Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but instead counting our blessings as we sit down to share a meal with my family, J and I are literally living a world of Castles in Spain. It’s an appropriate metaphor. J and I are in the midst of a dreamlike, monthlong exploration of Europe, currently making our way across the northernmost parts of Spain, east to west, getting lost, following our noses. Medieval villages dot the landscape, a tower here, an old walled city there, a monastery on a hill, an arched stone bridge leading into narrow, cobbled streets.
We have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful to have made my way into my 60s, to have the freedom, the means, and the time to travel (plus no covid restrictions and relative security in western Europe). I am thankful to meet so many people in different countries, in multiple languages (including hand gestures) who smile and help out and share a piece of their life with strangers. The world seems scary and despairing too often. When we live in the news and in social media, we miss out on the reassurance of human connection.
Everywhere there are babies getting pushed in carriages, dogs trotting with their humans, cats sunning on doorsteps, children’s voices bubbling over the walls of playgrounds, people stopping for a drink, going to work, laughing, yelling into cell phones, meeting friends, stopping at crosswalks, tending to farm animals, waving hello. We have so much in common, no matter where we live. Traveling encourages the opening of boundaries, both internal and external. We’re getting opened up to the idea of dreaming again, dreaming of castles in Spain.
I wish for all of you, friends, family, and passers-by, the luxury of dreaming, perhaps your own Castles in Spain. I wish you, too, the comforts of human connection – over a table laden with food, over a hot cup of coffee, on the street, on the subway, at the checkout counter. We are not as alone as we think, if we can find our way to open up and reach out.
Robin Clifford Wood is an award-winning author, poet, and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her children, grandchildren, and granddogs.