In some ways it was as if we'd never left.
The hot rubber smell of Recoletos station, the soggy milk-sweetened bread that appears every year before Easter, the cloud of smoke billowing into my face as I walk down the street. The easy Hola, qué tals and Bueno, ciao, hasta luegos. Late nights that turn into later nights, made sweeter by good friendship, ties that bind. And a second (third?) glass of vino tinto never hurts.
I forgot how nice it was to know exactly how to greet strangers, acquaintances, and friends with two kisses, a beso on the right, another on the left. No guessing, no questions asked. The Known and the Unknown brought into an immediate closeness foreign to the Anglo world.
White beans melt into my tongue, broth-softened chorizo crumbles between my teeth, and a two hour, three course lunch can't get much better. Except when it costs 9 euros a person.
I chat away in Spanish, never entirely sure of myself but still pleased that I can have this much of a conversation in a foreign language. (Because if you could only hear my German. I mean, my "German.")
A giant bird crosses the impossibly bright, clear blue sky, and I marvel at how such a lanky creature somehow manages to be so stately.
Persianas rumble up, up, up, up the window, and I know it's morning.
Warm coffee, fresh-pressed juice, and hot churros with chocolate sit between me and the man I love. We remember what it was like when I was here, he was there, some four thousand miles between us. I remember choking down tears at the airport, long goodbyes. (Wait, who am I kidding? I was sobbing and snotting. Yes, that's more like it.)
And then we remember last year, smiles on our faces, when we sat beside each other in Plaza Cervantes, watching the sun set and walking home hand in hand.
And we look to what is next, looking forward to the good things that lie ahead. To holding hands and exploring another city together. It may not be Spain (or Germany), and there may not be churros, but we know it will be special.
But one day, we hope to sit at a marble-topped cafe table, coffee, churros, and chocolate between us again, and to marvel at the good things our good God has done, and is doing. And will do.