Monday, 12:02AM. Not Barcelona Sants this time. This week starts in Madrid Atocha. After a very emotional last week, I arrived in Madrid after a long train ride of so much crying that I actually gave up trying to hide it from my neighbors. The silver lining was that when I got off of the cathartic train ride, I would have one of my favorite people in the world waiting for me. This time, Arane actually got to the train station on time. And when I say on time, I mean on time. And I mean on time for me, because for me, on time is 15 minutes early, while for her it is 15 late. Once I arrived, we headed straight back to her house to eat dinner and go to sleep because she had to wake up at 6AM for work the next day. Of course, we ended up talking and joking until four in the morning, meaning poor Arane would only get 2 hours of sleep for her 7 hour day of work. Luckily, she didn’t hardly have any patients.

Meanwhile, I woke up at a 9AM to meet Francisco one last time for coffee. Francisco met me at his favorite breakfast place and treated me to a delicious Iberian ham and brie sandwich, freshly-squeezed orange juice, and two delightful cups of coffee. After lunch, he took me to see his apartment. I’m not really sure what I was expecting to see in his apartment, but I was amazed to see all of things that he had acquired over the course of his life. He had some of the models and equipment from his old architecture studios, all kinds of exotic things from all over the world, pictures with the king of Spain, and enough designer clothes to dress Tom Ford himself. It was honestly an honor for me to be welcomed into his home, because I felt like I was able to see Francisco’s entire life. Francisco accompanied me downstairs to say goodbye to me. I cried when I said goodbye to him. I didn’t anticipate it, but he told me “I hope that I am still around the next time you come to Madrid”. It really is a curious thing how when people grow old, they no longer fear saying those kinds of things, saying them so casually, but the younger people that you say it to cannot fathom it. I suppose that is something that I will only understand when the time comes.

When Arane got home from work, we ate lunch and headed out to this view that she found on Tiktok for the sunset and to exchange parting gifts that we prepared for each other. This view was so cool because it wasn’t really that known, it had a spectacular view of the sun setting behind the four towers, and we had to climb a billboard and walk along a wall to get there. We sat and talked until the sun down, then went home for dinner before turning around and heading out to see all of the Christmas lights around Madrid. Madrid’s lights are hands-down way better than Barcelona’s. They had most of the main streets completely lit up with lights of all different colors. Christmas Spirit was definitely in the air. When we got home, we put on Christmas music and (exhaustedly) helped her mom put up the Christmas tree. After finishing up the Christmas tree, the three of us sat down on the couch to watch a cheesy, rom-com Christmas movie. On this particular occasion, the movie was Holidate. Arane got about 5 minutes into the movie before falling asleep, and by the time the movie was over, it was something like 3AM.

We woke up at 10AM and went down to get some churros and chocolate for breakfast. After eating, caffeinating, and cursing the worker at the churro joint for not throwing in any extra churros for free, only putting exactly the 12 that we payed for, we got up and headed out to run some errands. It was a really disgusting, foggy day. It was the kind of thick moist fog that all of a sudden engulfs you in San Francisco. We stopped by some stores to shop and make some returns on our way to the ice skating rink that was set up in Colón. Unfortunately, by the time we got down to the ice skating rink, we didn’t have enough time to skate before my covid test appointment. So we opted to go to El Corte Ingles to buy an ornament and a book for Arane’s mom (who is really like my mom at this point). I wanted to give her something, since she lives her entire life to give to others: her patients, her family, and the people like me that are lucky enough to receive her love.

After a quick pit stop at home, we headed to the covid test site. Right when I got there, the woman asked me if I was part of the big group of young people that just tested positive for covid DOWNSTAIRS. I told her no, but I became very, very reluctant to touch anything in the office after that. Man, I hate doctors offices. The woman that did my test was super nice, joking around with me as she took the test. She then told me that I could wait around 15 minutes for the results or go home and receive them by email in an hour. Paranoiacally wanting to get the hell of there, I told her that I’d like to go home despite her being super nice LOL. I knew I would test negative, because I hadn’t had any symptoms and hadn’t come in contact with anyone sick, plus I think she saw that the purpose of my test was “travel” and so she barely stuck the thing in my nose at all. I think even if I had covid, it wouldn’t have shown up LOL.

On the way home, we stopped by good old Aldi to get a couple of steaks to make one last steggs before I went home. The steaks at Aldi are super good quality, about 9 ounces, and only cost 5 euros. I can make two plates of steggs for less than ONE order of graveyard steggs at South Point. After our steggs, we packed a backpack and took the car to this view outside of Madrid where you can see the planes take off. This is especially cool because Arane found this spot after I took her to watch the planes take off and land in Las Vegas, which was the last time she did something like that. On top of that, I brought my hammock with me and strapped it up when we got to the view. We brought snacks, beer, and lots and lots of layers with us. Although the view was super cool, the best part of the whole experience was the drive out there. Last year, Arane had a little accident in the car when trying to take the car out of the garage. In her defense, the garage is super tight, sloped, and the car is a manual. Now, she gets a little nervous driving. Luckily, she felt comfortable enough to take it the view. She took the car through Madrid and onto the highway, all going well below the speed limit. In fact, when we ended up on this long, two-lane road with a bunch of windy curves, Arane was going so slow and braking so much, that there had to be a line of like 10 cars tailgating her. A couple of them even illegally passed her on the road LOL. Then later when it started raining, I had to operate the windshield wipers for her. And finally when we got to the destination, I had to grab the steering wheel to correct her parking job. BUT, we ended up making it there and back, safely and with no problems.

When we got back from the view, we ended up staying in the parking garage for a little bit, blasting music and singing in the car, which is something that I missed doing with Arane since we used to do it every day in Las Vegas. When we got home we ate a typical Espaneesh dinner of croquetas and jamón ibérico, I signed the book that I bought Valle, and I re-packed my suitcase. Once I got everything ready-to-go for the morning, me and Arane stayed up until about 4AM hanging out and making the most of our last hours together.

7AM. The morning went something like: wake up, make a sandwich, brush my teeth, and get in the car. All of a sudden, I was saying goodbye to Valle, trying my best not to cry, but tearing up nonetheless. Valle has treated me like one of her own since the very first time I came to Madrid to visit them in February of 2016. At this point, she really is like a second mother. Luckily, I would get another hour and a half with Arane, since she bought a 10-euro plane ticket to Marseille so that she could enter the terminal with me. Unfortunately, since I was going to the US, I had to go through the passport control, which they wouldn’t let her through since she was traveling “domestically” (within the EU). So we found a bench to sit down and cry on until I really REALLY had to go. I ended up waiting until the very last minute and just BARELY made it to my flight (don’t tell my mom). I am so happy that the Spanish immigration officer didn’t give me a hard time, since it was literally my 90th day in Spain.

I don’t really know how to end this blog, but I want to just say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Spain. I was able to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, create a life for myself, grant my friends a unique experience, and most of all, thoroughly enjoy every day of my life and wake up happy every single day. I am thankful for all the crying that I have done over the past week, because it is a testament to all the love that I found as an Americanito in Barcelona.