You wake up at 4am Utah time and wish you were half as tired as you were last night at 8pm when your body thought it was 4am Madrid time.
Having vowed to maintain the European habit of walking everywhere, you decide to walk to the supermarket, reusable bags in hand, to buy a few things for the day. This is a brilliant plan right up until you have to walk back home with a jumbo pack of chicken, two bags of grapes, one bag of carrots, a head of lettuce, one cucumber, one carton of strawberries, a large container of yogurt, a dozen eggs, and (what were you thinking?) two gallons of milk. You understand for the first time exactly why Spaniards do not share your family’s addiction to fresh milk.
On your walk from the store, you are downright intimidated by all the giant cars and trucks on the road. Were they always this HUGE?
Your daughter, whom you left home with her grandparents for the last two weeks, keeps referring to you as “grandma-I-mean-mom.” You hope this wears off soon as you already have a serious guilt-complex about the desertion.
Your son spends his first morning home in the sandbox digging a Metro system, complete with accompanying schematic map of the various train lines, color-coded and linked by a central hub. (This is Gabie, of course, and he has named his system the “Getro”).
You spend your first day home doing laundry and you find yourself sniffing everything as you put it into the washer, trying to store up the last whiffs of Spain before wiping them out with Cheer and fabric softener. Most of the clothes have that musty, moist smell of the Gypsy caves where you slept for two days in Granada, but every once in a while, you catch the Madrid scent—an unmistakable mix of cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, fish, olive oil, urine, and lemon cologne—a scent that you love and recognized the instant you stepped into the city again after not having visited for 25 years.
You resolve not to get so emotional about your laundry.
You fry up some pechugo de pollo for dinner and use at least a cup and a half of olive oil in the pan.
You eat said dinner at 8pm and this seems rather early for a Spanish meal which often starts around 10 and lasts for over an hour. But your kids are so tired they are tipping off their chairs.
You agree with Gabie when he says “I wish we could live in Spain, but just stay in our own house.” You’re happy to be back in your own bed, with your own stuff, in a house with an energy-inefficient clothes dryer and giant water heater and toilets that are no mystery to flush (more on this later). But you’re also a bit depressed to be back in the land of big cars, sensible shoes, beige carpet, and boring cheeses. You promise Gabie (who cried on the flight home because he was afraid we would never again visit Spain and never again taste the nectar of the gods that is Natillas) that you will go back. Somehow. You’re not sure how this is going to happen and you realize that this trip was 10 years in the making and you know you’ll be paying it off for at least a year. But somehow you’ll have to do it again.