Baguette with brie in my left hand and hot wine in my right — all we could afford for lunch — as we wandered the Christmas markets of Paris. The hot wine flushed our already frostbitten rosy cheeks, and our feet ached from walking around the cobblestone streets of the entire city. My first time in Paris. I finally understood what all the hype was about. We crammed an ambitious amount of tourism into four days–the Eiffel Tower at night, the Catacombs, Sacre Couer, Roue de Paris, the world’s biggest sex store in Pigalle, Jeu de Paume. Champs-Elysees and Laduree. Exploring and drinking wine in Montmartre with fellow travelers.
It was our last trip before we returned to Seville. When we arrived back in the city, he (my lover? Can I even call him that?) said he had a surprise for me. When he opened the door to his flat, I pushed him up against a wall, pressing my lips to his. I wanted him. Four days had been too long. But he laughed at my foolish attempt, scolding me in a clumsy mix of Spanish and English, and led me to the next room. The Christmas tree we had decorated together was lit, with a single present under it. Wrapped perfectly in adorable Santa Claus wrapping paper and a gold ribbon. I wondered how long it had taken him.
This day, this month, this time last year, I was in love. In love with the best boy I had ever known, in love with cities that were foreign to me just four months prior, in love with a fantasy that would be broken knowing I only had a few days left in the country.
But right now, I am sitting here, attempting to finish up a project presentation. Instead, I am thinking about things I shouldn’t be thinking about because they’re a year old, and I know I need to stop living in the past. Those months in Spain and in Europe seem like a world away. LIke they never happened. Decaying perfectly like aging Rioja. But I can’t help myself. This time last year was the happiest month of my life. How can I stop missing something like that?
Europe had robbed our wallets, but left us richer with the currency of memories of people and new favorite places that we would never forget. There’s a comfort in revisiting the things that once made us happy, even if we are just revisiting them in our minds. They are a testament to the fact that we are human, and just because we don’t feel anything now, so numb with being blindingly busy, we did once before. And we can return to it. They are familiar, filled with intimate emotions and experiences. They serve as a reminder that we were once so incredibly happy, and maybe we can be that happy again in the future–hopefully with someone else, some place else.
This December, I’m not halfway around the world, but in the same place I was two years ago. And it’s the strangest feeling of being stuck and mildly content all at once. I’m not in love the way I was last year. And I have finally realized that it’s okay. I’m looking forward to this year being over, because that means that I will finally stop comparing this year with the last. Distance from my own memories. That’s what I want this holiday season.