Going To Barcelona

It’s two AM, my alarm is set for three AM. It’s weirdly quiet in my room and I’m trying to decide whether or not to try to get one more hour of sleep or give it up as a lost cause.

I’m leaving for Barcelona in the morning. My flight leaves at nine, so I’m planning to get to LAX at six. (Did you know that the ’x’ doesn’t stand for anything? The LA airport just needed a longer name.) Los Angeles is far away and full of traffic, so we have to leave at four. It is all very early. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep on the plane.

I’ll be in Barcelona for three months taking classes as a study abroad student. For a while “I’m going to Barcelona” has just been a thing I say to make. conversation. It’s been a useful topic at Thanksgiving and Christmas, weddings, with old classmates I never really talked to, with uber. driver. It’s felt like more of an idea that takes up conversational space than a real thing that was going to happen. It’s been a thing I say to myself to feel like I’m not wasting my time.

But now it’s a thing that’s actually happening and it feels surreal. I currently exist somewhere in that grey area between hyperventilating to death, freaking out, and literally jumping for joy.

I don’t yet know what living in Barcelona for three months will really mean for me. I don’t know what to expect. My parents both spent time in Europe during their salad days. They mention stories from their travels occasionally and they were thrilled when I brought up the possibility after I went to the informational meeting on a whim.

The obvious reasons to go were to get better at speaking Spanish and to get some traveling done; see some of the world. I’ve never been to Europe. I’m looking forward to seeing places where things happened; places with real history. I’ll be casually walking by buildings that have existed longer than my country.

Getting good at Spanish will be economically valuable. My time will be worth more than minimum wage if I get passably conversational. I’ll. have a whole new population whose ideas will be open to me. That should be something.

But there are other reasons for going. More vague, less clearly good. I want to get away. I want to throw a wrench in Routine. I want to force disruption and change on my life.

I’ve always lived at home. I skipped the whole dorm experience when I skipped the whole getting into debt for general education thing. It’s been nice to have my family around to take care of me and to clean up my messes. But maybe living here is keeping me in old habits and routines. Like making messes in the first place. I have no idea the kind of person I will be away from them. Will I inflate with confidence and independence? Or will I just float away: not belonging, not connected, lonely.

We’ve always lived in the same town. Every significant life event has happened within like ten square miles. I could actually see the location of my first kiss from the window of my first job, which I got seven years later. My elementary, middle and high school were all on the same street. I drive a whole 15 minutes in the opposite direction to get to my community college.

And my life has felt stagnant and monotonous, I’ve been going to community college for “too long”, my resume is not impressive, and I see the success of people around me and I feel a little left behind. I know I shouldn’t feel like that. Comparison is the thief of joy, you are where you are and so on. So in some ways i’m doing this to prove to myself and to others that I’m not left behind. I’m capable of going places. Literally at least.

I’m ready for change and discomfort and challenge. And really? three months is no time at all.

So yeah. Going to Barcelona. Let’s learn a language, see some places, and look for purpose and challenge. Wish me luck.