Lessons from Madrid

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I leave Madrid in less than 48 hours. In some ways, it feels like I have only just arrived. But I made the decision to leave all the ghosts of memories behind, just before a hedonistic week of new memories was created. Oh well….

I have learnt new lessons in Madrid, as well as revising old ones. The first (which I only discovered a couple of weeks ago) is that people are not as disposable as one dark shadow once led me to believe.  From first going to university, I have discovered that it is always possible to make new friends; sometimes life-long ones. However, I have since realised that it is not always the making of friends that is difficult, but maintaining those friendships. For example, there are some friends who miss you as much as you miss them. People whose group is incomplete without you; people whose jokes and flaws and intimacy you need around you on a weekly basis.

I have also learnt that there are some friendships that ignite quickly, appear to burn on a low heat over time and distance, but never burn at full flame again, even when you are reunited in the same country.

And some friendships, the intense ones that are concentrated on shared experiences and distance from a different life, only last as long as the shared experiences do; even when you try to prolong them. There has to be mutual effort. Accepting the end of these friendships can be heart-breaking. It is like being dumped by a lover without being told why; or even without being told at all.

And that brings me to a revised lesson, or at least a proverb that someone wise told me a few years back: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. The trick is recognising which category they fall into.” I know that the gods have smiled on me because I have several friends who I can count in the ‘lifetime” box. These are friends you can return to without seeing for years and easily pick up where you left off; friends who have seen the best and worst of you and still message you to breathe the same air and expel it in laughter with them. That is not to under-value the reason and season friends; without them, you wouldn’t get by in foreign cities with new jobs and arrogant locals. But the trick is letting these friends go without sadness or resentment when the reason or season has passed. And that is a lesson I still need to revise.

So, with sadness I leave Madrid, again. But new adventures await. Life is for living and the world is my playground.

The wise one I mentioned is my little sister.

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