadows.
Now time has slowed down again and I am wandering Madrid on my own for the day until my paths cross with other friends tonight. After so much conversation and adventure it is a headlong tumble into my own brain-noise. Listening to guitar players and stepping over puke on the metro. Watching as the street workers clean up the massive heaps of garbage from Madrid’s New Year’s Eve’s Eve (which appeared to be a full dress rehearsal for the fiestas to come tonight, Nochevieja.) Getting the first hola guapa of the day from a gentleman with pajama pants and a mimosa in hand, behind glass in a hotel lobby. Wandering in and out of churches and plazas and bookshops, looking for central heat or for sunlight. Finally indulging my craving for spicy food at an Indian restaurant in La Latina, where chicken vindaloo and a free shot of apple liquor leave me warm inside despite numb fingertips.
For me the beginnings and endings of things are significant – a year older, a year ending. I feel contemplative this time of year, and  especially now: beginning a new year in a new place, so far away from where I was a year ago and with no idea where the next year will find me. I wish I had something more conclusive or wise or insightful to say, instead of just a handful of vivid snapshots, trailing loose ends and snipped connections like so many sparking wires.
Rather than resolutions (though I have them) or summaries (it would be impossible) or predictions (even more so) I want to close this year with hope.
Hope that 2012 holds more healing than hurt, more growth than destruction, more peace than war.
Hope that this coming year will find me stronger, more aware, more open, more adaptable, more rooted in confidence and peace.
Hope for the same for the ones I love (yes, you.)
Turning the sea upside down at el Castillo de Santa Barbara – photo by Ashes.
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