My breath sketched a cloudy imprint of my face on the once spotless glass of the train. I proceeded to clean it off with my sleeve, grainy with marbles of sand from the Mediterranean coast of Barcelona. A few managed to stick, and I chuckled at my absentmindedness. As usual, I had done more harm than good. As the train came to a halt, minutes outside of Oviedo, the first blue lights from the poetic city made the pieces of sand glimmer as if they were still asleep at the mouth of the ocean. I remembered my last moments in Barcelona. I spent them at the beach collecting seashells and eavesdropping on the fisherman’s stories.
After an hour of thoughtless wanderings, I sat on a rock on the edge of shore and watched a blue kite rise and fall gracefully. Suddenly, the wind picked up and the high tide rushed against my bare feet. The kite jolted uncontrollably before my eyes and I felt an inexplicable sadness. From where did this feeling emerge? The answer didn’t come to me at the shore but on an icy morning that caused my breath to sketch a cloudy imprint of my face on the once spotless glass of the train. I realized that I was suffering from a case of homesickness from a place I barely knew.
Although the thought of having a new home away from home made me feel warm inside, I still questioned my own rationality. Could it be that after a month I could call Oviedo my home? My mind wandered back to the beginning of January when I first pressed my face to the glass of the moving train with trembling hands, frightened by the images zooming before me. The city looked like the perfect setting for a horror movie. The darkened narrow streets and decrepit buildings from centuries past seemed fantastical. I felt like Little Red Riding Hood when she perceived for the first time that her defenseless grandmother was –in reality- a sneering wolf who would surely gobble her up. The Oviedo I saw that morning in the window was surely not anything like the beautiful images I had seen on my computer screen from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It was a nightmare coming alive in the glass.
Fortunately, this nightmare was temporary, and since then I have come to appreciate the warm reality of Vetustian life. Just after a mere weekend in the bustling city of Barcelona, I could hear the voices of my new home beckoning me like a beautiful symphony. I longed for the many ta luegos from friends in the streets on my way to the university and my host mom’s voice echoing through my bedroom door. I wondered about the many people who frequented her bar to simply drink a café solo or clara and talk about their lives without a hint of prisa. After feeling so small in the vastness of the Barcelonan streets, I missed the symbolic mystery of Oviedo and the welcoming smile of her people who lend me their ears when I go on my rants about love, literature or spurts of depression
On my second arrival to Oviedo, I felt confident. I quickly descended from the train towards the light of daybreak. I glided across the recently washed cobble streets with the calm stride of someone who knows their place within a city. I silently observed the movements that defined Oviedo’s elegant dance. The dark- haired waiters begun to arrange the tables in their respective plazas, the ancianos waltzed with their hands behind the backs staring out into the familiarity of the years, young African men walked briskly about with their book-bags full of movies and music and the aromas of fresh bread and cafe filled my lungs. I stopped in the middle of the street and lit a cigarette as the city awakened. The red light from my cigarro was overshadowed by a strange illumination of being home for the first time.