I’m in Spain, buying too many books in Castellano, drinking too much coffee (and wine and sidra and vermut and…), and really allowing myself to indulge in play. Lunch at 4 with wine? Sure. Gluten? Dairy? Pile ’em on top of each other and send them my way.
In terms of a more healthy type of play, yesterday I acquired a bicycle from the generous owner of La Bicicleta Cycling Cafe & Workspace, which I can borrow until I leave in 5 days.
I realized I had never biked in Madrid before—and I lived here for almost a year. I’m excited to combine my passions in a way I never have before—in this case, being in a world brimming with my favorite other language, and of exploring that world by bike.
Bicycling creates a flow, an ease, a rooted nugget of pleasure inside of me that can cancel out the negative outcomes of unexpected diversions. And in Spain, there are many: restaurants not opening when they say they will, losing something (my laptop sleeve now lives in Barcelona), machines eating your credit card at the train station then shutting down completely, clearly satisfied to have a siesta after eating your delicious only way of paying for things. Sigh.
But when I’m metida in one of my favorite cafés—Pepe Botella—that I’ve spent so many hours of my Spanish life in, new book in one hand, un café con leche de soja, largo de café in the other (why is my coffee order the longest possible coffee order?), I feel pretty blissed out.
One of these is Rosa Montero’s “Estampas Bostonianas y Otros Viajes” (Boston Postage Stamps and Other Trips), a book of travel essays from around the world. I opened to a random page in the middle and found the following fascinating passage:
Los norteamericanos utilizan la palabra “retired” para referirse a los jubilados. Es decir, “retirado.” Apartado de la actividad, del centro de las cosas. Y nosotros, en cambio, utilizamos la palabra “jubilado,” que viene de júbilo, de alegría. Es una concepción de la vida completamente diferente.
What that means is this: In English we use the word “retired” to refer to people who are no longer working, generally (but not always) because of age. Retire = not active, away from center of activity. On the other hand, in Spanish, the word is “jubilado,” which comes from “júbilo.” Jubilation. Happiness.
It’s a completely different concept of aging, of living. It means that discovery, joy, fulfillment, and pleasure can be possible no matter where you are in life.
I can’t wait to be jubilated. In fact, I’m going to go be jubilant right now.