My last week in Barcelona was characterized by a lot of emotions, a lot of tears, and a lot of goodbyes. I am thankful to have had such a good life that I was sad to leave it. Thank you to all of the people that have helped me along the way.

For this particular post, I will need to introduce a couple of “typical espaneesh” vocabulary words:

This week out started out with a BANG, literally. Around 1:45PM I got a call from a very pissed off Rosario (Radek’s landlady), who sounds ready to kill the poor Americano. She told me that Radek had brought a girl home without telling her and was doing it her as we were speaking. Rosario demanded that I come over right now so that we could talk about the situation. Now, you see Rosario doesn’t actually care about the girl or the sex, because she is really a super homie about the whole girl thing. In fact, the prior week she actually went to sleep at her mom’s house when Radek told her he was going to bring a girl home. This time, she was super upset because Radek didn’t tell her that he was bringing a girl home. Apparently she wants to know who comes in and out of her house (understandable) and she thought of it as a huge slap in the face that Radek didn’t tell her.

Enter: Mana. My role here in Barcelona with respect to Radek and Cole has honestly become something between a (non)legal guardian, a babysitter, and a fixer. Every time the boys find a way to screw something up, it is usually something that I have to step in a get fixed. Now when I say this, I am not complaining (that much), because some of the messes have made for really good stories. Anyways, upon arriving at Rosario’s house, I find her sitting with her arms crossed, sitting on the couch, with a “a am going to kill this kid” look on her face. I sat and tried to calm her down for a little bit, but my defusing words didn’t seem to work. Once Radek finished with the girl, he came out for water, and was very surprised to see me sitting with Rosario on the couch. I then found out that Rosario hadn’t even bothered to do anything about the situation before calling me. I told him that he was in deep shit and then helped him usher the girl out of the house (who was very nice for any of you wondering). Rosario then proceed to rip him a new one. Or should I say, she tried to rip me a new one. She was upset, and she was trying to take shots back at Radek out of rage. The only problem is that Radek doesn’t speak Spanish and I had to do all the talking, so in reality, she was ripping ME a new one. On top of that, she wanted to try and keep Radek’s security deposit because of the whole situation, which Radek was always going to let her keep out of kindness and appreciation. It took me about 2 hours to get her calm enough to be back to normal and agree on a 50/50 split of the deposit. What a mess. Radek, please don’t fuck up again with Rosario, because you are walking a fine line.

I was emotionally exhausted when I got home, so I decided to sit around in my room where nobody could bother me for the rest of the afternoon. That is, until I volunteered myself to take the dog to the dog park, since Didi couldn’t because of his motorcycle accident. Dot (my host family’s dog) is honestly a menace. He is naughty, knows what he can and can’t do, and what he can get away with. In the house, he is capable of putting his head on the dinner table, tearing shoes to shreds, and blocking the entire hallway when he lays around. And then in the street, he will fight with other dogs, tug your arm right out of its socket when he sees other dogs, and has enough energy to power all of New York City. Taking the dog out is not my favorite thing to do in the world, but I am always happy to help Didi in any way that I can.

After the dog park, I rushed home and took the bus to Dow Jones, a wall-street-themed bar where the prices of the drinks are based on supply and demand until the the “market” “crashes”. I was so excited to wear my MAGA hat to the bar that I actually forgot my mask, so I had to sneak onto the bus without my mask. Good thing the bus driver was too focused on giving me a dirty look because of my hat to notice the fact that I didn’t have a mask on. Thank God ideological differences run deeper than global health problems. Once I got to the bar, I very proudly sported my glorious red hat, getting dirty looks from all but a few of the Americans sitting inside. I actually started an argument in a couple; apparently the girl voted for trump, and felt attacked by the boyfriend point out and laughing at my hat. YOU GO, GIRL. Radek said he owed me a drink for saving his ass with Rosario earlier and bought me a beer and a TRUMP shot. The Trump shot was honestly pretty disgusting, I will not lie. We went to leave at 1AM to catch the last metro of the night, but we ended up missing it by nothing and had to walk ALL the way home. The walk was cold and long, but it ended up passing by quickly as the three of us amigringos got into all kinds of different shenanigans.

