I must admit a very serious truth that may in fact dismantle the superheroinism that shrouds me in the blogosphere (and not so much in reality). As the frequent traveler with miles out the wazoo, and travel tips hasta las narices, I have a tendency to appear unfazed by the temporal changes and competing commitments of global travel. And the vast majority of the time, things are precisely as they appear, save one very understated exception. When traveling to and from home, I get deathly ill. Not kinda sick, not borderline unwell, I mean “wow, I think I’m going to die on the floor of my bathroom, never have kids, leave my mother to pay my debts, the dog will die of sadness and never bark for help (cuz’ he’s a mystery that way), oh is that ‘tuberculosis or the black plague’ I feel welling upside my lungs, a disaster on the borderline of deceased” debilitated and impaired.
This has happened to me for as long as I can recall. And I genuinely believe that about 5 years ago, I subconsciously began to orchestrate the type of illness I hoped to suffer. There were the times when I just needed my immune system to collapse so that I wouldn’t have to endure some overblown event a friend had planned for the day I returned. There were the headaches, whose throbbing I could feel in my throat, which meant that I would surely have to sleep in the next day – prohibiting any form of work for an additional 24 hours, at least. But each time, my conscious self was always shocked and surprised by the fact that I was (again) sick and so devastatingly so. I’m not sure if these illnesses were just excuses for avoidance or delay on the other end, or if it’s been to up the ante since just boarding a plane is now as mundane as stepping onto a public bus, but I think it has come to mean a crossing of a threshold. It has meant my exerting effort; I don’t just hop on a plane, I must traverse that unforeseen space between life and death, called insert acute concocted illness name here, to decide that YES, I really want to leave/go home.
Going to/ From home is not just another trip. It’s not simply hailing a taxi in New York to catch a show that I’ll miss if I take the subway. It’s a choice. There’s a wide world out there, after all, and maybe I should reconsider going back to some place I’ve already been. And, hey, if I miss that flight who could blame me – dude, I’m coughing up a lung through my earlobes. If I do make it home, well, shouldn’t somebody take good care of me and give me attention? After all, I’m as sick an abused dog in a country of drought. And, of course, why leave the comforts of home for some wretched land of mysteries and unforeseen problems? Shouldn’t I really take another day, maybe that’ll allow the antibiotics to soak in, see if I can get my flight changed for a later time or not at all, since I don’t really feel well?
See, I’m crazy! There! I freak out, subconsciously, even when boarding planes regulated by airlines that always mess up my vegetarian meal and seat me in the middle and oblige me to carry only one checked bag. But, I’m only human in the face of home… for the rest of the world, I’m pretty dagnabbit robotic.
Imagine the world of wonder that opened to me when I got my version of whooping cough before embarking on this trip to Spain. What a wonderful surprise! After all, I haven’t considered Spain home in about a decade and the last time I was here I was certainly here for vacation, but this trip… thanks to my near death experience… reminded me that I was in fact reuniting with a place I’d called home. And why not? After all I had spent a very formative year here. Well not, here here, like Madrid, but here like Spain. And it was spent with my mama, not my mom, but my mama Espanola. So, surely, coming back to Spain to stay in the house of my Spanish host mom – even though it’s not the same house – was so much like coming home that the requisite bodily rejection was subconsciously elicited, like a charm. How friggin’ cool?!
So cool that I certainly missed an entire day of site seeing while hocking up loogies in my sleep, which lasted from siesta time ’til 7 in the morning the following day. And while I’m walking now by the grace of God and the act of good judgment that permits double fisting advil and paracetemol, asi es la vida!
I remember la Plaza del Sol, and the Caixas with their art exhibitions (I never understood how a bank would double as an art space or as an exhibitor (are they investing people’s money in fine arts dealing?), but…hey, it works). And the Prado and the Reina Sofia, I remember you too. It’s been so long, but you’ve changed so little. So much that could be forgotten in a decade, and yet what’s important remains like the coating on a non-stick pan. The night is young, my ears have stopped popping, and I think my eye will stop twitching after I take a short nap. After a home cooked meal, I feel better already. Even my mother (the real one) would appreciate that at this very moment someone is whistling “These are a few of my favorite things” in the open courtyard below my room.
Let’s just say, being at home is a lot like riding a bike – you never forget – or else you’ll bust your arse and surely the self-inflicted, highly avoidable pain will serve as a reminder not to forget the next go round.