I just finished the last paper I will ever write for college (well, for my B.A. anyway). My flatmate is turning it in for me tomorrow morning because I'm heading to Malaga to catch a flight to Barcelona and pick up my mum at the airport. It will be so nice to get out of Ubeda. I love it here, but I definitely need some space from many of my classmates.
And hell, I am so overdue for a haircut it is embarassing, but the last haircut was a disaster. Hopefully Mum and I can find a good barbershop in Barcelona. I wanted to cut it before Mum got here but at least maybe it will look better for graduation.
I am a little stressed about graduation and all of what that means. School is almost over and I haven't seen most of my family for at least 18 months. I haven't seen my friends in Seattle for almost 3 and all of a sudden I am going to be surrounded by everyone I love and everyone who loves me. Which will be good, but also a little stressful.
My laundry is almost dry and I've got some packing to do for Barcelona!
A thunderstorm started yesterday and it is lasting up through today. It is hailing right now and I am sick but I can't walk home because I forgot to bring my sweater to school. (Don't worry, Mom, I am loading up on vitamins).
Not much going on here other than a thunderstorm. We're all finishing up our final projects and getting ready for class to end on Friday. The group here has been pretty overwhelming for the school and a lot of the younger students from Evergreen have caused a lot of trouble. We're afraid that the relationship with Abadat and Evergreen might be ruined and another class won't be welcome here. I've already thought about coming back on my own when I have enough money. I'm going to talk with the directors tomorrow (who are also my professors) and ask if that would be possible. I think it will be fine -- they know who is causing trouble and who isn't.
Okay, paper time.
It was a really good time and afterwards the owners of the local queer bar bought me a drink and fed me some good food. The two owners kissed my cheeks and I gave them carnations. It was good to feel included in this small community that they have built here.
My mom is coming in a week. I am trying to plan out our trip. I´m thinking Almeria or Cadiz for four days and then back up to Barcelona. It is hard to believe all of this trip is coming to an end soon. So much to do, so much to do.
I have made some great friends on this trip. I´ve learned so much about myself and the ways I am capable of interacting with people. I´ve made friends here that I hope I will keep for a long time which has been a pleasant surprise. At the same time, I very much miss my friends back home. Andrew, Shae, and Louise who have known me for 7 or 8 years now! I sometimes sit and think about all the changes I have gone through in the past few years and am completely amazed and grateful for the friends who have stood by and supported me through all of this.
I really miss sitting with Porter and Nitehawk and being allowed to just sit and be quiet if need be or laugh or be angry and all of that be okay. And really, I feel a little guilty about saying this, but I miss the kids most of all. I miss Rian wrapping her little arms around my neck for comfort and Iris telling me about all the new things in her life. My first couple of weeks in Spain I was dreaming about Rian almost every night. This is the longest I have been away from her since she was born and it is much harder than I anticipated.
So maybe I am finally feeling a little homesick. I miss the family and life I have built in Seattle but at the same time I am sad to know that the community we have built here in Spain will dissolve after we all go home. Well, I am relieved about some of it. Lots of mixed feelings, I guess.
Tonight I went to a local flamenco concert put on by a bunch of young kids. It was really amazing. I totally stuck out like a sore thumb, but the folks here are friendly and excited to see foreigners interested in their culture. I tend to get stared at wherever I go, but I've learned that if I just say hi, folks actually want to talk to me. They are just as nervous as I am about approaching me. I've met so many cool people.
Francisco, my favorite friend in Ubeda, left today to study in Linares. It hit me as I was hugging him goodbye that I will probably never see him again. He put his hand on the back of my neck and said, "if you come back here, I promise you always have family." I threw him another hug and headed back home feeling really sad about having to say goodbye.
I've also become pretty close with some people that I traveled here with. I am going to miss the kind of community we've built here and I am already aching to travel with some of them again in the future. Especially my flatmates. This has been a pretty big learning experience when it comes to hanging out with and forming friendships with people that I don't usually form friendships with in the US. It is different and good and sometimes hard but completely worth it.
On Thursday Paloma and I are heading to Jaen to attend a regional homophobia and transphobia workshop. I am nervous about my spanish, but I am really excited at the possibility of meeting other guys like me and learning more about queer experiences in Spain. I am going to invite my professor (the one who traveled here with us from Evergreen) because I know she's really interested in queer culture here too. Plus, she's just a really cool lady to hang out with.
Also, I have been making a list of foods I want to eat as soon as I return to the US.
1. Mac & Cheese
2. Burger from Dick's
3. Indian food
4. Ethiopian food
5. Mac & Cheese
Also, I never want to eat ham again.
Only 2 more weeks of class and then my mom will be here. We´re going to take off for Portugal for a few days and then I need to come back to present my ethonography project.
My bartender Antoñio gave me my first ¨man to man¨ talk the other day about not having sex until marriage, working hard in school, getting a good job, and then settling down. He was a little drunk, and then told me that I should not have sex before marriage, but if I do, I should definitely never, ever sleep with whores. Uh. But by his definition, if they are sleeping with me before marriage, then, well, you get the idea. He´s a crazy old guy the age of my grandpa and I´m pretty sure if I knew him anywhere else, I might not like him. But his wife feeds me free food and he tells crazy old jokes and I find the two of them pretty endearing.
My flatmates and I moved our mattresses out onto our back balcony this weekend and have been sleeping out there every night. We fall asleep to the sounds of the bats beeping and wake up the birds cooing and the sun beating down our bodies and I have a hard time even thinking about going home. It is finally warming up here, and just in the last few days I´ve got some color on my skin.
This weekend Paloma, Danielle, and I are heading to Almeria to spend some time on the beach. I haven´t seen the ocean since somewhere between Barcelona and Valencia which was something like 6 weeks ago. Time flies and goes slowly. It is a strange feeling.
I talked one of my bartenders into coming over to my house and cutting my hair. She did a terrible job, but I'm not sure what else I can expect from an amateur cutting my hair for free using only my spanglish directions. I took her out for a couple of beers afterwards and then ran home to fix my hair after I dropped her off at her place.
The people here have been very welcoming. I've made a ton of new friends who have all been very helpful with learning spanish. The culture of men here is so different than the United States. Men are much more physically affectionate with one another than with women. It is not uncommon for one of my male friends to reach over and place his hand on the back of my neck or touch my stomach as we talk. It makes me think a lot about my own transition to male in the United States and how I have been much more aware of personal space and affection with other men. But here, all I have learned about being a man in the United States is being thrown out the window. I prefer it here -- the closeness I feel and comraderie is so different.
Another interesting fact: my name is pronounced much differently here. In Spain, my name is pronounced Elias or Iliya. Mi profesora told me that it is an honor in Spain to be named Elias and it feels nice to be walking down in the square and hear one of my new friends yell out, "Elias, Elias!"
School is going well, but there was some drama with the group and the school. Some people were upset about the scheduling and other things. I felt a little embarassed by some of my classmates. I'm not sure if everyone is adjusting well to the cultural differences and understanding that this country is very, very different than the one we come from. The United States is extremely individualistic compared to Spain. The cultural here is much more about sharing everything and looking outside of yourself and recognizing group needs rather than individual needs. It is one of the things I value most about this place. It makes me ashamed of my own culture and the wastefulness that happens there.
Okay, I've rambled enough and should probably go prepare for the evening's events. Hope everyone is well.