“They b*tch, they whine, they go shopping, and then they get more food,” Sarah said. “I’m quoting you on my blog!”And here it is. We were comparing our Saturday to the basic story line of Sex and the City. It was a day well spent with some of my girlfriends, and there is no one else I’d rather spend my weekends with. The silver lining of my recent heartbreak is realizing what an amazing, strong, supportive group of women I have become friends with while living in Spain! Living abroad alone makes me more vulnerable, and just plain out of my comfort zone all the time – even when I speak the language. When a challenge knocks me down, and there is an ocean between me and my mother, or I can’t easily schedule a Skype call with a friend from home because of time zones…well…things can easily turn painful, and next thing I know there are tears.
I walked inside The Toast, a beautiful café on Calle de Fernando el Catolico, 50, 28015 Madrid. It was a rainy Saturday morning, and I knew I had a somber look on my face. I hoped the coffee would help me lighten up for the sake of my friends. I was meeting classy Sarah, youthful Kristen, and soulful Simone for brunch. “How have you been?!” Simone asked. “I’m great!” I said. Because you always start these things off composed until everyone’s loose threads start to show.
We ordered coffee, French toasts, and a breakfast burrito. I highly, highly, highly, and more than anything, recommend you go to The Toast in the Chamberí neighborhood. Have their French Toast, and a friend to pour your heart to. It happened to be our 5th month anniversary in Spain (totally unplanned). “How have you girls changed since you got here?” I asked. “Mmm, deep question. I like it,” Kristen said. Answers varied, but the common factor was strength. We are strong. We have moved overseas on our own, felt lost and unsure, scared, and emotional – despite all the LIFE IS GREAT pictures you may see on our Facebook pages. But now we are here, half way through. Simone said, “The first two months dragged, and then it was like —>” (insert fast motion with finger gesture). The french toasts arrived, and with them our feelings. We began to open up about our romantic lives in Madrid. There was a time a few weeks ago that I felt so alone in this city. Sarah recalled her thoughts when this kind of loneliness creeps in, “My life is a meaningless black hole!” I laughed when she said this, hearing the absurdity of my own thoughts in her words. “These guys are crazy; I would marry all of you!” exclaimed Simone, who could not fathom why we would ever feel insecure. It was at The Toast, surrounded by independent, wild, and free women that I felt the foundation beneath my feet. The world isn’t falling apart…It only feels like it is.
Satisfied, and with the negative things out of our system, we headed to the Mercado de Motores off Delicias metro stop on Line 3. I know that El Rastro in La Latina is a popular tourist experience in Madrid. I have not been to El Rastro yet, but the girls referred to the Mercado de Motores as a more polished, put together version. Shopping in Madrid is fabulous! You take your pick, walking down Gran Via, or Calle de Fuencarral. Off the Goya metro stop there are countless stores as well. But, of all shopping options, I would place Mercado de Motores on top of the list. It is located inside the first train station, and you can partake of the free tour. You have a wide variety of artisan, handmade products ranging from clothes and jewelry, to home décor, and the most beautiful bread I have ever seen. Wine and beer jelly, pillows, honey, soap, floppy hats, and unique rings.
To conclude the lovely day, we had lunch a Café de la Luz on Calle del Barco near Gran Via. Now, THIS, is the kind of place you can come to just for the coffee. Fancy, strong, and a little too sweet, you will have multiple options in this cozy, dim-lit location.
I have been spending extra time exploring different places with my friends. Madrid is filled with options when it comes to bars, restaurants, cute café spots, and friendly people. It might be worth mentioning that most of my friends here (at least the closest ones) are Americans, who are also teaching English in public schools. When I first arrived here, I thought this was a disadvantage. In terms of cultural immersion, it might be (though I still get to have fun with Spaniards!). However, these are the open souls I get to have inspiring, motivating, life changing conversations with regularly. These American women, I am lucky to call my friends, have unique qualities that make them the most interesting people I’ve ever met. They are fearless, go-getters, spontaneous, adventurous, truthful, soulful, brilliant women, mastering the art of living.
So raise your glass to these free spirits, full of Girl Power and Love:
LIFE. Our lives in Spain, intertwined overseas. Over-fear, over-heartache, over-self-doubt, over smallness. We are living the great, adventurous lives the great novels emulate.
To your open hearts, and your will to live!