Summer in Salamanca feels just as summer should. When you are a kid and you picture summer changing things, if only for the few months before you are trapped in a classroom again, that is what I feel is happened here. The dry heat makes for lovely walks in the shade, and coffees under the stretched umbrellas that crowd the pedestrian boulevards in this tourist town. Air conditioning is pretty rare, so all the windows are open catching the cool breezes. Normally, the population here is students and elderly, with a scattering of tourist groups and young families. In the month of August, however, all the students have gone home. I haven’t seen as many elderly, and I wonder if the heat has something to do with it. The dynamic here has changed. I have changed, as well, so perhaps I am noticing new things. There is a woman who lives in my building who sings opera. Fresh from a visit home and thawed from the long winter, I find myself wondering about her in ways I was too tired to think about before. What does she look like? How old is she? Would she want to be my friend? Does she have a dog I could play with? There are several tenants with dogs, and I want to play with all of them. The voice that echoes in our marbled staircase has me curious. What does this next year in Salamanca look like? What stories will I gather (and hopefully be more disciplined about posting)? Why do all my cakes burn on top and stay gooey in the middle (I adjusted for altitude this time)? Who will I meet and become friends or just acquaintances with? I don’t know, but I will soak up the sunlight and warmth while it is given to me.
I live in a beautiful city. I enjoy the pace of Salamanca, and its grand edifices. But I don’t love it. Not yet, anyway. I’m still a stranger here. This place is not my home. Recently though, Salamanca gave me a housewarming gift anyway.
I got horribly lost.
In the wee hours of the morning.
When nobody was around to watch me wander.
The facts of how I ended up being lost at such an absurd time really aren’t important, rather the city itself and me lost in it was something I needed.
As I strolled, I avoided the noise of people, taking advantage of my lonely walk. I took turns here and there, trying to head in the general direction of my apartment, but with no true efficiency. I had no where I had to be so I took my time along the streets. They are confined by sheer, high walls with lanterns mounted 12 feet up which cast the world in shadows and yellow light. Around each corner architectural feats of eras past loom. I found many new paths and plazas to possibly get lost in again sometime. But this time, I was able to begin to see how I could love this place. For the first time, I didn’t feel like a stranger looking in. I felt like Salamanca was shifting her walkways, helping me be lost on purpose. I spent an hour walking around alone, passing only the occasional street cleaner. Perhaps Salamanca could be part of my life, not just the people, but the city. I could have a place unrelated to my friendships here. This could become home.