If you ever come to Madrid...

Yesterday was one of those days where I was unable to focus at work. The reports I was working on were a disaster. Tired, I decided to take a walk for a change.

A few blocks away from my office, I casually met an old friend from the university. I haven’t see him in years, ever since we graduate and life turned out to be complicated enough to worry about planning friends’ meetings.

We enthusiastically said hi to each other and started to catch up with out lives. “So what are you up to?” – He asked – “Well… you know… work…”- “You’re leaving, right?” – He asked all of the sudden, without warning. I stayed quiet for a few seconds, planning my answer – “That’s the plan” – I said – “But…”- I quickly talked about my grad-school-abroad’ plans while carrying a sad look on my face because I have no heard back from the universities I applied to. He replied with his plans: he’s getting married in a few months and next moving to Spain to pursue a Master’s degree – “If I get in and also get a scholarship” – and try some luck.

Son of an immigrant, he recalled his family’ history: “My dad came here when he was 24 years old, with the idea of moving back in five years or less. But then Tito stayed there for longer. Much longer than that. So he had to stay here. Same will happen to us. That’s how things are” – He assured, with great sorrow. He looked up and asked me next – “Have you considered Spain?” – “Spain its expensive in my field… but I’m considering all options…” – “You should, we must leave” – He put a special accent in that “must” (well, in that “tenemos que”) and looked at me right in the eyes like saying “please save yourself, do not stay here”

Next, we complained about the latest shortages and how due to one reason or another (but all reasons have the government to blame); we are in risk of losing our jobs here – in case we stay.

“Best of luck with your plans” – He wished to me as his duties were calling him back to the office - “If you ever come to Madrid, make sure you pay me a visit. You know you’ll have a house there, with doors wide open for you now” – I have “houses” everywhere: Germany, Mexico, Brasil, Australia, Belgium, even Russia and at several US’ cities. I have “houses” in many places I might visit in the future, or I might not. For sure, I will happily trade all my “stay- for – free- when – you – travel” options for having the people I care about geographically close to me.

I thanked his offer. We said good bye, take care, say hi to your boyfriend/girlfriend. He waved and smile. I put his silhouette and of all our common friends who already left; back in our university days, in the halls, at the meetings. All the parties, trips and dances. All the dreams we had back then. They’re all gone.

We walked in opposite directions. I was walking back to my work place – and my horrible reports – I got the feeling that I will never see him again.