Over the last year, I have ruminated about time throughout the course of this blog–the presence of time, the passage of it, and when it comes to life in Spain….the manner in which people choose to spend it. We all know that time is such a precious commodity, and Spaniards seem to have as good a grasp on this as anyone. After living here for nearly a year, my sense is thatthey value their time beyond their jobs or any material possessions one might accrue in a lifetime. Time and friends and family, in and of themselves, are the real barometers of wealth to Spaniards, and that’s pretty impressive.
However, when it comes to time, another thing we have learned this year is that things take time–at least things that matter, things that are worth obtaining. This is certainly the case when it comes to friendships, and even more so when it comes to friendships with Spanish people in a city as steeped in tradition as Granada. And while a year is a long time to detach yourself from your job, family, and your home, it is an incredibly short time when it comes to integrating and immersing into another culture, learning a new language, and creating a genuine sense of community. Our time in Granada has been incredibly sweet, but it’s only in these waning end days of the year that we have really begun to feel like we have started forging real friendships that may have staying power.
This isn’t really surprising, but I think it’s worth noting that building strong relationships and building them in a place like Andalucía takes a bit of patience. Granada is a city that is very used to having visitors from all over the world, but people in Granada aren’t quick to invite you into their homes, family, or inner circle. That is a trust that must be earned and earned over time.
Jackson came home from school last week and said, “I think if we stayed here, eventually we wouldn’t be seen as outsiders and foreigners. It’s starting to change a little bit.” Some of this is due to more group projects this spring and forced academic interactions. Jackson just worked on a re-creation of the Segovia Aqueduct and Cassius’ street cred seems to have escalated with a Spanish rap he wrote and recently performed for his class. He also has a friend who speaks the universal language of superheroes and Jackson has garnered the interest of the Bachillerato boys who are getting set to head off to college. After many months of functioning primarily on the periphery, they are beginning to be invited into the inner circles. It hasn’t been easy, and it takes patience and poise.
Karen and I have had a similar experience. We have moved through the streets of Granada from cafes to Padel tennis courts to gardens and are constantly meeting people. We know all the guys who work at the Thai restaurant across the street, the grocery checkers at the mercados, and people at the fruit stands probably better than anyone. But we don’t really know them, as there are limitations to these cursory relationships throughout the course of each day. We have the most connectivity with some of the families from Jackson’s futbol team, but it is only in the last months that those relationships have begun to evolve into something more profound–lovely as the families have been. This is, of course, in part due to language limitations but also just because it takes time to integrate into another culture. It’s been special and a little sad that, in some ways, the beginning has arrived at the end. But isn’t life just like that?
As we wrap up our final days in Granada, we have some budding friendships with Spanish families we very much hope to maintain. The people in Granada are selective. They don’t accept just anyone, and they don’t accept anyone instantly. In ruminating on this subject, I can’t help but think of those old adages that Rome wasn’t built in a day or anything worth doing is worth doing right or that the best things in life are worth the wait. Of course, these cliched, antiquated phrases that have become part of our lexicon go against every fiber of our instant gratification, social media driven, modern universe. But perhaps, in this case, the old days were on to something.
Last weekend, Jackson’s futbol team had their team party to conclude the season or temporada as they say. Karen and Cassius were not able to attend, but the parents embraced me fully–taking the time to make sure I ate every authentic Andalusian delicacy they had brought to the party. I sunk my teeth into Blood Sausage, tasted the rich flavor of Salmorejo, and drank rum from Granada and Alhambra beer. It was a great day, spent with great food and great people. It took a while to get there, but then again, don’t most things that are worth their weight.