On enjoyment and routines
Hello! I’m here! It’s been a busy couple weeks. My friend, Jill, visited from Seattle, and we spent 12 days soaking up sun, going on long walks, eating our way though some of Barcelona’s best restaurants and being generally goofy and thankful for time together. We also went to Tenerife on the Canary Islands, which I’ll write about (hopefully) soon!
It was so nice to have a friend here and see Barcelona again through fresh eyes. And to take a little break from the daily grind of writing articles for pennies …
It reminded me that there was a moment here in Barcelona where I forgot what I enjoy about life. I don’t mean that in an over-arching, depressing sense, but more just in a practical sense.
I was trying to fit into what everyone around me seemed to expect of my life in this up-all-night city: that I should be partying hard all the time, that I should be eating slices of ham and blood sausage at every meal. (There’s nothing wrong with those things, if that’s your jam, but they totally wear me out.)
Look, I’m a nerd. And a bookworm and fitness enthusiast and somewhat of an introvert. I like to cook my own slightly weird meals and discuss things like cognitive dissonance and neuroscience and feminism and whether you’d rather live in a camper van in Costa Rica or a treehouse in Vermont.
Of course I enjoy a good party, but I usually prefer a long walk in the middle of the afternoon. And a picnic with four friends over a packed room of 40.
I feel most alive when I share spooky-delicious moments of recognition with another person, when I can tell we really see each other … And usually, for me at least, those moments happen in the quiet cracks of life, somewhere on the edge, not when we’re in the middle of the city’s newest “it” bar or whatever.
So, for the last few months before Jill arrived, I settled into a happy routine. I started jogging a lot more, eating a closer-to-vegetarian diet and turning down social outings when I felt like staying in with a book. I took a long break from drinking – it was making me feel sluggish, and I was alarmed at how I started to use alcohol to eliminate my anxieties around speaking Spanish, rather than, you know, just being confident enough to speak Spanish – and I started budgeting for my return back to the states.
Taking care of myself in this way raised some eyebrows among people here. I’ve felt – or maybe I’m projecting – a bit of judgment and confusion on their parts that I haven’t been, like, going hog wild for my last two months in Spain. But I am going hog wild in my own way … I feel more creatively productive than I have in years, and emotionally speaking, I just feel really, really good.
Quiet, introspective days served me well. Then, with a friend here, I got a chance to pick back up and enjoy days of activity, travel and great conversation. It felt pretty nice to enjoy glasses of wine and sangria again too.
Now I’ve got six weeks left in Barcelona, and I’ll need to balance them with a good dose of enjoyment and focus. It feels startling and exciting that I’m entering yet another transition period, another wave of goodbyes and hellos, another new beginning.
I’m happier and more hopeful than I’ve been in years. I’m at peace in my surroundings and within myself. And I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had here.
More to come soon!