A few words from our new editor, Anna Cherry
“I like to eat it,” he said.
“Them,” I said.
“I like to eat them. I am very fast.”
“I don’t have that much coordination. I always put a lot in my mouth and then end up swallowing all of it.” We were sitting on a bench in a courtyard where he sometimes got drunk with his friends.
“I don’t put them all in my mouth.” He looked me in the eyes.
“The shell is too hard,” I offered. The sun was showing less. Our legs were almost touching.
“I like the shell.”
“Do you eat them whole?” I tried to keep my voice even.
“No, I eat the inside. But I like to—” he touched his mouth “—taste it. Before I open it and eat the inside. I like to taste the shell.”
Luis, a tall, twenty-five-year-old madrileño architect, was the only person who would hang out with me outside of my apartment during my first couple of weeks living in Madrid—and he was paying me. I could hardly believe my luck.
I felt alone. I needed to figure out what living with three Spanish-speaking men meant for my life and how I might boil my Diva cup in our kitchen. I was spending a lot of time reading Tender is the Night at the public library near my piso and pretending to date my student as I held him captive long after the hours allocated for our lessons. Against the barren backdrop of my existence, Luis’s explanation for things like why he ate sunflower seeds (to pace himself while drinking), his explanations for anything really, bloomed. Our private classes were the highlight of my week.
This voidness characterized September, even though one of my best friends—a girl from Minnesota I’d met a few years before while studying abroad in Granada and lived with the previous year in Huelva—arrived midway through the month and incidentally found a place just down the street from me. We hadn’t started work yet; euros and outside connections were few. I filled her inbox with messages like, “I am lonesome. Noodles?”
If my first month living in Madrid was desolate, my last was a landscape of excess. Four weeks scrambling to soak up a city where I’d only just begun to find my niche, thanks to a writers’ group that led me to ¡Vaya Madrid! and the closest friends I would make that year. Countless midnight cañas and patatas with vegan queso and cake preceded by Retiro walks and chased with Sala BarCo dancing. This punctuated by private lessons, like the ones I gave to a thirteen-year-old pianist who loved horror movies and Paris. Our classes felt more like schoolyard chats and we often raptly discussed song lyrics after watching music videos. My time in Madrid was coming to an end. I played her “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire, which I explained was about disillusionment and alienation.
A few days ago I Skyped with my Minnesotan friend, who’s since relocated to L.A. While in Spain, she loved picking on the country more than anyone I knew. But she tells me that she and her boyfriend are getting back to España ASAP; they just don’t feel right where they are. “Imagine having all of the stuff there is to do in Madrid, but spread out over like twenty times the space,” she says. “That’s what people do here. They stay in their apartments, get in their cars and drive places.”
Of course, places are what we make them. But Madrid especially suggests community. (I remember the time I turned the corner from my apartment with plans for a quiet evening, only to walk straight into a crowd of people gathered before a stage blasting live music; within fifteen minutes I’d run into my roommate and a guy who’d approached me once on the metro to go salsa dancing.) Places are also the people who inhabit them, the new perspectives they offer. ¡Vaya Madrid! is a place that can reignite and direct discovery and connection for our Madrid readers. Or even for me, all the way out in the suburbs.
Editor, ¡Vaya Madrid!