On leaving Spain

a belated farewell from 1 June

I’m sitting in the Sevilla airport all alone. It’s 7:40 in the morning, and possibly my favorite time to fly. Watching planes take off the runway from wide windows, it is peaceful and quiet. Although I woke up in my apartment this morning, I will fall asleep in Prague, Czech Republic. This is the beginning of a 2 week trip in Eastern Europe that I have been planning for months. Fifteen days from now I’ll be back in the United States having breakfast with my dad, reading with my mom, playing with my friend’s new babies and eating as much American food as I can handle.

Monday was my last day at school and it was a good one. I stopped by to see my 1ESO students and they were beside themselves. What do you do when 32 eleven year olds chant your name like a soccer cheer and bang on their desks with their little palms? Me – I laugh. I have enjoyed that class so much this year, and laughing is what we do best. Several days ago they locked me out of the classroom so they could set up a surprise inside. Every student had made a letter or painted one on a shirt and they lined up to spell out: “Kelly We Will Never Forget You ❤ !!” How awesome is that?

I had my last official class with 2ESO and when I came down the hall one of my students was loitering outside the door. I’m thinking no way did he get kicked out already when he sees me and bolts back inside, slamming the door behind him. Suspicious! Sure enough when I open the door the room is dark – until someone turns on the lights and my students leap out from under their desks yelling “SURPRISE!” A Sponge Bob piñata hangs from the ceiling and the board is covered with “no te vaya” and “We ❤ Kelly.” They are beside themselves about the surprise and the enormous basket of candy they have to give me – the ultimate gift from 12 year olds!

In most of my goodbyes I’ve said “see you soon” – which will be true if I come to Madrid in the fall. So no tears and no sadness, just a sense of .. I’ll be back in a little while. The same goes for friends here from the US – some of us are taking the same end of term trip and will cross paths in foreign cities. Some of us will meet up in the States over the summer, and a few more will reunite in Spain in the coming year.

Walking through the city last night on my way home from the final Final despedida, I take a look around and realize that I love Sevilla. The orange trees and the cobblestones, the Cathedral and my barrio. This comes as no surprise given my long term love affair with Spain and particularly, the South (ya sabes, soy del sur). They have finally opened the garden in Puerta de Jerez and I wonder what it will look like when everything is in bloom. Is that when you know you are truly part of a place – when you consider its future?

It doesn’t feel like goodbye when I shut my apartment door and haul my belongings out into the elevator. It still doesn’t feel like goodbye when my friend drops me off at the airport. Here in the waiting area I’m more concerned with the cute guy a few rows away than I am with the fact that my year in Spain has come to an end. For this reason I am certain that it is “see you soon” and not “goodbye forever.” Spain could not get rid of me if it tried.

Un beso desde Sevilla International,


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