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| MADRID, TE QUIERO |

It had been 10 months since I had left the city. I wasn’t sad to go at the time either. I was actually rather happy to be done with it.

I never thought I’d be so excited to be back in the city. To see the lights glittering in the night sky as I flew above gave me butterflies I couldn’t control. It was almost like coming home.

I used Couch Surfing to find a place to stay in the city and so I could meet new people this time around. Create new memories with new friends. And that’s exactly what I did.

It was amazing to walk down streets I knew. To be able to speak the language. To feel at home in a city I’d be away from for almost a year. It was all familiar to me, but I was happier, free.

While I was visiting, Bruno, my CS host, and I discussed the meaning of freedom over dinner one evening. I don’t quite remember how it was brought it up, but he simply asked me — do you think you’re free?

No one had ever asked me that before. I immediately said yes and then hesitated and retracted my answer. I wasn’t sure how to answer the question. I had to really think about my life and the meaning of the word free.

On dictionary.com the word free is defined as the following:
Origin free [free] adjective, fre·er, fre·est, adverb, verb, freed, free·ing.
1.enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery: a land of free people.
2.pertaining to or reserved for those who enjoy personal liberty: They were thankful to be living on free soil.
3.existing under, characterized by, or possessing civil and political liberties that are, as a rule, constitutionally guaranteed by representative government: the free nations of the world.
4.enjoying political autonomy, as a people or country not under foreign rule; independent.
5.exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one’s will, thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted.

After running quickly through the definitions of freedom I knew in my head I decided that yes, I am lucky enough to be completely free.

I’m free in the sense that my parents will provide me with anything I need if I need it. I’m free because I was born in a country with the right to be free written in the constitution. I’m free because I have no ties to anyone or any place in particular — I can simply pack my bags and go wherever I please. I’m free because I speak English and Spanish and can communicate with many people around the world. I’m free because I’m educated.

Of course there are certain things that tie me to the US, like taxes and visas regulating my stay in other countries — but those are only minor things. I can look past those and know that my life is free — I’m unencumbered and ready to take on the world.

I finished the dinner with a smile on my face, loving the conversation that had just taken place. To realize I am a free person, really free.

The rest of the weekend I viewed the city in an even newer light. I realized how lucky I truly am to be free and to be able to have all these opportunities presented to myself on a daily basis. I’m 24 years old. I have a degree in Spanish / Latin American Studies & Journalism. I have parents and friends who would do anything for me. I’m traveling the world and following my passion of photography to make a living.

Even though I left Madrid on a sour note last year, I can officially say my opinion has changed of the city. My new experiences there have helped me open my eyes to how lucky I truly am (even though I knew it before, being able to reflect on such things has made me appreciate it even more).

So, until next time Madrid, te quiero y cuidate.

*What do you think — are you free?

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This entry was posted in: Travel

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I'm a native of Maine, currently living and working in Portland where I write about my favorite travels and new experiences. I have been published on various travel blogs as well as have collaborated on writing projects with companies such as the travel search engine Hipmunk and Spanish hotel chain Bahia Principe. When I'm not writing, I enjoy being on the ocean, sipping tasty wines, waking up to strong coffee, and sharing all these things with my friends. You can follow my writing at www.nativeofthenorth.me

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