A woman whose path I crossed since we began our journey gave me a piece of advice. She told me to not compare Spain to my life in America, to embrace this land and live here without comparison.
So I do just that. I live here, in Barcelona, and that’s what I do. I don’t look for Cheerios at Target, I don’t use Amazon Prime. And I don’t spend time at home organzing my stuff. I wander around. I continue to recognize differences between home and here, without analysis. I just notice.
I notice so many songs on the radio are remakes. I have heard everything from Elvis Presley remakes, to Neil Diamond, to Michael Jackson, to Tracy Chapman and to Bruno Mars. The Spanish can’t speak a lick of English, but sure enjoy listening to American songs.
I notice the freshness of the food I buy at the market. I still have a firm ready to eat red pepper in the refrigerator that I bought the first week we arrived.
I notice no one rushes anywhere. We have to ask for a waiter, we have to ask for a drink, we have to ask for our bill.
I notice so many women walk out of the bathrooms without washing their hands. I have witnessed restaurant employees flush and exit. So gross.
I notice the pharmacies accommodate whatever I’m looking for. I ask and they replay, “I can have that here tomorrow morning.” And then when I walk out of my apartment door the next day and around the corner to the pharmacy, it’s there. The item is there. They have found me bar soap for Jeffrey, Allegra like medicine for Amelia, and a product similar to Gas-X for I’m not saying who.
We all notice newness everyday. We share our new stories during dinner. We laugh at ourselves and at each other. It’s funny when Elliot imitates his gym teacher or Amelia wears her raincoat while doing the dishes. Reconnecting as a family at the end of the day remains the old act that without a doubt sustains us all.
So, as I think of what was and what is, I come to discover that in the short time I was told to avoid comparison, I found coorelation. I discovered comparing myself and my experience to others provides security in knowing we are alike, knowing we share, we connect. However, individuality, reigns. It allows me to be pure, to be true and to learn to love myself for being not only a stranger in a strange land, but also for being just plain strange.