by Rebeca, Tufts 1+4 Participant
Every week night I take a ten-minute walk from the Paco de Lucia metro station to my home after work. The air is crisp and cold; it is late at night so there are only a few people coming out of the metro. My walk begins with a stretch of uphill; to my left is a cement wall which ends where an incline with bushes and vines begins. To the right is a road where the occasional car or bus heading to plaza de Castilla passes by. Also to the right, once I am higher up on the incline, I can see the dimly lit apartments against the dark blue sky. Beyond these I can see the lights of the buildings in the distance, and above the metro exit the occasional train passes by with a loud blow of its whistle. After the incline, I continue walking on a straight road past the Mercadona, a large supermarket, followed by a vibrant street with restaurants on one side and apartments on the other. Even though my walk home is usually between 10 and 11 pm, there are always people sitting outside eating and talking. I pass by waiters and people walking their dogs (there are so many dogs where I live). I hear the chatter coming from the people eating and cars passing by; on occasion one of the workers and I exchange a good night. This peaceful residential area I call home is a welcomed respite from the stress and hustle of the day. Once I arrive to the gate to enter my apartment complex, I wave to the doorman who always lets me in.
Last Thursday, on the way up that incline, I stopped and turned back to look at those lights in the distance, at the apartment buildings towering above against the night sky. It occurred to me that I would miss this scenery when I got home, even though my late-night walks were more like slightly tired trudges. When I got home I would miss the fresh air, the feeling of independence, the lights, the color of the sky. So, I stood for a bit and made sure I truly appreciated the moment I was in and how fortunate I was to be in that small part of the world. How lucky am I to be in such a beautiful city, with such freedom and so many exciting opportunities? I can learn, I can meet new people, I can explore, I can walk anywhere (or take the metro). In that moment, I was hit with the want to do and see everything. Although that is impossible, I have a new motivation to take advantage of every moment and to appreciate even normal, everyday things. I do not know why I ended up here and not in some other corner of our planet, but I hope to make the most of my time here. Thinking about how I will look back on these nine months in June encourages me to always take in my surroundings, to reflect, to make every second count, and to make my own fun. Although I have problems that seem big now, if I look around me and realize how big the world is, I see that life is good. I am truly lucky to be alive.