But where would I begin? What anecdote would I use, what metaphor would I employ? Perhaps a picture would suffice? It would speak a thousand words, but where would the 999th leave me? When you fall in love, nothing but your own memories and perspective can do it justice. I do apologize that these 500 words will not, could not, properly convey my recent love affair with Granada. You see, time has an unrelenting grip on those once in a lifetime moments that you would do anything to relive. So, while nobody else will know the precise bliss I came to know this weekend, I can convey at least a touch of it through my words.
If I’m being honest with myself, I fell in love about 10 steps out of the cab ride to my hostel. I saw a sign that read “Menú vegetariano: 10 euros.” Sold. Although, maybe it was my encounter with an American man, with a graying, wiry beard (you know, the kind that only true artists can grow). He visited Granada for the first time in 2006, and when he visited again in 2010, he stayed. Permanently. It’s just that kind of place. Or did I fall in love on my walk down Calle de Sacromonte adjacent to rolling, green mountains—the kind with active roads that spiral around their surface? The dozen or so Flamenco studios we found nestled in rock alongside the road, the church that lay on top of a hill, nearly hidden by modest homes and foliage, neglected arches and paths covered in graffiti (“Pase lo ke pase, amor y luz,” or “what happens, happens, love and light”) These are the things I encountered on my walk; these are the things I fell in love with.
Then I found myself at Mirador de San Nicolás (Saint Nicholas Lookout), a popular spot for watching the sunset. The cold pierced through my jeans and my holey wool scarf. I grabbed a seat on the stone wall at the edge of the lookout spot and positioned myself for the photo op that would continue until the last pixel of light dissolved. I straddled the wall in fear of falling, though I wouldn’t get very far even if I did. I’d likely end up at the doorstep of the quaint pizza shop about 30 feet my diagonal. What lay much, much farther beyond my vantage point was…well, was the whole city of Granada, including the world-renowned La Alhambra, the destination point for most of the city’s visitors. For the sake of my word count, suffice it to say that the Muslim-style palace-fortress is magical, dream-like, a place where sanctity and beauty melt together into one. I’m sure my effusive language seems exaggerated, but if there is one place that deserves some flowery words, it’s La Alhambra. Check out the photo I’ve attached for proof, at least for its exterior magnitude. There I sat, with two weeks left in Spain, wondering why my hopes and dreams for my semester haven’t snapped into place, why I haven’t yet had an epiphany of sorts. Then I felt it. I felt what so few people acknowledge, so few people believe. Happiness. Pure, unadulterated happiness. I watched the sun dip below the horizon, below the houses and lights. My mind was tethered to nothing; I let go. If for only that moment, I felt free.
This is what it means to fall in love.