Home Thoughts From A Broad: Meeting my Spanish family

Home Thoughts From A Broad: this week, our Virginian visitor Kealani Nanz meets her new Spanish family who will be hosting her in Ruzafa

Home Thoughts From A Broad: this week, our Virginian visitor Kealani Nanz meets her new Spanish family who will be hosting her in Ruzafa….

On Saturday we met our host families at 10am, marking the beginning of our time really living in Valencia. As we waited outside the hotel, my roommate and I were nervous about meeting the mysterious woman with whom we would be living for the next month. As our group of students began to thin out, two older women in chunky sunglasses and spunky outfits turned up to collect us.

Our new “host mom” spoke very little English and my roommate spoke no Spanish. So as we speed-walked to a bus stop with all our luggage, I tried my best to serve as a bridge with my halfway decent speaking abilities. As we got to know her, we learned she is the middle child of seven siblings. She also has a teenage granddaughter and two dogs she never gave a name to that have passed away.

Arriving at her building on the corner of Cuba and Centelle in Ruzafa, opposite a powder-blue apartment on the facing block, we set for the third floor and settled into the little room we would be living in for the next month. In the space were two little twin beds about two feet apart and a wooden armoire for each of us. A humble space, but we made it a home as we filled the drawers with our belongings. The final touch on my roommate’s bed was her pink silk blankie and on mine, a faded blue pillowcase. The rest of the house was connected by a thin L-shaped hallway. 

Along this path was a mid-century modern saloon adorned with antiques from around the world and photos of her family and from her youth. Within this hall were collectible decorative dishes, more photographs and chests holding accessories and more. At the end of the hall was a dining room containing a reclining chair where she would nap at siesta time, a window connected to clothes lines for drying, and a triangle-shaped kitchen with red tiles.

The day progressed while my roommate and I spoke about plans for our first Saturday night in Spain. Though I am a massive introvert who has never been to a bar or nightclub, my roommate is one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met. As she planned the details of the night with the rest of the group, I contemplated whether I would be able to hold a conversation, let alone go dancing with these people I barely knew, for the next few hours. But, despite my inhibitions, I chose to get ready and head out wearing a little gold dress, white sneakers, and most of the gold jewellery I had brought with me.

Learning to love social life

As we walked the lively nighttime streets of Spain, we talked about going out and how to defeat the anxious mindset I suffer. While I had viewed partying as something negative, as I had only ever seen the worst parts, she helped me realise it is a celebration and a way to come together with the people in your life at a particular moment in your life. Humans have been coming together for dance, music, food and drink for thousands of years.

Maybe not with EDM – or techno music – and strobe lights but within a sort of unity and purpose to spend time in other’s company, where we can be bold and confident and embrace each other. Maybe I couldn’t realise this in the uncomfortable basement “frat parties” of my mountainous college town. But at a posh nightclub near the oceanfront, after a glass of vino blanco, I felt deeply how the circle of my roommate and I, our student cohort, and the hundreds of other people from all different places in life pooled into the glowing rooms, vibrating with DJ’d versions of every type of song.

After some hours of dancing with my friends, we finally left the club in search of a way home. Sitting on the kerb as we watched other sleepy party-goers make their way home, we laughed about what would soon become warm memories. I half-jokingly hailed a taxi (which never happens in the States since Uber took over) and was elated it actually worked. Though it is corny, I felt like a New Yorker in a Nineties film. We laughed the whole way home while taking flash photos on my aunt’s old Canon PowerShot. We put our stuff in the room, brushed our teeth and washed our makeup off as silently as humanly possible. I was embracing my new outlook.

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