Today was rough. In fact, it is less like one day, not even two, but more like three.
I slept two hours before going to the beach, and felt rather exhausted when I did wake. Kaitlin and I went anyways, and it was ok, but the weather could have been better.
Then the coming back and the going away dinner and the despedidas to everybody I met in the program. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too sad about it all. Yet.
Later, I went to meet some of my other friends at a bar, then a club because the bar closed before I even got to it. On my walk, I heard some guys behind me talking, basically wondering where I was from. One seemed pretty confident that I was from here. Enough to actually ask me, “Eres Catalán?”. I replied yes, to see if I could go with it, but somehow they could tell right away by my pronunciation of “sí”. Oh well, it was worth a try.
Later, after some hard goodbyes and feeling like my whole life here is slowly being pulled away like a thread from my belly button until it is all gone and I am completely empty, ready to be refilled when the plane touches down in Cleveland, I realized something – I passed as Catalán. The last few weeks, people have been asking me the time, how the food is, directions once and a while, which side of the train to take. People think I fit in, people assume I know the language. I am not the blatant American, I no longer scream “speak English to this tourist”. I am, for the moment, Catalán. Jo estic català.
I have triumphed.
My mission, complete.
I can now go home rest assured that I have, without a doubt, reached my cultural experience here, and not just remained a long-term tourist. This was real. The friendships permanent, though soon-to-be long distant. Barcelona stays, but I will not, and that is just something that this place and I are just going to have to figure out and deal with.
Twenty-four hours to go. I want to be sedated. These words have never meant so much to me.
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