Tuesday was pretty lame. I spent pretty much the whole day trying to tweak little formatting things on my website and preparing a special gift. Then, I spent Wednesday taking advantage of the last bits of time that I would be able to spend with some of my favorite people in Barcelona. I sat around with Didi while he worked, went to Junior’s house for dinner and the PSG game, and then went and hung out with my friend Victor once last time. Victor is the best friend that I made on this particular trip to Barcelona. Up until this point, all the friends that I had were from my exchange or through those people. I met Victor one day at the dog park with Gabriel, and after hitting it off from the first day, I realized that we were very similar people. If I had been born and raised in Barcelona, I probably would have ended up somewhat like him. In other words, he is a certain Spanish version of me.

On Thursday I would be in for a physically exhausting day. In the morning I hung out one last time with Pedro, my old Spanish teacher from my high school. I really like hanging out with Pedro, and despite him being 40 years older than me, we have a lot of similar interests. He is really big into walking around the city, reading all kinds of different books, and listening to jazz. A day with Pedro always promises great conversations, a lot of advice, and quite a few pointers for my Spanish. We walked 12 kilometers all around Barcelona, stopping at the occasional coffee shop, bathroom, or music store. I don’t know what got into me, but once I got home, I really wanted to run. So I called Radek and invited him for a run down Diagonal. Radek lasted about three kilometers before he had to take the metro home. In his defense, running/stamina is just about the only strength-related thing that I can beat him in. I ended up running 7 more kilometers all the way to Junior’s house, where I sat around and chatted for a little while before taking the Renfe home to quickly shower before heading out to a networking event.

Those of you who know me well will know how much I LOVE networking events (when I am in the mood). Everything about a networking event plays to things that I like or am good at: meeting new people, socializing, making friendships, getting dressed up, and learning about random things. Here in Spain, networking events are even more awesome than they are in the US. In the US they are usually centered around food, which I don’t really care for. But here in Spain, they are centered around wine. Or beer, but primarily wine. I love wine, so I tend to drink quite a bit of it while mingling or listening to the presentations. The cool thing is that the wine always gives me an advantage, since I know a lot more about wine than the average person thanks to my Bordeaux-certified-wine-expert father. The other cool thing is that I almost always leave the networking sessions slightly-to-very drunk. On this particular occasion, I ended up going home a couple glasses shy of wasted. I found this particular group on Meetup, which I will use to make my own groups back in Las Vegas. I had no idea what the Meetup scene is like in Las Vegas, but I want to make a discussion group, a professional development group, and of course, a book club. I’d really like to create a book club of young professionals; like a book club full of people that are more-or-less my age that are serious about life.

The next morning I would wake up at 8AM, hung over from all the wine and sore from all the kilometers. I headed over to Juniors house to go for one last run with my little brother. Junior is now much stronger than me, so running is pretty much the only thing that I can really keep up with him at. We ended up running all the way down the beach and back home, 9km in total. After our run, we both showered and when he went to his two-hour math lecture I decided to take a nap in his (or my?) bed. I ended up grabbing an overpriced sandwich with him and his friends and then headed back to his house with him, where we would change and go get one last 5 euro haircut. God bless the Pakis man. Where else can you get a damn good haircut for just 6 dollars? You can’t even get that with the GreatClips coupon that comes in the mail every once in a while…

I finally left Junior’s house to go to my last Mastos soccer game. “Masto” is slang for someone who is strong, and our team chant is “Más o menos?” “MASTOS!!!”, meaning “more or less?” “STRONG GUYS”. I love the irony of it. Based on my physical build, I definitely belong on the team. Anyways, a bunch of people came out to watch my last game. And although we lost 3-4, I had a great time. I scored two goals and gave the other assist. We probably would have won if our defense was disastrous enough to make this season’s FC Barcelona look good. After the game, we went to locker room, where all the guys gave me a typical Espaneesh send-off with a tunnel where they all slap the shit out of my neck. After we all got showered and changed, we headed out to the bar, where we would get super drunk in typical Espaneesh fashion: un copeo. I was really sad to say goodbye to all of my teammates and old school mates. I had a really hard time finding my group here in Spain, and I felt like I finally found it with Mastos.

