I really can’t tell you why. I have never lived here. I have no roots from this region. There really is nothing in my family history that links me to this place, yet the Spanish Basque Country is one of my favorite places on earth.
Is it the sea breeze? Is it the endless mountains that surround me? Is it the weather that is constantly keeping us on our toes, making us dress for the cold and having us taking off layers slowly throughout the day? I think this place reminds me of home… or whatever that means I suppose. The coffee after our midday meals, the late nights not keeping track of time, getting lost in forests to find the ocean on the other side, the Spanish language and filling ourselves with good food, I just seem to be quite content here. Yes, I know, there is also the Basque language, which the only thing I really know how to say is ¡agur! (goodbye).
I suppose this place feels like home because what I always considered as “my place” in the United States is Oregon, and here with the mountains, the hikes, and the ocean, it reminds me of the place I consider I grew up in. Maybe I am thinking this because my 7th anniversary of living in Paris is approaching, and I am realizing that the city of lights will be the place I have lived the longest in.
The first time I ever visited this region, I was ten years-old. It was also the first time I ever visited France. Maybe, when I am here, I feel like I have everything I need? Close enough to France that I don’t feel like I have left, and living within my Spanish roots while surrounded by some kind of reminder of my childhood state.
I don’t want to get into COVID territory, seeing that I think we are all exhausted from that conversation. It’s been mentally draining on all of us, in some way or another. I was lucky enough to allow myself to leave Paris behind for a bit and spend time with loved ones. To test the waters in visiting museums again and go to restaurants (though I do spend a majority of my time at home working seeing that I am not on vacation). There is a bit more freedom here, and though they’re questioning confinement here again in some form, like confining residents to their towns, I am happy to at least be in nature. I get to take long walks in the mountains and along the beach… I feel more active, something that was hard to keep up while living in Paris and curfew being at 6 p.m. (now it’s 7 p.m.). There is also a routine, having meals with my loved ones… something that I missed a lot in my lonely confinement.
Being in this region for the longest time I have ever visited has also allowed me to go to places I had never seen, like the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Getaria (the starting point from where the first man that sailed the globe set off from) and discovering new hiking trails.
I’ve also noticed that I am a person who, in times of emotional growth and evolution, likes to change my physical appearance. While being here, I have gotten bangs and gotten a nose piercing. I might potentially get a tattoo (trying to find an artist that I like). What else might happen while I am here?
I like my long walks in the countryside, getting lost for hours in my thoughts. It’s a sense of peace that though I have in Paris, is particularly different here.
It’s a Basque love affair.
Though I feel very much at home here, and I have been here for a month, I’ve been able to reflect so much on the past year. I appreciate the fact that I am able to call Paris my home, because it is the place I have been able to construct on my own and make such. COVID has made me appreciate the small things in life, the moments with loved ones, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to be able to escape to have this moment with them. I know we are all struggling with the length of this pandemic, and I can’t wait until I can fully hug my parents and my friends with no fear. Though this year has been difficult, it really has turned my world from gray to rosé, because I have been able to realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by the people I have in my life… and for that, I am grateful.
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