I had been there before,
same place, same time,
at the base of an uphill trek,
on a dark, quiet, city street,
balancing on black stilts.
I began like before:
eyes strong and vigilant,
paces calculated, stable, and sure.
Internally shrinking at the thought
of the judging eyes of the few taxi drivers
as they approached and passed
regardless of whether they actually noticed.
And like before my feet were tired,
I was tired,
and each coming bench teased me.
But my pride was steadfast,
this pride which brought me here in the first place
which kept me from folding,
from resorting to the highest sign of weakness,
from taking a taxi.
But unlike before something was different,
I was different,
and this so-called pride stopped being so noble
and so, after a very short while
I defiantely took off my stilts,
held them in my right hand,
and started to run.
And I felt Barcelona under my feet.
With my gaze turned to only what was three steps ahead,
and through puddle-soaked, black stockings,
I gripped what I had grown to admire:
the paisley print, honeycomb hexagons,
the tiled off, symmetrical shamrocks,
the perfectly stamped small circles,
the zigzagging brickwork, and
the grainy blacktop pavement.
And I slowed to a walk.
Shame left and was replaced with a smile
as I looked around in amusement at
what had been so foreign,
what had grown to be so familiar, and
what would become a glossy memory,
sanded away of the grit that was felt so strongly at the time:
the second-thoughts, and
And when I made it outside my soon-to-be former home
I finally sat down on a bench
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<p>Hi all! My name is Emma Ropski and I'm a senior sociology and psychology major at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am a middle distance runner on the track and field team there and love it to bits. My interests include the sociological imagination, thrifting, lifting, daytime judge shows, and gorditas. I am so excited to share my study abroad experience in Barcelona with you!</p>