“I had to let it happen, I had to change
Couldn’t stay all my life down at heel
Looking out of the window, staying out of the sun
So I chose freedom
Running around, trying everything new
But nothing impressed me at all
I never expected it to…” — From “Evita.”
It’s getting harder and harder to maintain some sort of blogging presence these last days. I could say I’ve been so busy with studying, sampling the wild college life and having these mad excursions to Madrid that I’m just too darn busy, friendly reader.
That’s not really the truth.
I’m just really tired.
Man, it’s been something trying to feel rested and restored! And while I have been busy with studying, sampling the not-so-wild college life and having these mad Madrid excursions, I am painfully aware it just hard keeping up with the ambition of this visit.
Or I’m just getting old?
No! It’s quite the contrary. I’m just getting young again, which is what I keep telling myself. So much is moving around in my brain, my discipline has fallen out of sync with the desire to create some sort of narrative to contain it all. It’s like time has been turned into a Garcia Marquez literary device. Nature, in this case, the heat, will bring you to your knees. It will eventually rob you of color, space and time. After such a temperate start (I mean, I was working them Zara foulards!), summer has finally invaded Salamanca. And I don’t know what’s happening anymore!
Yet, something always triggers a sense of renewal: A profound thought while walking Avenida de Portugal, an absurd moment caught out on the street, a tender first kiss in front of a train station. All of your senses are heightened by an experience like this. The challenge is remaining aware and not be compelled to try to stop time to share it all before it loses its essence and spontaneity. If you’re too quick, it feels slight and out of context. If you wait too long, it feels inauthentic and overwritten. If you say nothing at all, it dies with you.
In the greater scheme of things, I’ve dropped the narrative thread because of exactly what I am doing: Living. That’s no grand statement, chicos. I have fallen in love with the anonymity of walking through this city as much as having these moments of pure human connection, too. Making friends is as cathartic as having these bursts of self-realization as I continue to make a life for myself here.
I, too, was consumed with capturing those odd but perfectly filtered and framed moments of the day, the meals, the pets, the Selfies. Equally grand is judging the mad dash to post these snippets out into the iCloud as being so self-indulgent.
Kind of like keeping a diary-like blog?
Perhaps. And perhaps I want to keep the days and nights of Salamanca to myself just a little while longer before deciding what is worth sharing. I have cast a sly eye to what’s happening to you all this summer. Life is happening to all of us, so why not offer the slices that sustain us a little bit each time there is a moment worth recounting. A little tapas for the soul? Consider these next posts a Spanish sampler, if you will:
What’s new, Salamanca?
Alright, stand back! Because we were treated to a little of Spanish star quality. Now, I’ve been to Buenos Aires, even stood underneath the famed balcony of the Casa Rosada immortalized in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical “Evita.” While I am loathe to admit I have a “thing” for the Broadway Peron image, that’s not say I admire their actual place as fascist opportunists in world history. Still, what I am going to write next is just too cool to not share. Because, what happened as we closed our second week at the Pontificia made my Argentina moment seem like anything but a “rainbow high.”
For 35 years, students under the impassioned tutelage of Professor Don Culton of West LA College have made the summer trek to Salamanca without fail. The program, now run with his wife, la divina Professor Josefina Culton, is enjoying its 15th year being liaised with the Pontificia. This Old World institution is ground zero to a cultural foreign exchange of language,literature and ideas, one that reaches out to schools all over the planet.
To honor WLAC’s continued loyalty to this self-proclaimed city of the Spanish Language, the municipality of Salamanca greeted us all to a special gathering in their grand hall. Located under the legendary clock of the Plaza Mayor, we all trooped over to meet and greet with one of the city’s officials, Julio López Revuelta. Introductions, welcomes and a heartfelt ¨Gracias¨ followed — then we stepped out into the famed balcony to drink in the sun drenched plaza from the most spectacular vantage point. The hall and balcony is a privilege only bestowed upon royalty, political leaders and cultural figures (read: stars!) from around the world. And now, us, this rag tag bunch of ethnicities, ages, genders and perspectives. Not a bad way to start a Salamancan afternoon. Check out the official photo below:
After snapping a tsunami of selfies and bragging right postings reserved for InstaLife, we made our way back to routine of the day. Well, some of us. It seems the Senior Ditch Day of heading to Lagos, Portugal on Friday was on par with hitting the override button of the moment. Money had to be withdrawn and libations needed to be secured for their sure-to-be fantastic journey, which apparently it was based on early reports now that they are back.
They’re truly like something out of “Beach Party” movie, complete with their own versions of Frankie, Annette, Treasure and Bonehead, all underscored by a Donna Loren song. But with one crucial difference: innocence lost. The swagger, the boundless confidence. I can’t decide whether it is because they really think they’re worldly or they’re just following a handed down script of reckless youth they had nothing to do in writing. Either way, I still feel this paternal sense, hoping the stories that eventually will emerge from Lagos are the stuff of good, clean fun and not of Amanda Knox on trial.
As much as adults can fault them for not taking full academic advantage, and there is truth to that, the reality is they’re here. Something of this experience will stick, even if the merciless heat is determined to wash it all away as we sweat through these final weeks. Whether it’s a newfound appreciation for the language, a dance with a cute stranger or a night out that defies physical stamina, what’s happening in Salamanca is exactly what we all should be doing…
Tuesday, July 15 @ Manoli’s house in Salamanca.