Valencia. A city that has one of the busiest seaports in Europe. A city that is a storehouse of energy. A city so warm that it compensates for living in a country with an almost-perennial winter. A city that basks in the happiness of being kissed by the Mediterranean everyday. A city that offers the best Paella and Tapas in the whole world. A city where people are loud, pleasantly unruly often, that reminds of home. A city that is Spanish in every way possible. A city that needs a separate blog-post of her own. And a city with brief and not-so-brief moments of solitude scattered around.
When I first arrived here a couple of months ago for my research stay, I was reminded of a starry-eyed three-years-younger me who had just arrived in a new country where people spoke in a strange language. It reminded me of the first night that I had to sleep alone in a small apartment and the exponentially-increasing heartrate, of the infinite nights spent crying out of homesickness and loneliness, of the innumerable embarrassing incidents experienced on account of not understanding the language, of the niceness of people around, of all the rights and wrongs done along the way, and of growing up. While all these past experiences have definitely helped in coping with this all-over-again newness, it has also made me realise one very important aspect of life that I have most often overlooked.
Learning to ski on the Alps or swim for the first time in the wavy Mediterranean waters are perfect definitions of testosterone-fueled activities as far as I am concerned. But I wonder if it would have been the same had there been no one to dismiss their own interests and patiently and persistently teach me the sports that day. Would it have been less scary that Friday night on a lonesome train station with drunken men around if there was no one to virtually give company the entire time? Would walking on the beach on a warm summer night with the wind ruffling the hair evoked the same emotions had there not been the perfect company to incessantly gossip with? Would ogling random French guys been as much fun if there wasn't anyone to share the naughtiness with? Or would it have been the same to try Tequila for the first time, without that look of concern displayed all across that particular onlooker's face?
There is hardly anything more satisfying than getting a chance to experience a new country, new people, and new ways of life. Staying in a big apartment with guy roommates that's still considered a taboo back home, enjoying conversations and hard liquor without caring about people, time or place, roaming around in shorts and tees and not being judged or stared at, and experiencing freedom, can be a hell lot of fun. However, nothing in the world can match up to the feeling of feeling absolutely lost and lonely on the first day of arrival in a new city and then being taken on a night-tour of the city by the still-new roommate. It is then that one realizes how much incomplete "independence" is without a companion :)