It was clear that Spain was changing. Distances were suddenly shorter, and all my friends with kids own a Sony PlayStation or Nintendo Wii. It’s not at all that I am surprised at the modernity of it. It has been modern – more modern than us - for a long time now. In fact I had always been offended as a teen and young adult when my American friends asked me if Spain had such creature comforts as the bathrooms and appliances that we took for granted. I’d sit and steam quietly thinking “ignorant Americans.” The surprise for me was that it was not so different anymore. In a way that was good. There was less I needed to relearn to get around, less I needed to explain, and routine things – such as Starbucks and place mats to color in restaurants - made Madrid less nerve wracking for the kids. Familiarity is always comforting to children.
But the loss of much of its traditional nuances was also sad to me. In a way, that which made the idea of “Spain” so magical for me as a child was starting to fade. Some things remain the same. The smell of cologne from people in the street, the cleanliness of its buildings and the hard sidewalks with small square designs which absolutely kill your feet were still there. And that’s when I realized I was like so many immigrants that return to their countries… their homes, which they preserved in their minds frozen in time… to find everything changed.
It had been 13 years since I last visited Madrid. I will never let that much time pass again.
More to follow…