Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hello, I'm moving to Spain

Probar is a Spanish word I have a love affair with. It was not taught to me, or one that I sought out. It's a word that soaked into me on creamy, orange-scented streets in Barcelona.

On a Sunday morning in October 2007 I was trying to remember how to ask to try something—that something was Spanish wine at an open air market.

I started to get nervous, and when I get nervous I forget things, and forgetting things makes me nervous. I took a breath and stopped. I listened.

"¿Puedo probarlo?" "¿Puedo probar el vino?"

Probar. Yes! I lovingly borrowed it from the Spaniards around me and used it for myself—and had a remarkably full conversation with the merchant. I sipped red wine in the late October sunshine before continuing to wake up with a café cortado and cruasán de chocolate at an outdoor café. Classic, and perfect.

And two years later, on Nov. 3, 2009, I will be moving to Spain.

I haven't used the word "moving" yet. I've been telling people that I'm "going," or "traveling to." But there isn't a definite time period I'm going for. It's reliant upon money, I suppose, and isn't moving to any city the same way, if you're going there without a job?

Besides. "Moving" sounds so, so good. It feels right to me.

People in the U.S. generally use the word "moving" when they've been guaranteed a job at their new location. Or they have specific housing set up. I don't. I don't even know for sure if I'll be traveling around the country on my own or if I'll be staying in one place for three months teaching, then traveling, or doing both at the same time. I have no idea. And I love that, too.

I don't need to move "into" anywhere, or "for" something. I'm moving my self, my body, my spirit. I'm letting go of my apartment that I've been in love with since the day I serendipitously found it. I'm moving to jolt my soul, because it enjoys the invigoration. And it doesn't hurt to gather more experience, good or bad, for my writing life.

I am and always have been in love with everything Spanish: Spanish language, Spanish culture, Spanish food, the Spanish accent, Spanish dance... everything. I'm not sure why. It's not something I cultivated. It's just always been dancing around inside myself, and I need to bring it out and let it flutter around for a while.

For a "moving" kind of while.

Images: #1, Barcelona, Amy Segreti; #2, Malaga, Flickr user -N-Root-

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Life is For Exhaling

He was asking her if she thought she would stay here forever.

"I think sometimes that I want to get out of New York," he was saying, the way people do when traveling, "but I don't know if I want to leave in a way where I don't have access to it anymore."

I was sitting in the booth behind this pair at a Nepalese restaurant in the small mountain town of Nederland, the sweet potato masala melting along my tongue like hot marshmellows.

"I'm not sure if I'll stay here forever," the woman replied. I couldn't see her face, but her voice sounded like it came from a deeper place, wooded with experience. "I just know that I wake up every morning and I feel so..." She paused. "Sane."

I watched her titter her head from side to side in laughter—her white hair not a rigid nest but filled with movement, a puffed dandelion globe allowing light to flow through it. Her neck moved with a lengthy suppleness, like she'd spent her life looking in many different directions.

He was younger, and I could see him perfectly. Maybe a son, a nephew of hers. He looked displaced. His face looked planned, like it was created from a blueprint, and in the background there were city lights and purpose-driven stares. He had the east coast etched into him, much like I did. Or maybe didn't anymore.

I like to carry around pendants, talismans from the east—shiny Bebe purses, determined facial expressions, a defensive, city strut. To people here, I am an east coaster; to friends from home, I am a mountain hippie. My friend who works on Capitol Hill in Washington tells me that Boulder has made me soft, that living here has clouded my rational mind. But maybe it needed some clouding, some wetness gently raining from it, watercoloring my edges.

I needed to know what it felt like to be in the mountains, to feel overtaken by a ridiculous variety of natural forces, all coexisting at once. I needed to be consumed by these rugged cliffs, clawed into by the edges of the sky. It has been beautiful; I have heard the crack of my soul opening here. It is worth becoming soft for this.

I stopped being able to hear the couple, except for the woman saying, "I can keep such a low profile here." I wondered if she was someone famous, an author, an artist, or someone who just wanted to be alone. I wondered when I would get to an age where I could live in a town like Nederland, just 15 miles west of Boulder but uncountable degrees more solitary, with almost no cell phone service and a village-size town center.

I will, someday, when I have collected enough experiences to bloat the walls of my small mountain house. They will funnel through me onto paper and I will not need to go anywhere else, because accessing cities will be as easy as turning a page. And my life will exist in an exhale.

Images: #1, "Keep me company," Flickr user Trcybrr; #2, CO landscape, Amy Segreti

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Secret Lives of Raindrops

When I was little, I would study raindrops with a scientific intensity as they crawled down my mother's car window. I would play games with myself, guessing which ones would come together and barrel furiously to the end of their lives at the bottom of the window, fueled by their union. My mother would holler, and I would be quiet and watch them, wondering about the few that didn't find partners along the glass, who rolled softly and wearily to their ends. It was a way for me to turn inward while looking outward.

There are so many different ways to write. I am constantly amazed.

I picked up this book of short fiction today, "The Secret Lives of People in Love." I'd seen it before; I was originally turned off by the title, although I have several secret lives.

But I opened it up today at the Boulder Bookstore and read one of Simon Van Booy's three-page short-shorts, "The Reappearance of Strawberries." It was unbelievable. A dying man is staring out the window at the rain, requesting only strawberries on his final days, and he has a memory of a girl he should have been with.

He observed how each raindrop united with its closest other and then, split open by its own weight, ran down the glass in one even corridor. Even after her family was killed, he did nothing—not one thing.

Without memory, he thought, man would be invincible.

And this—how incredibly short and powerful it is, how it stirs a hot meringue of admiration and envy within me—is why I write.

Here is the back of his book. Martin Page's review is one that would cause me to die happily if I were to receive it.