Returning to Canberra from the Easter break has brought me back to Earth with a thump. On my first day back at work on Tuesday last week, I found myself dreading the moment I’d walk through the doors. There are specific aspects of my job I enjoy, and numerous aspects I do not. Lurking in the background has been the disappointment of Spain and the subsequent return to Canberra, and I’m certain this particular element will linger with me for some time yet. I often find myself wishing I could go back to Spain. There I felt the scent of a future. There I felt alive.
In my early years of high school, my parents took us all on a driving holiday to New Zealand. Back then, we didn’t have much access to photographic equipment, and so there are far fewer visual cues to my memory. Nonetheless, I still have numerous memories of the place, though few of them are particularly strong. If I spend some time meditating about the time we spent there, the memories become more numerous, but none of them really become any clearer than a faded photograph. All I see are moments frozen in time, the before and after of each lost to the past.
I’ve not really had much chance to review my photos from Spain beyond a very crude display I put together for my aunt Ruth. Soon though, I will, as the shutterbug component of my site nears completion and I have to start sorting my images into galleries. It will force me to revisit the massive collection of images I gathered during my time there, and in truth, I expect it to be quite a depressing experience, as it will undoubtedly drive home the realisation that the Spanish window of opportunity has almost certainly closed.
Shortly before Easter, I embarked on one last major effort to gain employment in Spain, sending out several dozen applications, hoping against the odds that I’d get a nibble. The Easter break, and the opportunity to think and gain some perspective, has brought me to the conclusion that if nothing comes of this round, it’s time to move on and accept the reality that I’ll probably never return there unless I go as a self-funded tourist or retiree.
Since coming back, not a day has gone by where I’ve not thought about the place and wished I was back there, and I find myself remembering an email Mum sent me to console my disappointment after being offered a job, then having it withdrawn. She told me of her first major trip to the British Isles, and how she often returns in her mind, to the special places she visited there. I too, have that problem, often imagining myself walking down Recoletos to the Colón Metro, Banco de España to Sol, or along Serrano to El Corte Inglés. I remember the recordings calling out the stations of the Barcelona and Madrid Metros, such as San Bernardo (where I took Spanish classes), and Poblé Sec and my mind drifts, unable to focus.
Sometimes I find it hard to believe I was ever there—thinking that perhaps I dreamt it. Quite often, my memories of the brief life I had there feel like they are fading in the ways my memories of New Zealand have done. It’s odd how, now that I’m back in Canberra, essentially starting over again, I think back to when I first arrived here intent that in six months, I’d save the funds I required to travel South America for 2-3 years. At the time, the plan seemed a massive undertaking, and I remember wishing I could relive earlier moments in my life when things seemed much simpler.
Now I find myself wanting to relive that period, when Canberra was new and my job was reasonably enjoyable (by comparison to where I am now), and everything was ahead of me. Oddly, this time around, everything is still ahead of me, but I feel I’ve been planning to go travelling for years.