When it’s time to go, time tastes sweet

+++Often I get so wrapped up in the mundane that I tend to forget how beautiful, unique and amazing the place is that I’m living. It’s not until I realize I have to leave, down to the last few months, that I really start to treasure a place and take advantage of it for all that it is. If I haven’t been making an effort to do so already!
+++Studying abroad in Barcelona, I especially appreciated even the rainiest, emotionally turbulent days. If I was downtrodden- at least I was in Barcelona. Hard to believe at times, but I knew it was true. After six months of living life to the fullest, what else was left to do? The last three weeks were eternal, dragged slower than a turtle’s tail, even until the last day. But eventually I would get there, and I vowed to cherish every moment. I resolved first to jog every day to the beach, buy Moroccan treats as often as the fancy struck me, stop once more by all my favorite haunts—el MACBA (the modern art museum) that doubled as a skate park, the shisha bar, the gothic quarter—all those small moments that made living in Barcelona the experience that it was. I even had some misadventures trying to see places I hadn’t seen yet—climbing the Tibidabo without so much as a map like a misguided hitchhiker sweating it in thick black tights and boots, experiencing a more serene type of magic with a friend in the Laberinto de Huerta (the garden labyrinth).
    This was the way I should be living every day, I realized, no matter where I live. Seeing the world with wonder, through a blogger’s eyes. On my return to the States I managed to keep up this perspective for a few weeks, in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois. Life centered around the Amtrak station, old town shops, and its historic relevance as the great site of the Lincoln Douglas debate. Our campus bubble had the immense pride and impressive power of creating its own magic reality. I was welcomed to a wild writer’s parade for senior seminar, the famed professor dressed in robe and wielding a shaman’s staff as he played pied piper. Boy poets tagged along with ukuleles and banjoes in hand, impromptu bluegrass song and odes to the train station while the rest of us wore ridiculous hats and clothes, clapping and chanting like madmen on our way to the fame house of Carl Sandburg’s birth.
+++His home became a gallery of picture frames, old typewriters and gadgets cased in glass. We progressed naturally to the backyard, a path of stones engraved with the legacy of his words. The ceremony ended with tea and a poetry reading by Kwame Dawes- a testimony of art through the dead and the living, from all cultures and walks of life. Though Galesburg lacked Spanish cathedrals and ancient maze-like streets, there was a tight knit community that created its own fair share of artists, drew us in like magnets, and I was glad to steep in the experience of my last three months as a senior, knowing graduation would go just as fast as Spain.
+++I lost my spirit on my return back home. What could possibly be interesting about home sweet Homewood, where the hottest thing in town was a new Mom and Pop shop, a Jewish rummage sale, and the latest gossip at the neighborhood block party. My commute to Chicago on the other hand—I could not believe how much I took this city for granted. I really had to enjoy my last summer, to do everything I’ve never done but always wanted to. For the first time I combined my city savvy with new born traveler’s eyes. What was I thinking? I had to invite my friends for lunch at the Tribune Tower sky deck, floor twenty two, with a grand view of the Islamic inspired tower to our left, the airscape of French influenced skyscrapers surrounding us. I lived in the swirl of art fairs and music fests scattered across neighborhoods interconnected by the loop. Wicker Park, French boulangeries, farmer’s markets, Boystown, a summer’s view of Lake Shore Drive lined with trees, the water and the sky beyond it. I dated a boat captain and got a free architectural boat tour, enhanced by my love of the river. Glistening buildings greeted our tour group at every curve and corner, making me realize this was a city built along the river. I wished I could live at that vantage point every day, become a fisherwoman.
+++At the end of my stay, even my childhood home with the bright flower bush became dear, the crack in the porch from which foxes and baby bunnies emerged. I recalled days when the backyard was a magic realm, when I played along the clotheslines we used to hang the laundry on the sundeck, and the great willow tree. The starry night sky, the planes flying overhead, and the fire bugs glowing in the safety of that cul-de-sac space. I had been filled with such desperation to leave, but when the time came I wanted nothing more but to linger eternally, in the last of those moments. This experience too, was worthwhile


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