This post is so hard to write.
I know that I have some experience in writing hard posts, but this is a different kind of hard. Because although I have endured pain in the past year, there is unique, exquisite ache that comes with nostalgia, which is really the heart of this post.
Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”
I keep writing words and then deleting them. There is no good place to start. So let me try to start with a song.
If you read this blog, you probably think that I am sponsored by Brett Dennen with all that I write. I am not. He is, however, my favorite musical artist. A lot of that is because I am enamored with his music and person–he is as generous as he is talented–but I also have an incredibly positive and palpable association with Brett Dennen, one that I haven’t shared before.
If you have been reading here for a long time, you know that a main character in my life is Twin. If you are new and do not know about Twin, you can catch up very easily; but if wading through old posts isn’t your thing, all you need to know is that Twin is my other half, she lives in another state, and I met her when we lived across the world. I will explain more in a bit.
First, let me get back to Brett, because talking about Twin gets me all tongue (finger) tied.
Back on November 20, 2011 we, sadly, drove Twin and her husband, Go Go, to the airport after a fabulous weekend visit in Philadelphia. As we pulled up to their terminal, my ears caught the song that was playing on the radio, on xpn and I was able to remember enough lyrics to type them into Google and I found out that this song I heard was actually called Sydney (I’ll Come Running) by a singer with whom I was not familiar; Brett Dennen.
When I got home, I listened to the song on repeat and looked up the lyrics. I was amazed to see that the song was about being there for a friend, and that this friend is someone for whom you would do anything in the world;
And if you ever need me, call me
I’ll come runnin’ straight to you
Straight from the airport
(I’ll come runnin’)
Cut through the customs line
(I’ll come runnin’)
Bust down the courthouse doors
(I’ll come runnin’)
Sydney, I will testify
(I’ll come runnin’)
Sydney, I will testify
What an interesting coincidence it was that I heard this song as I was with girl for whom I would do anything, dropping her off at the airport.
And that is how my Brett Dennen Story began. But not my story with Twin. Twin’s story started long before that car ride. It started this week, ten years ago, in Barcelona, Spain.
It is our ten year anniversary of our time in Barca.
I left for Spain on New Year’s Day, 2005, spent the night of the 2nd with family friends in Madrid, and then flew to Barcelona on January 3rd.
I was given keys to my apartment, where I had been randomly assigned four roommates from all across the country.
When I arrived at 433 Avenida Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Apartmento 31B, I found that I was the last of the roommates to get there, yet somehow, my key was for the only single bedroom in the expansive apartment.
It is a little bit of a blur now, a mixture of emotion and time, but I know that I met the other girls and that Twin had already gone to the local grocery store and that she had a huge smile and a tight hug.
The month before, Twin and I had started emailing (or, to be more accurate, Facebook Messaging) because she realized that we shared the same birthday (hence our nickname).
It was winter break so I was sleeping at my parents’ house, on their old desktop downstairs, and I was so excited about my soon-to-be-roomie that I woke up my mom and said, “Guess what? My roommate and I are messaging and we have the same birthday! And she’s from Boston! And she is SO nice!”
My mom, lucid, despite being roused from slumber, said, “You two are going to be friends for the rest of your lives.”
Back to Barcelona. I have written about my time there before, and I will write again,
but I just needed to celebrate, or simply acknowledge the fact that it is our ten year anniversary.
Our building was (is) stunning. It has an epic marble staircase and an old fashioned elevator and our apartment was surrounded by other apartments occupied by study abroad kids. For the first few nights we spent time drinking wine out of the bottle as it was passed around the room of the boys who lived directly above us (which was legal for me as a 19 year old! Woo!) and having oh-so-European dinners that started past 10 o’clock.
I remember cab rides where I would have to sit on someone’s lap and have to duck down to avoid being fined for cramming five people into the car. I remember getting hit in the face by a huge beer glass that slipped off a server’s tray at a bar. I remember the big things, but also the tiny things, like finding one of those blue tins of assorted butter cookies at a shop around the corner. In a place that felt so new, it was nice to have a small piece of home.
But the real magic of those first few days was centered around the Three Kings celebration. I do not know a tremendous amount about this custom, so pardon me, but what I do know is that takes place after Christmas and New Years and is a festive time with parades and gift giving and vendors lining our street with booths lit with tiny white lights. It looked so enchanting.
And in thinking about those first few nights of my stay in Barcelona, I want to cry.
Twin and I talk in some way nearly every single day.
I can go downstairs right now and open any bottle of wine that I want.
Our next door neighbors are two of our best friends and we could easily have a wine night with them (though we typically don’t drink straight from the bottle. Okay. It happened once).
But there is something about that indescribable magic that I will never be able to put into words.
In the ten years since I have been home from Barcelona, Twin and I have seen each other a great many times in a handful of states.
She has held both of my babies.
I was the Matron of Honor in her wedding and she was a bridesmaid in mine.
We have shared luxurious hotel rooms and cozy dinners and dance parties and triumphs and defeats.
And we are bonded by so many things: Our values, our personalities, our similarities, our love of literature, our travels together, our care packages sent across the country dozens of times, our history…
But I think that one of the things that bonds us most, even after all of this time, is that we both know the thing that doesn’t have words. We know the magic. We know what it was like to walk down the street to the convenience store to purchase a bottle of rosé on an avenue that was illuminated by strands of glowing bulbs.
Barcelona brought me a great many things. The tangible things, like the bottle of nail polish and Burberry scarf that I still have from El Corte Ingles and the strawberry print bathing suit from Blanco. And the intangibles; I became fluent in Spanish. I learned how to be more independent. I traveled across Europe (and even flew in the cockpit of a flight from Barca to Venice during landing).
But more than anything, it brought to me the girl
who is now a woman
who is my Twin.
One night, I believe it was towards the beginning-middle of our stay, she and I had a heart to heart in her bedroom that lasted hours. And it was then that I realized that we weren’t just Twins because we share a birthday or have similar features; more than that we have similar stories and similar hearts.
We have grown up together.
When Twin and Go Go got married in August of 2013, I was so honored to be the one standing next to her, holding her bouquet and making their toast. My daughter was the flower girl, my parents were guests, and it was one of the most special weekends of my life.
But one thing that sticks out to me is that during a lull in the dancing portion of the party, as a course was being served, Twin had gotten the DJ to surprise us by playing “Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” and though the rest of the dance floor was empty, we gathered and danced in a circle, my daughter leading the pack.
Whenever you feel unhappy
All you have to do is call me
I can make you laugh
Whenever you think you need me
call me up and I’ll come running
straight to you.
Happy 10 years. To my memories. To my city. And, most of all, to my sister, mi gemela,