I should preface with this: My job as a freelance medical writer, while perfect much of the time, letting me work at home and see my kids a lot, sometimes involves a feeling of despair when travel abroad is imminent. This might sound ridiculous or phony. Yeah right, you don’t like going to Europe. But it’s true. In the hours before leaving for the airport to go abroad, I often have this intense longing to remain at home with family and very much do not want to go. Part of it is that I’ll miss everyone. Part of it is the uncertainty of traveling abroad alone and the extra seriousness and stress and difficulty and urgency of it all should something go wrong (for instance, my commuter train hit and killed someone on the way to the Miami airport this week, so we sat on the tracks 3 hours and I missed my flight, delaying my trip a day, and I barely arrived in Madrid in time for work.)
But it can be a love-hate, mindfuck of a job, because there are also days like today: finishing work at a rheumatology conference around midday, feeling desperate for a nap and being able to take one, having a lunch of chocolate churros and café con leche, heading to the metro, marveling at how efficient and beautiful and easy the Madrid metro system is, walking by a lake in Retiro Park, being shocked and extremely happy that there were so many people walking around outside by choice even though it was 99 degrees, being amazed again that it really is true that the humidity makes all the difference because 99 degrees in Florida practically makes you feel like you’re encased in cement and dulls the mind in a way that this dry 99 degrees clearly does not, finding a shady tree in Retiro Park and laughing some more as I finished Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, taking the metro one stop then walking to a restaurant for paella that was probably pretty close to perfect although I’m no expert, drinking a half bottle of good Spanish red wine by myself while reading a commentary on the book, getting buzzed, happily interpreting the waiters’ indifference to me as respect for my wish to be left alone and content, rather than just plain indifference and poor service which is probably what it really was but even that wouldn’t have mattered because the food was so damn delicious, walking back to the metro marveling at how there’s still sunlight well past 10 pm in Madrid in the summer, marveling that the 1% on my shitty iPhone battery was still letting me listen to music as I left the Goya metro stop, passed through the Lista stop, then arrived at my stop, Diego de Leon, knowing I’ll be getting on a plane the next morning to go back home and see my family who will be so happy I’m back, the nice guy at the hotel desk saying ‘hola’ to me as I came in and me saying ‘hola’ back, feeling like yeah, I can pretty much hang with the Spanish-speakers, and feeling so freakishly lucky that the 1% had lasted a full 15 minutes running Spotify before dying right at the moment when I hit the up button at the elevator.