I just spent a colorful, decadent, freezing weekend in Paris. It was my first time traveling-while-traveling.
Much of the time I stood tapping my foot at an intersection of cultures: saying "merci" like "merthi," reading El País in French cafés, speaking half-English/half-Spanish because I didn't know which language someone was more likely to know ("Tiene water? Agua?" ::cup hands for emphasis::). Considering I cannot even pronounce "je suis" correctly no matter how many times I try, these language juxtapositions were necessary.
I spent time wandering the city and visiting neighborhood markets with one of the most interesting men I've met in a while, Roberto. He speaks five languages, is extremely thoughtful and intelligent, and inspired me to bring my laptop on the metro to write, like he does.
“Even if I only get one perfect sentence out of it—it's worth it,” he said.
I taught him some salsa tricks and he introduced me to tango. I spent my last night savoring a French wine over an immense dinner and accidentally seeing for the first time the Eiffel Tower, while midnight bike-riding around the city. After drinking hot chocolate at a bourgeois bar, I slept for four hours and hopped on a plane back to Spain.
And I was perfectly content to do so.
Being in Paris made me realize how much Spanish I actually do know, how proud I am of it, how happy I am to use it... and how much I have come to regard Madrid.
I wandered in and out of consciousness on the flight home, due to the lack of sleep. As we touched ground, I opened my eyes and thought, simply, "I am home, and home is Madrid." And then, a smile bloomed across my sleepy face, sprouting from deep within.
Home is Madrid.