17 years ago today, age 24, I landed in Barajas a size 10 with 18% body fat and in good enough shape to go up 20 flights of stairs without having to pause or alter my breathing. I had to endure a long hard fight until I was able to stay in my home city permanently, but it was a fantastic feeling to finally be home. I had wanted to make it before I turned 25 and I did. Shame I didn’t know what would come next.
Looking forward to life in a place where the sun shone through the leaves of acacias onto cobblestone walks between fountains, where the food was brilliant even when it wasn’t very good, where people talked about all manner of things without embarrassment, where people were valued for who they were rather than what they owned and the belief in a right to a minimum wellbeing existed. I saw things through a rosy veil that persisted through hunger, despite humiliation, derision, marginalisation and envy.
Since then I’ve had a long list of jobs I hated with passion, a couple that were fun but didn’t pay enough to get by, and periods of unemployment that forced me to leave my precious Madrid for 4,5 years to the day. While exiled in the UK I worked so hard, so many hours, for so long, that today I don’t recognise myself and some days I can barely walk to the corner without nearly passing out from lack of breath. I was genuinely very lucky to get a job that allowed me to come back home, but as they say you can never go home.
Our society has evolved: to the point now the haves pretend the have-nots don’t have any right to have, where arguments have become so polarised that we might as well have gone back in time a century as moved forward at all, where social support is being eroded in an overt attempt to protect the wealth of a removed group of individuals, and people live in tents in the parks waiting for the masses of drunks to meander home so they can manage to sleep.
Apparently the only thing that keeps our society together anymore is sport, given the vast majority of citizens feel wholly disenfranchised. Of course, they don’t seem to take an interest in events until it’s too late and they certainly aren’t voting – so not sure how they don’t curl up in shame rather than complain…
Me, I’m lucky. I strolled with the dog, had lunch by the lake, watched tv and did the laundry. Who knows what may happen next but as anniversaries go this was certainly not the worst.