This is our 15th day in Spain, and while I love this trip (save for the last two days—I’ve been sick as a dog), I also miss home.
There’s something about spending a prolonged period in someone else’s house that reminds you how great your own joint really is. The place we’re staying is absolutely wonderful—it’s a fout-flight townhouse with vivid colors and a wide open kitchen/dining room and tons of windows overlooking the street. Yet it’s not my home. In my home, I never bang my head. Here, I’ve done so at least a dozen times—hard. The entranceways into different rooms are extremely low, a fact I somehow routinely forget. Yesterday, while battling a fever and stomach cramps, I slammed by noggin extra-extra-extra fierce into a beam. “FUCK!” I screamed. “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” My two little kids heard the whole thing, and while they don’t actually know that ‘Fuck’ is a word, they found it hilarious.
“Daddy, can you do that again?” my son asked.
They don’t have a clothes dryer here, which at first was a fun novelty for the kids (hanging the wet laundry up), but now is simply irksome. Again, not a complaint. It’s just that, all your life you’re used to a certain way of being. And when that changes, spoiled Americans like myself get mopey. Also, they have a cat. A lovely, decent, friendly cat named Mary Lou. We’ve all come to embrace Mary Lou—save for her food. Twice a day one of us (usually me) walks into the kitchen and opens a container of something called “Pate by Schlecker.” Best I can tell, it’s a combination of discarded meat parts, stirred in salt and water. The smell is insipid, and 50% of the time the oily leftover spills on either my hand or foot. My lasting smell memory of Spain won’t be from a restaurant or beach—it’ll be Mary Lou’s gnasty grab.
I miss my bed, which is long, and my pillow, which is soft. I miss my neighbors, who are friendly (here, they barely register), and my hammock, which is soothing. I miss looking forward to mail and I miss the New York Times being delievered and I miss my shows (Hung and Entourage, specifically).*
That said, I love Spain. L-o-v-e it. And the house swap has been one of the great experiences of my life. The relaxed lifestyle is something we need to emulate in America—the siesta, the casualness. Also, with every visit to Barcelona I fall more in love with the city. It’s a place that truly offers everything, from architecture to food to sports.
I’ll be sad to leave. And thrilled to be home.
PS: So I’ve had diarrhea for two days. This morning I went to the pharmacy to get some medicine. I told the woman my problem, in Spanish, and she called for someone else. Another woman came, she spoke broken English. She said, “What do you need?” I said, “Something for my stomach.” She said, “Is your stomach in pain?” “No,” I said in hushed tones, “I have diarrhea.” “What?” she said. “Diarrhea,” I said, “Diarrhea.” “Oh,” she said loudly. “Diarrhea!!!”
* They receive a bunch of English-language channels here. One is a movie channel that seems required to only show terrible films. Last night the wife and I watched Behind Enemy Lines, starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman, and The Family Stone with Diane Keaton and Dermot Mulroney. (I just learned from IMDB that, in real life, Mulroney is SIXTEEN years older than his on-film love interest, Claire Danes. Ew.). In two days I’ve lost 10 pounds from diarrhea and 20 IQ points from the two films.