The Day of the Eucalyptus

A deep sadness seeps into my bones. The Camino is coming to an end. This adventure—as with so many trips—has passed by too quickly; I have not yet begun to absorb it all.

A cloud of cigarette smoke wafts through the air: the ephemeral taking on a physical form. Gallego (Galician) starts and stops abruptly, pausing in odd places, bursting with an irregular cadence, yet familiar like déjà-vu: bits and pieces slipping, distant and nebulous memories, reminiscent of times from long ago, past lives, Portuguese echoing against the walls, Portuguese reflected in the mirror, writings on the wall, but here we look and do not see—Gallego is a different beast. Thoughts resound, metaphorical trumpets blare; am I a different person than when I started?

I have traveled to France; all across northern Spain; to Iceland; Ireland; Belgium; to NYC and back to Spain; a day in both Germany and Portugal; I have learned about web design and been sucked into the allure of the digital world; I have refreshed my knowledge of French and regained my excitement and energy and enthusiasm for teaching. I have grown tremendously, personally and—this coming year—professionally, I imagine. I have felt at times that my Spanish was close to native and, a few hours later, that I was a beginning student. I have processed my life up to this point in a matter of weeks, recalling distant and close memories in a sort of verbal-vomit cleanse, purifying and cleansing my soul for this next phase of my life.

The Spanish sun begins to beat down on the sidewalk, a relentless, constant force of nature, harsh and yet beautiful; God’s wrath suddenly makes sense. The air is dry, still. I seek stillness and it arrives, invisible like the heat. I close the French patio glass doors to keep the heat out, the cool in. There will always be the daily Camino to walk, but I am glad to be here, living it, breathing it, being, just being. Life is a beautiful work of art, a white canvas of possibilities—brush, paints, and instructions not included. What will you paint today? Suddenly excited and unsure: Santiago!