Extranjero

Madrid is sunny today and I smile as I make my way home. I can’t hide the smile that is forming on my mouth, the smile of contentment. I have been challenged and feel like I’m finally faced with something completely different, strange, scary and beautiful. I feel pretty and misunderstood and lost and happy all at once. My head has been spinning, translating word-to-word, sentence-by-sentence, sometimes forgetting everything. I wake up and there are so many words in my head that I forget where I am.
The sun here hides behind buildings, once in a while reappearing when no one is watching. I miss nothing of who I was and what I did before I left. I simply want to keep walking in the calles and watch the Madrilenos who watch me.
What happens on the streets, on the sidewalks, and everywhere else happens with a certain degree of calmness and tranquility. No one rushes or gets in line to go. No one sips coffee while walking to work. People like to sit, take their time, have coffee breaks and enjoy life, sun, a bit of gossip. Madrilenos are not punctual; time has a different concept to them. As I wait, early as always, they arrive slowly, talking in their sweet, thick accents. Inside the metro, I never worry, never get nervous. Those around me are peaceful, relaxing with music or the day’s paper, or talking quietly. There are times that musicians aboard the train and play a three minute song, get their donations and give thanks before hopping to the next train.
Drinking coffee is a pleasure, a custom of every true Madrileno. One is never served with a plastic cup. Everything is elegant, prepared and warmed. If one asks for coffee with milk, the milk is heated an extra time if one wishes.
I missed nothing today and liked being an extranjero, a stranger…because sometimes you understand yourself better when no one else does.
This is my sweet dream…and I like to keep dreaming.

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