There was a hanging light in my homestay bedroom.
We called it “La Loca Luz” because it had a mind of its own. It functioned, but it ignored whether the switch was flipped up or down. It didn’t help that my roommate and I are each about 6 feet tall and constantly hit it with our heads, but sometimes it would come on. Perhaps in the middle of the night. If we were lucky, it would come on when we were doing homework. But most of the time, it wouldn’t come on at all.
On the morning of April 30, my last day in Barcelona, I propped my two suitcases up against the wall, made my small bed and took one final look around my room, the one that held memories and now looked the same as it did just four short months ago.
I had been mentally preparing myself for this day, and I thought I had been ready to go home. But once I heard Mercé’s shuffling feet in the next room over, I couldn’t control myself – waterworks, a little hyperventilation and a full realization that this was it.
Mercé left her bedroom and said, “Pues, esto es el momento para decir ‘adiós.’”
I couldn’t even speak. At that point in the semester, using Spanish was natural, but at that moment, nothing was leaving my lips. I thought about how Mercé knew two phrases in English, “thank you very much” and “I love you.” I tried to say at least that, but the only thing that came out was more tears.
I cried, and she talked more.
And then something happened. La Loca Luz came on. Mercé pointed out the irony to me.
“En tu último día,” she laughed, “La Loca Luz funciona.”
I managed to squeeze out a chuckle through my streaming eyes and hoarse voice. Mercé offered me tissues as I put my hand on my luggage, taking my first step out the door.
As I was looking at her from the threshold, now as a guest and not a resident, I was finally able to say, “Gracías, para todo.”
With one last embrace, I stepped into the elevator and waved as the doors closed, Mercé’s face vanishing along with them. The elevator started its descent, and I wondered if I’d ever see her face again – one I saw every day for four months.
I was leaving it all behind. Back to America to awake from this dream I was in. Back to reality.
When the plane took off, I caught one last glimpse of my host city. The pristine waters of Barceloneta, the scaffolds and pillars of La Sagrada Familia, a light fog hovering over the mountains and my own street of Balmes somewhere in the mix, all becoming more microscopic with each passing second. So familiar these places had become, and now so distant as they slipped away. I was going home, but I was leaving home as well.
And then I started thinking about my last precious moments and my journey from the start of it all. I was going home a more independent, more confident, more worldly human being.
I wasn’t leaving a dark, empty void. After four months in Barcelona, all of the experiences I had and the memories I made won’t disappear into an abyss. And with all the emotions that rushed through me on the last day and the ache in my heart knowing this chapter had ended, I couldn’t feel entirely torn.
Because on my last day in Barcelona, La Loca Luz had turned on. On my last day, there was light.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Marisa is a sophomore at the University of Florida, majoring in journalism and minoring in Spanish. She is an active writer and photographer for her school newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, and a varsity rower on the UF crew team. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, volleyball, cooking, shopping and hanging out with friends. Traveling is Marisa’s biggest passion, and she has wanted to study abroad in Barcelona for some time now. She is most excited to master fluency in the language, immerse herself in the culture, sample exotic cuisines, and explore cities throughout Europe with new and old friends.</span></div>