Today began, perhaps, the emotional roller coaster ride of leaving Spain. I am, without a doubt, excited to come back home. However, there are certainly aspects I will miss about Barcelona, mostly, if not only, the people I have met.
My good friend, Iana, left today to Bulgaria. For some reason I wasn't really sad at all about it until I went back to her apartment to meet my friend/her roommate, Kaitlin. I walked by Iana's room and saw it completely empty, but it still smelled like her, and it suddenly hit me that she was gone. Then, I remembered that I really do plan to see her again and everything was fine.
After meeting Kaitlin, we went a few doors down from her apartment to see the Barça championship game in a bar. It was absolutely ridiculous, as not only was it my first Spanish/European public soccer game watching experience, but they won, and they won the European championship. Now, I've seen quite a bit of crazy fútbol fan action on the streets after the game, as I live one block from where everybody likes to congregate, drink, urinate on the street, break things, shoot off fireworks and flares, make police angry, fight, chant, sing, whistle, scream, and provoke all kinds of sirens and alarms. However, this time was absolutely insane, as one would probably expect. The Plaça Catalunya by me was entirely full, so people backed up all the way to Plaça Universitad to celebrate there. I've never seen so many people in the streets, not even for the nearly-civil-war-declaration Estatut marches.
I met up with some friends, and we observed the craze for a while before heading off to a bar, and then later to a club. At this point, I was feeling pretty good since my city just won a continental championship, people were happy, I was happy to see my friends before leaving, etc. Normally, the idiots on the streets near my house tend to bring me down a bit, mostly because its near my house and I have no way to escape it. Even with my windows and doors closed it is loud and obnoxious. This time, though, I was out so it couldn't bother me so much.
After a full night of dancing until 5am, a normal night out, it came time to leave and say goodbye to a few of my friends. This is the hard part. Saying goodbye to Iana wasn't too hard because I have plans to see her again, and it seems perfectly feasible. However, this group is going to disperse back to several different countries or stay in Barcelona, which I'm not certain I'll be coming back to visit any time soon.
Of course I knew I would miss these people before hand, but it never hits until you say goodbye. For some reason it just bubbles up all kinds of emotions that you couldn't naturally bring up before. And it is weird, because it is quite possible that it is not goodbye, as I may be seeing them tomorrow, Friday, or at the airport. Who knows. My friend, Dan, said that he never says goodbye anymore, but see you later. It seems better, to me.
The hardest was probably when Tonny, my one friend who kind of initially accepted me into this group of friends started going off about how he is so sick of meeting good people and making friends and then they all just leave in the end. I could feel nothing but terrible and guilty. I had such a good time with him and the whole group, and it was all thanks to him, and I just leave him in return. But, what can I do? It was destined from the beginning and not something really under my control. Even if I had the rest of my life free with no plans, I'm not so sure I would want to stay here much longer than I am. Of course I would want to stay with all of my friends I've met here forever, but it simply isn't possible. I told him I completely understand, and that is exactly why I am ready to go home. The nature of Barcelona is temporary. People come and go, come and go. They use this city for whatever reason and then when they are done with it they abandon. To anybody living here, it must be exhausting seeing such a throughput of people, but I don't see it changing any time soon.
The thought of settling down, for the first time in my life, is really beginning to excite me. Making friends that will (hopefully) stay around a while. Forming relationships with people that can last maybe 10 years will be amazing. Truley getting to know a place, inside and out. Culture, food, stores, roads, parks…. everything. I want it to feel like home. It seems like every time somewhere starts to feel like home, it gets taken from underneath me. Settling down and permanence used to scare me, but now I can't wait for it. I am, in fact, getting older.
Walking back to my place, I was enlightened with the aftermath of the massive street-party that took place around my apartment. Near Plaça Catalunya was a Levi's store, front window smashed and entirely robbed of all merchandise. Quality citizens. Obviously, winning a championship is a good time to do a little rioting and lifting. A further walk towards La Rambla revealed missing or torn down lamp posts, traffic signals, park benches, crosswalk signs, newsstand signs, etc, etc, etc. The streets were filled with beer and urine and vomit and broken glass and garbage and everything. There were still cops hanging around to disperse anybody who wanted to form a crowd. It seems disgraceful that these people treat their own city this way.
I am ready to come home. 48 more hours. Many people to see. Dinners and beaches and packing. I will soon get to do it all over again in a week, but next time in Rochester. I knew it was coming, I knew it would be like this, but I was willing to accept the consequences and here I am now, forced to go through with them.