Spanish Sun

Max Harrison-Caldwell
March 27, 2017

TJ left Madrid the Saturday morning that started a three-day weekend. Most everyone in my program was already traveling and, for a moment, I regretted not joining some plan last minute. Walking home at 6am, I wondered what I would do without anyone around. The week had taken a toll on my body so skating seemed out of the question for the next couple days. The moment passed when I got home and I fell into a dreamless sleep. When I awoke, rays of afternoon sun dappled the clothes scattered across my floor. My half-asleep hand clumsily found my phone. Two pm. A long weekend with no plans and no friends to make plans with. I rolled over and grabbed my book.

100 pages later I decided I should go outside before the sunset. Out of habit I started walking towards the park that stands between my homestay and the IES Abroad Center where I have classes. Although the park is quite large, I’ve only seen a tiny sliver of it, so I set out towards the center without a destination in mind. The weather was lovely and people were splayed out on the grass at every turn, reading and snacking and playing with their dogs. Children chased each other, shrieking in delight (and, inevitably, crying in exhaustion). Cherry blossoms blew like pink snowflakes in the soft spring breeze, carpeting the ground below their trees. I followed a narrow cobblestone path along the stream that cuts through the park, discovering bridges I had never seen before and even a small circular island, accessible only by stepping stone. The park’s rolling, tree-dotted hills seemed infinite but eventually the cobblestones ended and I was once again on a street. By the time I got back to my homestay I was tired enough to get back in bed and keep reading.

The next day I went to the park again, this time with my book, and stayed until it was too dark to read. The warm, floral air made me think of how little time remained before I had to pack up and go home. The whole first half of the semester was a blur of weekend trips and late nights that left me feeling somehow robbed, like I hadn’t had a moment to relax and take in the scenery. A couple by the stream folded a picnic blanket, their dog running jubilant laps around their ankles. I watched the last bit of daylight disappear from the top of a nearby pine. Suddenly I was glad that everyone was gone and that I had spent two days without social interaction, wandering in the park and soaking up the famed Spanish sun. After two months, I finally felt like I could catch my breath.

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Max Harrison-Caldwell

<p>I&rsquo;m a Spanish major in my third year at Occidental College. I want to pursue a career in journalism after graduating so right now I&rsquo;m trying to get as much writing experience as I can. In addition to writing, I like skateboarding and pita chips.</p>

2017 Spring
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