Like Sandpipers

1393063_10202159719614422_1466039990_nRecently, I’ve walked new American arrivals through my city, sharing the stories of these cobblestone streets.

I tell them the names of the various shopkeepers, speaking of Dani, Ramon, and Manolo, with a casual, but studied familiarity. We walk along the paseo, and share glasses of cerveza at a table near the shoreline. The sun filters through the clouds, and the sandpipers scuttle through the surf. I close my eyes, and I am home.

And yet? I am struck by a few realities, both positive and negative. I have lost some of the wonder that my new friends carry with them, in their smiles, in the light in their eyes. They are swimming in the glorious novelty of this land. Everything, from a glass of sangria to the blue-tiled doorways, is exotic, lovely, and fresh.

When my cousin visited this summer, he would periodically nudge his wife and say, “We’re in Spain!” And for the first six months that we lived here, I wiped the sleep from my eyes, and entered another living dream. We’re in Spain!  It was simply extraordinary.

I’m not saying that it is anything less than lovely now, but one cannot maintain a constant state of awe. A year in, we have traded weekend treks to pueblo blancos for coffee on the back porch. Occasionally, I’ll dwell more on the litter on the street, not the blooming carpet of bougainvillea cascading over Carmen’s patio.

I’m human, you could argue. Or jaded, my guilty conscience counters.

Seeing the joy in my new friends is a gift. It reminds me that when building a life,  you have to fight through the ephemera. Reclaim that wonder.

I use my words and my camera, and stolen little moments, and I try.

Because in enough tomorrows, I will have to say goodbye. And I will close my eyes, and think of those sandpipers, dancing in the foamy surf, as the tides press towards eternity.

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