Madrid, Spain

As a child there were very few times I can recall being apart from my mother. Big shocker, I’m a momma’s boy! Who would have guessed it? Seriously though I wasn’t left much choice, my mother was phenomenal and my father was absent to say the least. My mother was raising me when she was still finishing college and she felt it important to emphasis education as a priority. It was the, “actions speak louder than words” method because unlike so many other young single mothers, she didn’t drop out.  As a part of my mother’s curriculum she had an opportunity to study abroad. Not many young women in my mothers position had a chance to travel overseas and she battled with the decision fiercely. Finally my grandmother talked her into taking the trip and leaving me with my grandparents. My grandma was sure that the more my mother saw, experienced, and learned the better she would become at raising a fine young man. I guess amazing mothers just run in our family because I’m pretty sure my grandmother was right. With the support of our family and a new resolve my mother was off to Spain.

I was very young so I don’t remember much of our time apart. My mother on the other hand, said it was heart breaking for her to leave her baby boy. Heart breaking not in any way I would consider earth shattering, but in little details only a mother would notice. She said that when she got back I no longer addressed her as mommy but mom, this apparently was the signs of her little boy slipping away. Like I said, I don’t remember much of our time apart but I do remember a childhood full of stories. Stories of art, culture, food, nightlife, history, and all the things my mother cherished about Spain. She talked of her host family as being the kindest, sweetest, most hospitable people, and she said the rest of the citizens were much like them. She talked of late night dancing in the streets, eating fresh fruit from the markets, and learning about buildings and art that were older than our whole country. I had heard about Spain so much sometimes I envisioned being their myself. I started to try to learn as much spanish as I possibly could, and I often rolled my r’s for no reason. I didn’t question my mothers love for Spain, in fact I shared it. Any place that made my mother light up and smile was pretty much heaven on earth to me. I had to go and experience it for myself.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8cc6

March 4th, 2018 I took a nine and a half hour flight from Dallas, Texas to Madrid, Spain with my best friend. Bare with me for a moment, I think we all have those uncles at the family reunion who know us, tell us how they used to hold us as a babies, hug us too tight, and tell us random details of our whole lives, but we have no idea who they are? I would say that would be my relationship with Spain. I had heard about this place for so long, dreamed about it, but we were truly strangers. I was that creepy uncle that loved Spain so much but wasn’t really knowledgable about who or what Spain was today. If you know me than it’s not hard to imagine that my first agenda was getting acquainted with the food, food is pretty much my first langauge. I stopped in any local restaurant that looked promising and indulged in tapas and wine until it was hard to breath. La Bruta bar and restaurant was a personal favorite, just a local spot around the corner from our hotel. The waiter actually sat down and engaged in conversation with us, telling us all the spots we should try to hit. I think Tatel was the most extravagant dinner we had, there was a violinist playing modern-day hits, you could see the meat being carved in the open kitchen, the food was superb, the establishment art deco, and the vibe was electric. I could not find one thing wrong with any of the spanish food.

However, the history was beyond my comprehension. The Royal Palace was remarkable and inside there were objects that were older than anything I could imagine. The palace was built-in the mid 1700’s for King Philip V. As astonishing as everything was I don’t envy the king, it can’t be healthy for anyone to be treated as a God. The only way for me to describe the palace would be holy. Some rooms consisted of nothing but porcelain, and all the art was hand done and divine. I can’t imagine how that disconnects you from the other souls who live amongst you.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1ca5

The people really do make the place though. We met tons of new people, all who were happy to speak english, and even happier to laugh at our spanish. Puerta del Sol was always the meetings spot and we often spent time just sitting there people watching. Everyone was friendly but I was more surprised at how calm and relaxed they all were. In the states I feel like we rarely leave our house without a destination and deadline. Everyone in the square just seemed happy to let the day go on and make the most out of whatever was to come.  Grand Via was another of my favorite spots, and my new spanish friends where eager to take me there for luxury shopping, entertainment, and nightclubs. I actually purchased one of my favorite Gucci shirts at the establishment. We would stay out until night ran into day and our legs were tired and clothes were drenched from dancing. Some days I woke up at 2pm with no shame, glad I was there for about two weeks. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1c15

Honestly the list could go on and on, churros at San Gines only rivaled by churros at Mercado San Miguel. I don’t like beer, but you couldn’t tell when I was at the bar terrace on the rooftops of Plaza de la Cebada. I had fallen in love with Spain all over again, but this time from my own experiences. Also, even though I was far from my mother I felt closer to her somehow. I was a little older than she was when she traveled to Spain but everything I remember her telling me she loved, I loved. It was a home I had never been too before and would visit many times there after. For anyone who has never been I highly recommend.

R.K. Russell