It is 2am. I get off the metro and ascend the steps into Plaza Tirso de Molina. The flower stalls are still there; the vibrant blooms taking on sepia tones under the light-polluted night sky. I marvel that people are selling flowers at this hour. And as I exit the plaza, I remember that I am alone in this city, completely alone. My mother would murder me for walking home alone at this hour; kill me before any of the countless rapists and murderers she imagines are lurking around every corner could assail me. But still, I walk alone.
This city, where I can breathe and be true to myself, is starting to haunt me. One afternoon, I imagine that I see my old best friend across the metro station on the opposite platform. But she is a mother now, living back in her native Italy. I am here, with plenty of acquaintances, a couple of good, old friends, and too much independence. Nothing anchors me; last time I had the blonde Italian and the Mancunian redhead on either side of me. But they are gone now, along with any remnants of our friendship. Now I drift through this city, remembering good times that will never be again, because I have changed, grown. My old anchors have sailed on other ships. The situation is different.
There is still that wild-fire inside of me: the need to party until the sun rises; to not be confined by medieval walls; to have endless options. I am half Irish, and that fire will never be extinguished. We O’Donnells live life until we die. Old age and cancer never stopped any of my legendary aunts from drinking brandy and dancing the night away into their seventies, or cultivating plants at high temperatures until the reaper came along. I guess we make our own rules and live by them.
But now, despite its endless possibilities, my past time in Madrid haunts me. The fire still burns inside me, but it no longer burns in Madrid. Unemployment and poverty stalk the streets, the good times left not long after myself and my former anchors. Now, the world whispers the promise of new adventures to me. I need to go somewhere completely new; somewhere without memories lurking around corners, reminding me that I am alone here. I want an un-lived adventure; to make new memories. Maybe this time the boy from the north will live them with me.
One thing is certain, however; adventure keeps me alive.