Early last year, I wrote a recount and chronicle of my time spent studying in Barcelona. The completed work was released via Amazon. Looking back, the work was written from various vantage points. While it had it’s moments of brilliance, it was mostly a loosely related narrative that was hard to follow. Time has made me a better writer, and I now feel that I am ready to give this work the time and love it deserves, for Barcelona was great to me.
I hope you enjoy the preview below. I don’t know when it will be completed in it’s entirety, but I do know that I want to share it with the world. I should just make like a rapper and slap an unrealistic release date, but one cannot rush this. Thanks Steven Pressfield for the advice! Let me know what you think!
The first person I met was a skinny Italian kid named Andrea. We met while we were both reading the campus postings. He had horrible Spanish but we made the best of it. He spoke a lot with hands, and was very touchy. He would place his hand on my shoulder, hug me and move in real close when he was making a point. I was becoming uncomfortable.
Like most Americans, I value my personal space and I would move back only to have him move forward. As the conversation ended, we exchanged phone numbers. I wasn’t sure how to say good-bye so I stuck my hand up for a high five. He looked very confused and instead of following through, he literally pet my face like I was a Golden Retriever.
Awkward does not begin to describe it. I could have brushed him off and ignored his phone calls because that touchiness would make anyone uncomfortable. But he was Italian. It wasn’t that he was pushy or rude; he simply had a different concept of space than I did.
Italians, especially from the south, speak a lot with their hands. Furthermore their concept of personal space is not as strict as ours. Think about it, Italy for a long time had a struggling economy. It was not rare to find families with 6 or 7 people crammed into two or three rooms. They were so used to being in close quarters and proximity with one another that it carried over.
Furthermore Italian men don’t have the same macho demeanor that a lot of men in the States do. Italian (Some) men kiss each other on the cheek (if they’re close), hold hands with friends and generally show more affection than men in America. Keep in mind I’m talking about straight men too. It was how their culture was and I was glad I understood that. Andrea and I became good friends. But we didn’t hold hands.