My last weekend in Barcelona started with yet another hangover. Damn alcohol. I woke up around 11AM to the sound of my favorite Venezuelan. To my delight, I came out of my room to see Gabriel, who told me that he was to join us for family lunch. My host mom said that she wanted to make me a going-away lunch, which I had originally thought was going to be the four of us in the house. BUT to my surprise, Didi invited all of the boys over and Janet cooked SO much food. The food was delicious and the company was even better. After lunch, we all sat around and watched the Barça game. Of course, in true Barça fashion, they would have to lose on my last day, sad. What really made me happy, though, was that I really felt like my whole family was in the same room: Gabriel and Joaquin, the Americanos, Rober, Bruno, Edgar, Sam, and of course, JUNIOR and DIDI. With these guys, I had the same feeling of sadness, because they would make up my other group. From the very first day I got to Barcelona, they all took me in with open arms. Then later when my American friends got here, they would do so again.

After everyone got food in them, we walked up to Gabriel’s house where the pregame would begin. Well, the pregame for the pregame. You know, typical Espaneesh things. Cole bought a 5-liter keg of beer, which would end up empty in what seemed like no-time. After some hours of drinking, singing, and even simping, we headed down to bars in Marina. When we got down there, they didn’t want to let Rober and Bruno in because they weren’t vaccinated. With all my experience as a personal fixer, I decided that I had a solution for them. The problem was that you had to have your EU Covid passport and your ID to enter. They almost didn’t want to let us three Americans in the bar since our covid vaccine cards don’t scan, but I eventually convinced the guy to let us in after some explanation. That being said, he couldn’t track whether or not they already let us in. SO, I gave my covid card and my ID to Bruno, since with a mask he could MAYBE pass for me, and gave Rober Radek’s covid card (but not his ID). I instructed Rober to go in first, play stupid, and tell the bouncer in his best American accent that he left his Passport at home because it is dangerous to bring on the street. The bouncer reluctantly let him in without an ID. Then, Bruno was up next; he had it much easier because he had an ID and covid card with matching names. The bouncer gave him a bit of a hard time, but ultimately let him in. Mission accomplished. Moral of the story: the NO ENTIENDO works not just for me, but universally.

We ended up all getting super drunk because of the 1-euro shots and 5-euro cubalitros. We went from bar to bar, dancing, drinking, meeting up with more friends, and playing billiards. I found a piece of plywood outside on the street that I smuggled into one of the bars. We ended up naming him Plank, after the character from Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Later, I also found a mop and used it to sink one of the balls in Billiards. The original plan was to go pregame at the bars and then head to the club, but we ended up staying at the bars until 3AM, when I realized that I was drunk and tired enough to head home satisfied. For whatever reason, everyone wanted to do a foot race from the bar to the metro. I ended up dusting everyone. While waiting for a friend outside the metro station, I found that I had my toothbrush in the inside pocket of my denim jacket. So naturally, I took it out and started brushing my teeth. I ended up making a bunch of homies after the one guy jumped next to me for a picture LOL. Radek was the next person to get to the metro, and since I was impatient we ended up catching the metro just to two of us. It seemed kind of poetic, since the first time I went to Marina on this trip was with him.

Sunday was an extremely emotional day for me. I spent the morning at the Bernales house, where I would eat my last lunch. I cried when I left their house. From there, I went to Rosario’s to say goodbye to her. I cried when I left her house. Me and Radek then went to Decathlon one last time to buy a gift for Junior and a couple of bufs. After that, I went home and got all of my stuff together. People started showing up slowly by slowly, and by the time it was time for me to head down to the train station, I had 8 people to accompany me. I cried as we left the house. When I got to the train station, I had to say goodbye to 8 of the poeple that I love the most. I was sobbing by the time I got down the line to Junior. The train ride was a rough one, to say the least. The only silver lining that I had was that I would get to see Arane in Madrid in 3 hours :))))