Monday, July 31, 2006

My July

(I’m about to write a post that, if I weren’t me, would make me hate me. Nonetheless, I’ll proceed.)

I am tired. July has called my wanderlust bluff. You want to travel? July sneered. Fine—let’s see you travel. I went to Paris for three days; London for two days; Krakow for five days; and Rome for three days. That’s four countries, not counting Spain, where I’m based, or the U.S., where I am right now. Counting those, July has seen me in six countries, maneuvering in four different currencies and saying “hello” and “thank-you” in five different languages (six, if you count Catalan). The day I returned to Barcelona from Krakow, I had three different currencies in my wallet: euro, zloty, and pound. Buying a pack of gum at the airport proved to be an awkward juggling of coins.

Writing this, I see that it’s a bit insane.

Now, I’ve skipped town again—but this time, back to the United States. It’s my first trip home since coming to Barcelona, and I’m undeniably excited to be here. For the next two weeks, I’ll be in Jacksonville, FL, with Andrew’s family; then on to Connellsville to my family. In all, I’ll be Stateside for just over five weeks.

During these five weeks, my big plans include sitting in air-conditioning, shopping at Target, ordering books from Amazon, cooking meals in a fully-stocked, functioning kitchen, and renting and watching DVDs. These are not exciting things, but I am excited about them, because they are the essence of the American-y things we cannot do here. First, Andrew’s computer crashed several weeks ago, rendering useless our only means of watching DVDs. We have a TV here, but European DVD players won’t play American DVDs, so it’s pointless to buy one since all we really want to do is watch recorded episodes of 24 and seasons of Arrested Development. Buying English-language books here is incredibly expensive, and buying from Amazon.uk—an option—means we have to pay for everything in pounds—doubling the price in dollars. And we do not have a Target, or air-conditioning. The closest thing to Target is El Corte Ingles, where I nearly paid 7 euros for nail-polish remover last time I shopped there. The best place for AC is the metro.

These are all small things; but they are comfortable things, which, perhaps surprisingly, we do miss. We have nothing to complain about, living in Europe, traveling frequently (perhaps too much so), living, for the most part, outside of arduous responsibilities. We have it pretty good here, to understate things a bit. Rather, this is a kind of reverse-vacation-planning: these are the things I want to do when I’m no longer away from home, when I take a short leave from this extended vacation, my own Grand Tour.

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