So, I’m three weeks into my adventure. I have had food poisoning, sinusitis and two migraines. I have learnt enough Spanish to order my morning’s Acai bowl. I’ve read 3.5 books, written one poem, consumed all of my four month supply of berocca, drank a lot of cerveza, made a solid group of friends and fallen in (and possibly back out of) love.
The problem with being a writer is that all experiences, be they boring, banal, or barmy, are viewed under the lens of ‘copy’. ‘Ah,’ I think, as I organise my first Tinder date of Sevilla, ‘this will be good copy’.
In fact, although emigration and travel often allude to escapism and an individual wanting to run away from their current situation, and though this I can’t deny entirely, in my case, I was running to something.
My health played a large role in my decision to move away, and from that I wished to run. But so too did my desire to experience more. The previous few months, my life felt painfully ‘lacklustre’. I was left wanting. I craved both solitude and excitement and moving to Sevilla has been just that.
I’m my own woman here. Mornings are spent eating, reading and lounging in the sun, lunchtime and evening follow similar suit with the added haze of cheap cerveza.
Relationships grow quickly when you travel alone. You rely on the company, generosity and knowledge of new compadres to a great extent. Six days in and my housemate was cleaning my vomit from the floor and helping me to bed (infection not alcohol induced). I only hope that he understood that the pile of pooh in the hallway was the dog’s (also sick) and not mine. I do have some dignity.
And speaking of relationships blossoming quickly, here enters Carlo, my Italian, aforementioned Tinder date. We match (the prelude to meeting) the first week of my arrival. I cancel a few times (tut tut, Brigid) and we finally agree to meet Wednesday, 10 days after I set camp in Sevilla.
It’s Tuesday evening and Carlo sends a text; ‘Do you like black and white movies?’. Trying not to display my ignorance, I reply ‘I LOVE Casablanca!’ (which I studied for Leaving Cert. English). I’m in luck. ‘Great!’, Carlo replies, ‘I’m going to a movie by the same director tonight. You should join’. Ninety minutes later I am standing in a flowing yellow skirt outside an unmarked garage waiting for my date.
I like him straight away.
The video is projected on the garage wall with subtitles in Spanish. There’s a beer cooler in the corner with bottles one euro a pop. There’s a hum of tobacco and weed in the air and the movie is occasionally interrupted by residents wheeling their bikes through the garage. The lead actor kisses his wife. The beginning of a great love story, I think…
Carlo suggests a members-only bar. Not really my scene, but I reluctantly agree. And TG for an Irish girl’s placidity!
Bikes hung from the roof in the bar. (You can take the girl out of Cycling Ireland but…). As I described the bar to a friend the next day, I typed ‘It was a members-only bar full of smirking hipsters’ and while I had incorrectly typed ‘smirking rather than smoking, my typo was just as apt.
The playlist was robbed from Camden Street’s Whelan’s with the addition of The Beatles ‘Obladi, Oblada’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’. The hum of smoke in the previous joint (pun intended) was a smack in this spot. We made friends. We bought drinks for our friends. They bought drinks for us. ‘Smokes’ were shared. Carlo stood up to dance and sing alone. I fell in love.
The next day we went basil plant shopping together. Our first pet, I think.
We buy gym equipment, we share dessert, I correct his CV. ‘I don’t really like to drink during the day,’ I tell him. ‘They have orange wine here,’ he says. ‘Dos copas?’, I wink. We make friends, we set up a Whatsapp group, he meets my brothers, we buy a six month shared bike pass together.
Carlo’s plan to leave Sevilla before the end of May becomes ‘before the end of August’. I think of our future life in Sicily and the novel-cum-memoir I will write.
‘I’ve been dating an Italian’, I tell my Dad, ‘he’s really nice’. ‘That sounds lovely’ my Dad says, ‘ It must be recent’. ‘Not that recent,’ I reply. ‘But you’ve only been there two and a half weeks…?’ ‘Oh yeah, I met him last week…’
Alas, all things that go up, must come down. My Italian is moody. He is sitting on the couch and we are waiting for friends to arrive. I’ve made food. He has brought beer and strawberries. He’s not feeling well and he’s not happy about it. He wants to be mothered and I can’t ignore the Italian mamma – son stereotype ringing in my ears. I make him sweet tea and tell him to sleep. He sits in silence until my friends arrive.
It’s too soon for you not to keep up the happy façade, I think, quietly pissed off. We’re 10 days in and that bike pass is on my debit card.
So, I’m not sure what will come of our romance, or my time in Sevilla but the point is, it’s all good copy.