It’s 3 pm and I should really be reading about Galileo Galilei for next week’s tutorial or perusing some fourteenth-century documents for the first chapter of my thesis; instead, I’m at a café near the library having just finished lunch (!) and now enjoying an nice espresso with a bit of hot milk with a tiny cookie, just large enough to add subtle contrast to the coffee. I’ve been in a classroom since 9 AM jumping from tutorial to tutorial and my eyes can’t really focus on a written page right now. This week was harder for me than for the students in many way. They had no reading to do for this week’s tutorial. I, on the other hand, had read and comment their proposals for the final essay – which they handed in last week – and then come up with handouts and design a workshop on how to research and write a proper history essay. Hopefully, some of them will take what I said at heart or will at least take a look at the handouts I distributed.
But enough of my babbling about work, after all, this is the wrong blog for that. I meant to talk about Barcelona and Toronto.
All this sitting-around-in-cafes-sipping-espressos-and-having-lunch-at-two-o’clock business reminded me of the life I had in Barcelona. It was nice. I woke up around 7 every morning, got ready, and Alan and I would leave the apartment around 8-8:30 and stop at the bar at the corner of our street to have coffee (picture beside) and often a small bocadillo, a cheese or cold cut sandwich served in a thin baguette bread, with some olive oil and tomato. Some days I would go to the gym before hitting the archives and in those days we would leave the house around 6:30 and have our coffee at a bakery near the gym. In both places – the bar and the bakery – we became one of the regulars pretty quickly and we never even had to order our coffees. At the bar, Kiko and Paco always knew what kind of coffee we preferred and had them ready by the time we sat down at the bar
I would make it to the archives around 9:00-9:30 and would work until around 1 pm or so. In the summer, when the archives closed at 2, I would have a short break around 11 for a coffee and not really stop for lunch but during the rest of the year, I’d take my hour lunch break at a nearby bakery. I’d leave the archives around 5:30 or so, Alan and I would have dinner shortly after I got home and we would then go out for a bit of a stroll around Gracia. In the summer we would stop for the best gelatto in town, in the winter we would go for coffee or a hot chocolate. On weekends we would either meet friends for ten-hour lunches, go to the beach, go hiking, or simply check out some nearby town. We were always meeting friends for endless chats.
I don’t know what it is. I like my life in Canada, I’m busy, I have lots of good friends, we go out frequently, but I often miss our Barcelona life. Maybe it was the nearly perfect weather that kept our spirits up. Maybe it was the fact that although we were busy, life seemed to go on at a slightly slower pace. Also, doing different things every weekend made us feel like somehow our life was more meaningful.
But I also think I’m in that phase after you move from one country to another in which you romanticize the life you left behind and forget the negative things. I don’t really remember now how uncomfortable I felt reading all the negative press about immigration and the way immigrants were perceived, how hard and how long my friends had to work to earn very modest salaries, the bureaucracy that often made daily life complicated, how disconnected I felt to my department here in Toronto…
But nothing like a few days there over Christmas to make me feel refreshed again. Can’t wait!!!