This past weekend, I went into Boston for the day with my boyfriend. I love Boston. I can honestly say it is one of my favorite cities in the world, although I am partial to San Francisco, Seville, Barcelona, and Budapest. If I had to pick, Seville and Budapest are the top two favorite cities I have ever visited. They are each romantic, enchanting, and fascinating in their own ways. Seville hooked me with soft whites and bright oranges, worn tiles beneath feet and quiet mosaic corners with secrets. You could just imagine falling in love with someone in Seville.
Budapest is a harsher place, with a history that I found to be more painful, although both cities have their fair share of grief built into the buildings. It was also a story of hope and beauty and two worlds colliding, the old and the new married by a bridge across a river with a hill nearby that saw it all. Europe is simply breathtaking, and I think about it often, despite it being nearly two years since I last left the United States.
But God — every time I get in a subway, I am transported back to Barcelona when I was twenty (AAH that will be four years ago next month, how has this happened!) and entirely lost in myself.
I found someone in the streets and metros of that lively city, someone who wasn’t afraid of taking the wrong turn or saying the awkward thing. I missed so many classes because of getting miserably lost in Barcelona.
I learned more than I did in 3.5 semesters of college in the U.S.
This weekend, I walked down the steps of the Boston subway station. The Red Line. As I stood on the underground train and felt it move, I heard the voice I hear every single time I get in a subway.
Proxima estación. Catalunya.
Next stop. Catalunya. It rips through my chest every time I hear it, because I also hear the voices of my friends who live in different time zones, and I taste the paella from that place off Portal de l’Àngel, and I remember reading Bible passages in Spanish on a rooftop looking at stars over the Mediterranean.
I remember walking to Ciutadella and never not being excited by palm trees. I remember that I paid 30 euro for a pair of boots that I still wear today. I get compliments on them every time. Is that because they are great shoes, or because I am a brighter person when I wear the boots I bought for Switzerland?
I remember the Arc de Triomf, the sister to the one in Paris. It was only three blocks from my apartment and when I was lost, if I found that damn arc, I knew I was going to make it.
When I stepped into the dim Boston subway, the train moved unsteady and I rocked with memories of a home I haven’t visited in four years. It is not that I am unhappy now. In fact, I am amazed with how wonderful my life has turned out. No complaints here.
It is odd, though, isn’t it? To hear a voice every time you get in a subway. Some things about my time abroad have faded blurry, like the names of certain streets or bars we used to frequent.
But that voice in the metro is clear as a bell every single time.